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Battle of the Nudes

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More About the Schweidler Restorers

It is generally accepted that while Carl and Max Schweidler practiced the same restoration procedures and were at one time allied in this profession they had a serious falling out and ended up enemies working separately in Berlin. It is also generally accepted that Carl was the more gifted restorer and was far more accomplished in this profession than Max. Additional anecdotal lore about the Schweidler family is that at least one of the brothers had a son who was also a gifted restorer. Christa Gaedhe, when specifically asked about the restorations on Cleveland's Pollaioulo print, divulged that the Schweilder family continued to practice paper restoration “in secrecy” in Switzerland.

In January of 2003 the author contacted Dr. Eberhard Kornfeld, proprietor of the Kornfeld Auction House in Bern Switzerland and specifically inquired as to whether or not subsequent generations of Schweidlers still practiced paper restoration in Switzerland. Dr. Kornfeld responded promptly to this query with the following information:

“Carl had a son, Kurt, also a professionally educated paper restorer. He was even better than his father. He was active in Berlin from about 1940. In one of his Berlin crisis I arranged his transfer to Switzerland. He arrived around 1960 and lived first in Toffen near Bern and then in Gockenhausen near Zurich. He died around 1980.”

“There was a third generation: Gerd, the son of Kurt, also a very skilled paper restorer. He was active also in Gockenhausen. Gerd Schweidler was born during World War II, around 1943. He was an apprentice with his father from around 1964, he later worked as his assistant and continued to work independently after his father's death.” (Gerd died in 1992).

(In his letter Dr. Kornfeld also confirmed that Carl was the more gifted and important restorer and that Carl and Max ended up enemies.)

With this much of the picture complete it is reasonable to hypothesize several scenarios. If the CMA's Pollaiuolo engraving was restored by a member of the Schweidler clan and if it was restored while still in the Liechtenstein collection, then Carl or Max Schweidler could have restored it, although, based on reputation, Carl's involvement is much more likely. If Zinser was the agent behind the restorations, meaning the work was done after 1954, when, as best can be determined, Zinser purchased the print outright from Colnaghi's, and before 1967, when he sold it to the CMA, then Kurt is the best candidate for restorer. (At that time, Carl would have been roughly 70 to 80 years old.) In this case the restoration could have been done after 1954 and before 1960 in Berlin or from 1960 to 1967 in Switzerland. It is also possibly that the restorations were done by Carl's grandson, Gerd, although as a recent apprentice and assistant to his father it is unlikely that Gerd would have been entrusted with such an extensive restoration project on such an important print at that early point in his career.

One final time span to be accounted for is the six years (1948 1954) that the engraving was in Colnaghi's possession. Could the print have been restored under Colnaghi's supervision? The author presented this question to Katharina Mayer Haunton, an authority on the history of the print department at Colnaghi's and a former director of this firm. Mrs. Haunton affirmed that if the print had arrived at Colnaghis in poor condition it would have been restored and the restorer they would have used was a London-based restorer A. Drescher. According to Mrs. Haunton, Mr. Drescher worked in the same tradition as the Schweidlers and was also quite capable of executing elaborate, nearly invisible restorations. (Further inquiries have revealed that A. Drescher was of German extraction and was trained by Carl Schweidler). Mrs. Haunton also thought it possible that Zinser had the print restored; that he would have been more likely to use Schweidler and that he often traveled to Europe and could have taken the print there himself. (Recall that Colnaghi's held the print in half share with Zinser).

At this time further inquiries are being made into the possible connection between A. Drescher and his son Paul (also a paper restorer) and the restoration of Cleveland's impression of Battle of the Nudes.