Issues of authenticity when conserving historic imitative crafts

Hadas Rix, Stephen Emmitt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (SciVal)


The historical imitative crafts discussed in this study, such as scagliola, Coade stone, marbling and graining, were unique and original; their use was promoted and articulated between the end of the sixteenth and the nineteenth century. The conservation of imitative crafts may be compromised without a nuanced and specific approach. Conserving inventions of the past presents unique challenges since the mechanism of deterioration of artificial and natural materials intrinsically differ; the decay of natural stone or marble is different from that of scagliola. Current decision-making often aimed at increasing authenticity through retaining the ageing quality of the original fabric, may paradoxically devaluate the heritage significance if the original imitative intentions are not followed. This work aims to set a theoretical foundation upon which a code of practice could be developed to prevent further cultural heritage loss. The fundamental difference between artificial materials and imitative surfaces should inform guidelines for conservation policy. The skills of imitative crafts should be protected to retain their cultural significance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-19
JournalJournal of Architectural Conservation
Issue number1
Early online date5 May 2022
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2023


  • artificial materials
  • authenticity
  • Conservation and restoration theory
  • imitative crafts
  • imitative surfaces
  • techniques

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Conservation
  • Building and Construction


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