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Restoration retrospective: the Tyrolean Chimney

Estate History 04/15/15

Written By Judy Ross

As part of our look back at the extensive renovation project that returned the Louis XV Suite to its current splendor six years ago this month, let’s take a moment to consider the namesake of the Tyrolean Chimney Room: the wonderful tile chimney and mantel.

The fireplace over-mantel (its correct name) was constructed from a tile-stove known as a kachelöfen that George Vanderbilt likely purchased in his European travels, possibly in Switzerland. Created in the 18th century, Biltmore’s Tyrolean Chimney is made of tin-glazed earthenware tiles hand-painted with exquisite floral designs.

Prior to restoration in 2009, the over-mantel was the focal point of a room used to store beds and frames.

The Museum Services staff worked with Prelle, a company in Lyon, France that specializes in silk fabrics, to exactly reproduce a figured velvet for the window draperies. Here, Museum Services and a Prelle representative are comparing the velvet to the colors in the tiles.

While the tile was in relatively good condition for its age, Biltmore’s conservators spent hundreds of hours cleaning and in-painting damaged areas of the over-mantel.

The painstaking work required a combination of conservation experience and artistic ability.

 

The results show the vivid colors and delicate florals that inspired the room’s striking design.

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