George, in Focus: Hidden Text Revealed

In this week’s blog, Special Collections Conservator, Emily, discusses how she is using different imaging techniques to reveal concealed script.

I was recently challenged with a seemingly impossible task in the conservation studio; to reveal hidden texts in a book without using any invasive conservation treatment. The item in question is Recueil de Desseins Ridicules (1695), a bound volume with 111 illustrations by French artist George Focus. The illustrations have been pasted down overall on to the pages of the volume, however, there is writing on the verso of the drawings which is now, of course, obscured. Little is known about the artist, and this text is thought to be unique, so being able to read it could reveal a great deal about this enigmatic figure.

Illustration from Recueil de Desseins Ridicules (1695) by George Focus

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