Collection / Conservation / Parmigianino: Saturn



In the exhibition "Parmigianino and His Circle” selected works from the Department of Prints and Drawings in the Städel Museum are to be shown alongside those from the Baselitz collection. For comparison with Saturn or the Allegory of Time by Ugo da Carpi (after Parmigianino), chiaroscuro woodcut from four blocks (brownish grey) 322 x 434 mm, second state, the curator chooses the example in the Städel collection in the first state, chiaroscuro woodcut from four blocks (mauve). The public is thus granted the unique opportunity of comparing the two printing states with one another in the original.

The woodcut is in a generally good state of preservation. A small hole in the middle of the print, damage on the lower right-hand edge, and a tiny loss in the lower right corner are to be repaired, then the print can be presented in the exhibition.

Raking-light reveals the slightly rough surface of a greyish-beige sheet of sixteenth-century paper, rippled along the lower edge for reasons related to the method of production. In the centre of the sheet, the paper tissue exhibits vertical traces of the line on which the handmade paper was hung to dry following the pressing process. A few minor creases and wrinkles indicate improper mechanical stress at an earlier date.







On the back, the counter-proof of a print from a black wood engraving block is clearly visible. This indicates that the printed sheets were laid one on top of the other without intermediate layers while drying. At the bottom left corner, the collection stamp of the Städelsches Kunstinstitut and the hand-written inventory number are visible. All around the edges, narrow strips of Japanese paper have been added to facilitate the mounting of the print in a thin cardboard mask.











The lower right-hand corner of the print is missing. It is to be restored with paper pulp. The rich, coarse-grained ink of the woodcut’s colour block is clearly discernible.









The hole, measuring approximately 3 mm in diameter, is likewise to be filled in with paper pulp. In the enlarged detail, the four successively printed colours indicate the sequence of the four woodblocks.











On the back, the hole is to be found in the words written by the famous collector in pen and brown ink: "Mariette 1720”.











Fibre material of a shade corresponding to the original is chosen and put in water.











The paper pulp then is poured onto a piece of polyester tissue.














After drying, the piece of newly produced paper is matched to the hole shape and size.











If adhesive is to be used it is always starch paste which is reversible. Here rice starch powder is about to be boiled in water to produce the glue.











The glue is applied to the edges of the missing areas with a fine brush; here the repair paper is pasted on.













The hole is filled in.





















The missing corner is added on.





















Wether or not to retouch the inserted pieces of paper is to be decided.

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