The Cleveland Museum of Art
Special Exhibitions
Battle of the Nudes

Conservation Feature
Discover the Battle of the Nudes

33. Magnified detail of "Colnaghi's" stamp for the Prince of Liechtenstein from Pollaiuolo, Battle of the Nudes, first-state impression (verso).
Full photo credit 33


A reconstruction of this impression's provenance relies principally on personal correspondences, some based on recent inquiries and many archived in the CMA curatorial files. Needless to say there are several discrepancies on this subject, as sales and inventory records inevitably become increasingly inaccessible with the passage of time and as individual perspectives, memories and thus accounts will vary.

It is well established that the print came from the Prince of Liechtenstein collection. Not much is known about the formation or eventual dispersal of this print collection and possibly nothing directly from the Liechtenstein archives. But according to correspondences in the CMA files, the bulk of the collection was amassed in the 18th and early 19th centuries and came principally from the Feldberg and Hauslab collections. The venerable art firm, P&D Colnaghi of London apparently purchased the greater part of the Liechtenstein's vast print collection in the late 1940s (possibly in four lots between 1948 and 1952); with the Pollaiuolo purchase occuring in 1948. An independent dealer Richard Zinser played a prominent intermediary role in both the purchase and dispersal of the Liechtenstein print collection and from the outset held many of these prints in half-share with Colnaghi's. He purportedly purchased the Pollaiuolo engraving from Colnaghi's in 1954. Cleveland purchased the print from Zinser in 1967; its location between 1954 and 1967 remains uncertain.

The prints verso bears the so-called Liechtenstein stamp: a black ink stamp comprising a crowned shield flanked by the letters “F” and “L.” By all accounts however, the Liechtensteins did not mark their prints. Over the years at the Cleveland Museum of Art this stamp has also been referred to as "Colnaghi's stamp for Liechtenstein." By contacting Katharina Mayer Haunton an authority on the history of the print department at P & D Colnaghi the author was able to learn much about the origin of this stamp. According to Mrs. Haunton, the stamp was made specifically to be put on the Liechtenstein prints held in half share with Richard Zinser and which he in turn sold. This explanation is consistent with the theory that the stamp was only used on those prints sold in the United States, as at the time that was were Zinser was conducting most of his business.

The "Liechtenstein stamp" happens to lie on top of a restoration, which at a glance might suggest an important clue. However all that we know for certain is that the print was restored before 1967 when Cleveland purchased it from Zinser. (The print has not been treated since it was purchased by the museum.) A more useful piece of evidence is that the technology behind one of the restorations uses a photomechanical print process that was not commercially available until 1868. (This process will be discussed in greater detail under Large Corner Fill.) Therefore the print had to have been restored after 1868.

The restoration of this print must fall between 1868 and 1967. Despite this wide span of time we can hypothesize about possible restorers of this print. The highly sophisticated and singular repair techniques uncovered by this investigation, combined with the general location of the print for a good portion of its modern life, indicate that the print could have been restored by one of the legendary Schweidler brothers, Max or Carl.

According to verbal history, the brothers were born in the early 1800's, both were active in Berlin (although working independently) around the first quarter to middle of the twentieth century, and both were highly skilled craftsmen who received their early training in printmaking. As restorers of works on paper they are known for performing extremely refined treatment practices especially with respect to the methods for repairing structurally damaged paper; this is highly pertinent to the restorations on this print.

Image of 34. Photograph of paper restorer Max Schweidler looking at paper taken from his book <I>Die Instandsetzung Von Kupferstichen, Zeichnungen, Buchern usw, The Restoration of Prints, Drawings, Books etc.,  </I>p. 31.
34. Photograph of paper restorer Max Schweidler looking at paper taken from his book Die Instandsetzung Von Kupferstichen, Zeichnungen, Buchern usw, The Restoration of Prints, Drawings, Books etc., p. 31.
Perhaps the most compelling information we have to support the theory that the print was restored by one of the Schweidler brothers comes from Christa Gaedhe (1922 - 2002), conservator of fine art on paper who received her training in Dresden, Germany, in the 1940s and was acquainted with Max Schweidler. Gaedhe immigrated to the United States in 1949 where she was a pioneer in the field of paper conservation.

Early in this research Gaedhe was asked about the Cleveland print and its remarkable restorations. Gaedhe thought it very likely that one of the Schweidler brothers restored this print. She also revealed that the Schweidlers did work for Zinser (when Zinser was in Germany) and that they probably did work on prints from the Liechtenstein collection. This information was kindly provided by Irene Brückle, conservator of paper who consulted on this project, and who spoke to Gaedhe, her close friend and mentor, about the restorations in the Cleveland Museum of Art print.

Later in his career, Max Schweidler wrote the now famed restoration manual, Die Instandsetzung Von Kupferstichen, Zeichnungen, Buchern usw, The Restoration of Prints, Drawings, Books etc. In this manual the specific restoration techniques we see on our print are described and illustrated. Schweidler's manual was first published in 1938, although a later 1949 edition is now more widely circulated and referred to. As the author of the manual, Max became more famous than his brother Carl, though apparently Carl was the more genial restorer responsible for some of the most refined conservation treatments carried out on the most famous artworks.

The brothers' celebrated status has been shaped largely by anecdotal lore that has been passed down over the years concerning their exceptional craftsmanship, artistry and high standards for their vocation, not to mention their ability to perform "invisible restorations." Invisible restorations were intended to conceal damages that would otherwise interrupt the appreciation of artworks. These repairs are not actually invisible but they can be extremely difficult to detect; their ability to conceal damages and beguile viewers is impressive and in some respects unsettling. The extent to which these repairs have eventually facilitated misrepresentations in the art market is a subject of considerable speculation.

More About the Schweidler Restorers

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