About Vera Tolstoj (MSc/MA/BA)
Vera Tolstoj is a freelance conservator of historic interiors. She specialises in the conservation of decorative surfaces (e.g. painted furniture, gilding, wall paintings on various supports); in architectural paint analysis; and in preventive conservation. In addition to this, she uses her knowledge of historic interiors and decorative styles/techniques to design interiors for clients, inspired by the historic context of the location.
• Hands-on treatment skills;
• Architectural paint research and microscopic analysis;
• Sufficient knowledge of chemistry to create modified cleaning methods;
• Historic decoration techniques such as gilding, marbling and graining;
• Thorough knowledge of historic decorative and coloured finishes;
• Thorough knowledge of historic architectural styles (interior and exterior);
• Trained to have a critical/ethical approach to conservation and restoration of artefacts.
After finishing a Bachelor’s degree in Mediterranean Archaeology at the University of Amsterdam (UvA) in 2014, Vera studied Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Heritage at the same university. She completed this five-year Master programme in October 2018, specialising in the restoration and conservation of historic interiors. This specialisation covers a wide range of objects and materials that are fixed in an interior.
In the last two years of her Master, she was full-time employed by the UvA as a Conservator In Training, performing conservation treatments in the Netherlands and in the UK.
Vera spent 10 months with the National Trust, working as a conservation intern in a conservation studio in Kent. Work focused on remedial conservation and documentation of decorative surfaces, furniture and objects with a great socio-historical value. Within the conservation studio a great focus lay on social outreach and public engagement.
Besides hands on conservation, Vera has orientated herself in the management of a historic house, doing several preventive conservation projects in both The Netherlands as the UK. Also, she worked alongside professionals doing day to day collections care in several National Trust properties and has completed the National Trust Housekeeping Study Days, to familiarise herself with the conservation policies of this organisation.
MSc - CONSERVATION AND RESTORATION OF HISTORIC INTERIORS
Post-Master (2016-2018) - University of Amsterdam
MA - CONSERVATION AND RESTORATION OF HISTORIC INTERIORS
Master (2014-2016) - University of Amsterdam
Minor - CONSERVATION AND RESTORATION OF CULTURAL HERITAGE
Pre-Master (2012-2013) - University of Amsterdam
BA -MEDITERRANEAN ARCHAEOLOGY AND PREHISTORY
Bachelor (2009-2014) - University of Amsterdam
In the specialisation of historic interiors it is crucial to have an extensive understanding of the development of architectural styles, historic decorative finishes, and ethics in restoration and conservation. Vera approaches an interior in a critical way as a total design, a Gesammtkunstwerk, even when treating just one element in a room. She has treated materials on different supports and periods, such as (painted) wallpaper, mural and ceiling paintings, gilded leather, wooden objects, oil paintings on wood or canvas and plaster ornaments. Furthermore, Vera is familiar with working on large objects in a non-studio environment, for instance in historic buildings and on scaffoldings (she is certified to build and work on scaffold towers (PASMA Towers for Users Certficate)).
With research being a major element in her work - Vera is very familiar with carrying out architectural paint analysis. This type of research is done to understand the sequence of decorative schemes and/or to determine the original appearance of an interior. With a special blade, very thin layers are removed on different architectural elements in a room, to expose the underlying paint layers. Consequently, a chronological stratigraphy is created that shows how an interior has changed through the ages. These results can be backed up by laboratory analysis. A paint sample is taken from the interior and analysed under a microscope to determine principle components such as basic pigments or varnishes.