Pictured here is a cross-section of paint layers from a bedchamber at Wilton. Though the sample is smaller than the top of a pencil eraser, 2-3 millimeters across, it is a layered document of three centuries of change. Examining and interpreting a cross-section informs the understanding of an historic site and the people who populated it, influencing current research and guiding restoration efforts.
Reading this cross-section from the bottom, the original light gray color forms the foundation color. This stone-colored gray was applied to all of the rooms at Wilton when the house was completed in the 1750s. This layer is referred to as the first generation colorway. Above this, the second-generation is a yellow-green color. Examination of the individual pigments in this layer, seen here as larger spots within the paint, reveals a higher proportion of yellow ochre to verdigris, which have darkened and degraded over time. The third generation represents a fashionable light blue color, common to the neoclassical era, applied at Wilton in the 1780s. In total, thirteen generations of paint can be documented on the paneling, including its current light blue-green chosen for the room’s most recent restoration.