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Portrait of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor

Ernest Stanmore Gibbs, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor by Stanmore Gibbs,19th C, oil on canvas, gilded frame, 711 x 605 mm, in the collection of the Museum of Croydon

Decant, Condition Check, and Storage

Location: London, UK

About Samuel Coleridge-Taylor

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, b. 1875, was an English composer and conductor. He was the first black student to be accepted into the Royal College of Music, as a violin student at 15 years of age, and was also the first black person to be the recipient of a Blue Plaque, which you can still see on his house in Dagnal Park, South Norwood.

Project Scope

Samuel's portrait has been on constant display at the Museum of Croydon since 2008. As the museum is no longer in full operation and visitors are no longer permitted to enter the museum galleries, it was necessary to decant the painting and move it to the stores to rest. A member of the Museum of Croydon collections care team and I carried out this decant. The painting received a full condition audit, and is now resting stably and securely in the stores.


The Condition Report

Materials: Oil on Canvas, Wood, Textile

Number of parts: 3

Does the object have a base/ mount/ frame? Yes: Textile-covered mount, gilded frame


Packaging requirements: To be hung on a rack. No flat boxing is required.

Handling requirements: Nitrate gloves. x2 handlers. At least two hands in contact with the frame at all times. Moved on a padded trolley. Travel flat.

Display requirements: Should be in a case or distanced from viewers, and hung with two screws on either side using mirror plates attached to the verso of the frame.

Structural condition

Stability                 Good

Additions               Yes

Chips                    No

Cracks                   Yes

Delaminations          None

Holes                     None

Losses                     None

Repairs                   None

Other                     None

Surface condition

Abrasion               Yes

Accretions              None

Corrosion               None

Cracks                   None

Losses & Flaking       Yes

Discolouration          Yes

Paint Spots              None

Scratches                None

Other                     Yes

Structural Condition


1 Additions: Yes

1a: Two white-painted wooden blocks on the verso are connected to the frame with screws. One mirror plate is attached to each block with two screws each.

1b: Framers tape on verso. Appears new, so likely added around 2008 when the painting was displayed at the Museum of Croydon, however, previous condition reports do not specify this.

2 Cracks: Yes

2a: Top left, horizontal edge

2b: 2 inches down from the top right corner, on the vertical edge.

2c: 1 inch from the bottom right corner, on the horizontal edge.

Surface Condition


3 Abrasion: Yes

3a: Mount: Small area of abrasion just left of the centre bottom, on the white

4 Losses & flaking: Yes

4a: Frame: Chip on the bottom right corner

4b: Frame: Chip on the top right corner

4c: Gild: Top left

4d: Gild: Top right 

4e: Gild: Center bottom

4f: Name plaque

4g: Mount: x3 small chips just right of the center bottom, on the white and gold

4h: Painting: Chipping on the perimeter, just right of the center, long the base

4i: Painting: Bottom right corner

4j: Painting: Top right corner

4k: Painting: Top left corner

4l: Painting: Left side of Samuel's shoulder, near the perimeter

4m: Mount: Small area of abrasion just left of the centre bottom, on the white

4n: Mount: Chip on the gold lining, 2 inches down from the top left corner


Discolouration: Yes

Surface soiling (dust) present throughout the frame (e.g. gild), mount, and painting.

Verso appears to be n good condition with minimal surface soiling.

Varnish has yellowed.

Other (surface): Yes

We believe that the dark spot on the verso, on the top right corner, is staining from blue-tak that we found whilst de-installing on the wall behind the painting.

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor. Image from Londonist.jpg

To Conclude...

Thankfully, the painting has remained in good condition, despite its extended time on display. Although not the most 'true' representation of the trailblazing composer, the portrait, after being given some focused care and conservation attention, will remain stable and will be preserved so future generations can continue to be inspired by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor.

Read on...


The Cleaning of Sanuel Coleridge-Taylor; Preventive Cleaning | What, How and Why/

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