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Battle of the Nudes

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Discover the Battle of the Nudes

Image of 35. Antonio del Pollaiuolo, <I>Battle of the Nudes,  </I>overall view
35. Antonio del Pollaiuolo, Battle of the Nudes, overall view.

Tear Repair

Finding the old restorations on Cleveland's impression of Battle of the Nudes required careful and repeated examination using magnification and various types of light. Transmitted light, raking light and magnification were essential tools throughout this endeavor. Understanding how the restorations were done required further scrutiny as well as knowledge of specific historic restoration techniques.

Raking light is light coming from one side and glancing across the surface of the sheet at a low angle. Raking light reveals subtle surface variations in texture, gloss, and planarity and is a valuable tool for deciphering an artist's techniques and materials as well as condition and old repairs.

Transmitted light is light passing through the sheet from behind. Transmitted light reveals information about paper structure (including watermarks), formation and sheet density; this light can also reveal irregularities in sheet formation that may point to condition problems and restorations.

Prints and all works of art on paper commonly suffer structural damages such as tears and creases. Folding sheets to store them in books or albums creates creases along which the paper fibers become permanently deformed and weakened. Over time creases often break through to form tears. Tears also occur more quickly from rough handling - this includes poor storage conditions. In normal viewing light the CMA print looks perfectly intact. In fact, the print has several repaired tears that represent major structural damages; three tears are vertically oriented and run the height of the sheet; a fourth horizontal tear, approximately 3" long, transects the left side of the sheet.

Image of 36. Antonio del Pollaiuolo, <I>Battle of the Nudes,  </I>overall with tears enhanced.
36. Antonio del Pollaiuolo, Battle of the Nudes, overall with tears enhanced.


All of the tears have been repaired in a manner that makes them virtually invisible to the unaided eye. Finding the tears and figuring out how they were repaired required many steps.

This snapshot was taken in the paper conservation lab with a soft diffuse natural light from a window glancing across the back of the sheet. This light combined with a low angle vantagepoint nicely indicates the subtle variations in surface gloss and texture, the first clues that something "happened" to the back of the print.


Image of   37. Pollaiuolo, <I>Battle of the Nudes</I>, CMA first-state impression, snapshot of verso taken with diffuse window light to partially reveal the tear repairs.<br>
<br>Photo credit: Moyna Stanton, Cleveland Museum of Art
37. Pollaiuolo, Battle of the Nudes, CMA first-state impression, snapshot of verso taken with diffuse window light to partially reveal the tear repairs.
Image of 38. Pollaiuolo, <I>Battle of the Nudes</I>, CMA first-state impression, verso with partially visible tear repair areas enhanced.<br>
<br>Photo credit: Moyna Stanton, Cleveland Museum of Art
38. Pollaiuolo, Battle of the Nudes, CMA first-state impression, verso with partially visible tear repair areas enhanced.
Below are two examples of typical (and older) tear repairs taken from works of art on paper in the collection of the Cleveland Museum of Art. These rather obvious and crudely executed examples were chosen for comparative purposes. Such tear repairs can be more or less visible but are rarely baffling. In both examples the tear lines are embedded with dirt and consequently are easily visible as gray lines.

In the first example, a drawing by Flemish artist Lievin Cruyl (ca. 1640-1720), an excessively large paper patch repair was adhered to the back of the tear. In the second example, an engraving attributed to the fifteenth-century Italian artist Andrea Mantegna (1431-1506), the join was executed with only minimal reinforcement applied to the verso.


Image 39. Detail of<I>Eighteen Views of Rome, Piazza Colonna,</I> showing tear repair from front<br>
<br>Lieven Cruyl (ca. 1640-1720)
<br><I>Eighteen Views of Rome, Piazza Colonna</I>
<br>1943.258
39. Detail of drawing, Eighteen Views of Rome, Piazza Colonna, showing
Full photo credit 39
Image 40. Detail of drawing, <I>Eighteen Views of Rome, Piazza Colonna,</I> showing tear repair from back.<br>
<br>Lieven Cruyl (ca. 1640-1720)
<br><I>Eighteen Views of Rome, Piazza Colonna</I>
<br>1943.258
40. Detail of Eighteen Views of Rome, Piazza Colonna, showing tear repair from back.
Full photo credit 40
Image of 41. Detail of <I>The Risen Christ Between St. Andrew and Longinus </I>showing tear repair from front.<br>
<br>Andrea Mangegna (1431-1506)
<br><I>The Risen Christ Between St. Andrew and St. Longinus</I>
<br>Engraving
<br>Cleveland Museum of Art 1986.103
41. Detail of engraving,The Risen Christ Between St. Andrew and Longinus showing tear repair from front.
Full photo credit 41
Image of 42. Detail of <I>The Risen Christ Between St. Andrew and Longinus </I>showing tear repair from back.<br>
<br>Andrea Mangegna (1431-1506)
<br><I>The Risen Christ Between St. Andrew and St. Longinus</I>
<br>Engraving
<br>Cleveland Museum of Art 1986.103
42. Detail of engraving,The Risen Christ Between St. Andrew and Longinus showing tear repair from back.
Full photo credit 42
These examples of tear repairs bear little to no resemblance to the tear reapirs in the Cleveland impression of Battle of the Nudes. It was only after repeated examinations of the print and studying Schweidler's paper restoration manual that the latter repairs were fully understood.

In his restoration manual Schweidler provides exacting instructions for carrying out the various restoration procedures. He is adamant in the need for absolute cleanliness during treatment and keeping the work area and tools meticulous clean and tidy. Schweidler's explanation of tear repair is particularly lengthy and is presented here in an edited and abbreviated version with selected comments included verbatim.

Schweidler's instructions, paraphrased, are as follows:

--Carefully choose a repair paper that "matches the original paper exactly": the papers must have the same texture, thickness, translucency, color and laid line frequency.

--It is also crucial to make sure that the repair paper and original will expand and contract equally when wetted and dried.

--With the print face-down, begin scraping four to ten millimeters from the edge of the tear on either side. (In the case of Cleveland's engraving, which has very long tears, the scraped areas on either side of the tear have a combined width of 9 - 15mm).

--Begin by scraping lightly and gradually increase pressure so that the largest amount of paper is removed closest to the tear edge: the resulting surfaces along either side of the tear should be even and very slightly wedge-shaped. (Often this process is called chamfering and the resulting beveled-edge is called a chamfered edge.)

--Next take the repair paper and lay it on the tear so that the laid lines in both papers correspond in transmitted light.

--With the back of the knife, carefully score the shape of the entire scraped area into the repair paper.

--Detach the repair paper along the scored edge. The repair paper has two sides, one side will face out to blend with the back of the sheet and the other side will be implanted into the scraped tear.

--The side to be implanted is now scraped in a manner opposite to that used to prepare the tear area: the middle of the repair paper is only lightly scraped with increasing pressure and removal of material towards the outer edges. All of the scraping has to be done with the papers perfectly dry. (This chamfering or paper thinning technique is very time consuming and extremely difficult to execute without mistakes; it was used repeatedly on this print to achieve nearly invisible repairs.)

--Next place the chamfered insert paper over the tear in its precise orientation to perfectly cover the scraped tear area and with laid lines matching.

--With a soft pencil make registration marks on the back of the print and repair paper so that later when both papers are thoroughly damp the insert patch can be exactly positioned.

--For the joining of the two papers both the original print and repair paper are made thoroughly damp by first soaking then blotting off excess water.

--A thin layer of paste is applied to the scraped tear and to the insert patch. (Very precise and tedious instruction is provided with regard to pasting out the papers and perfectly aligning the repair; Schweidler warns that if too much paste is used "you will produce a mess that should not happen").

--Once the repair paper is correctly aligned, apply gentle pressure to the mend with blotting paper to ensure a good bond; then let the sheet rest.

--When the sheet begins to dry, remoisten by misting from the reverse but avoiding the tear areas as they already hold more moisture. Repeat this until the sheet is uniformly damp and free from localized distortions, then place in a press to dry.

--Once the sheet is dry "one examines the tear and ascertains that: no small wrinkles have developed on the repair area; the edges are well adhered, no area is lifting, the area around the repair is not glossy; no grey line from an unevenly cleaned edge demarcates the tear."

--The marks made with a pencil are now removed with a soft erasure.

--Turn the sheet over and examine the repaired tear from the front to see if the printed lines join well. "Retouching is not necessary as no damage was done to the print during scraping. One worked exactly according to my instructions." (If any one or more of these criteria has not been met, Schweidler admonishes "that one has worked sloppily" and proceeds with a long explanation of how to correct a number of imperfections that can occur with tear repair.)

Look at the images below. Viewed in normal light from the back, the print looks unmarred and perfectly whole. With the repair areas enhanced, however it is apparent that these restorations extend well beyond the actual tear lines and do so in a manner consistent with Schweidler's instructions.


Image of 43. Pollaiuolo, <I>Battle of the Nudes</I>, CMA first-state impression, verso, overall view.
43. Pollaiuolo, Battle of the Nudes, CMA first-state impression, verso, overall view.
Image of 44. Pollaiuolo, <I>Battle of the Nudes</I>, CMA first-state impression, verso, overall view with tear repairs enhanced.
44. Pollaiuolo, Battle of the Nudes, CMA first-state impression, verso, overall view with tear repairs enhanced.
In transmitted light the sheet's entire lookthough or internal structure is revealed - and so is the restorer's skill and success at matching laid lines and paper thickness.

Image of 45. Pollaiuolo, <I>Battle of the Nudes</I>, CMA first-state impression, recto, overall view with transmitted light.
45. Pollaiuolo, Battle of the Nudes, CMA first-state impression, recto, overall view with transmitted light.
Image of 46. Pollaiuolo, <I>Battle of the Nudes</I>, CMA first-state impression, recto, overall view with transmitted light, with tear lines enhanced.
46. Pollaiuolo, Battle of the Nudes, CMA first-state impression, recto, overall view with transmitted light, with tear lines enhanced.

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