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The Restoration of Paintings at the Beginning of the Nineteenth Century in the Imperial Gallery

Alice Hoppe-Harnoncourt

Abstracts

The paintings in the Imperial collection in Vienna underwent several phases of restoration treatments. In most cases they can be linked to events in the history of the picture gallery. In the years around 1800 the treatments seemed to be caused mainly by aesthetical aspects: many changes to the format of the paintings can be traced to that time. However, the treatments after the era of the Napoleonic wars were different: Most of the gallery’s panel paintings were cradled at that time. Since this method was applied systematically, it was probably considered as solution for a long lasting conservation.

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  • 1  Labels can help to date changes in the support. But we always have to be aware that the labels cou (...)
  • 2  “Evidenz- und Restaurierbücher” do exist from the 1870s on, but they basically only document how l (...)

1Most of the paintings that are kept today in the collections of the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna were part of the Imperial Gallery and have a shared history reaching back several centuries. Many observations about such things as the construction of the cradles, canvases that were used for relining, or labels and numbers on the reverse sides have been collected during the past years; and they have given us an impression of the history and the past treatments carried out on the paintings1. By combining this information with the general history of the collection, one can learn about several time periods in which interventions took place.The written sources in the gallery archives, above all the correspondence between the gallery directors and the so-called “Oberstkämmereramt” – the office in charge of the emperor’s private property – support the observations obtained from the paintings themselves and clarify the responsibilities and duties of the staff. Usually the treatments carried out on paintings were mentioned only due to the extra costs incurred for materials or to pay external restorers. Only in a few cases do we know which painting was involved: the documentation of conservation treatments was not usual until the second half of the nineteenth century2.

The years around 1800

  • 3 Storffer, F., Neu eingerichtes Inventarium der Kayl. Bilder Gallerie in der Stallburg welches nach (...)
  • 4 Mechel, C., Verzeichniss der Gemälde der Kaiserlich Königlichen Bilder Gallerie in Wien, verfasst v (...)

2The painting collection of today’s Kunsthistorisches Museum only moved into the present building at the Viennese “Ringstraße” in 1892. Until the end of the eighteenth century, most of the paintings were housed above the imperial stables, the so-called “Stallburg”, next to the Hofburg Palace in the centre of Vienna. The arrangement in the Stallburg Gallery is very well documented, among other things through the painted inventory by Ferdinand à Storffer3: one sees a Baroque interior design with ornamented planking and paintings that were integrated symmetrically into the wall decoration. When Joseph Rosa Sr was assigned as the new director of the Imperial Picture Gallery in 1772, this Baroque ensemble was not only old fashioned, but it also did not allow for any changes. During the Age of Enlightenment, a more systematic and less decorative presentation of paintings was in demand. In 1776, Rosa Sr. moved the paintings to a new location that fulfilled the requirements perfectly: the Upper Belvedere Palace in the suburbs of Vienna. The first catalogue from that location documents the new arrangement of the paintings according to chronological and regional guidelines in order to present “a visual history of art”, as the author states in the introduction4.

Fig. 1 Folio 31 from the second volume of Storffer’s inventory showing the Baroque arrangement of the paintings

Fig. 1 Folio 31 from the second volume of Storffer’s inventory showing the Baroque arrangement of the paintings

© Kunsthistorisches Museum

Fig. 2 View of the Upper Belvedere Palace after a drawing by G. Nigeli from 1781

Fig. 2 View of the Upper Belvedere Palace after a drawing by G. Nigeli from 1781

Published in Christian von Mechel’s catalogue of 1783

Photograph of the French edition of Mechel’s catalogue taken by Alice Hoppe-Harnoncourt

Fig. 3 Floor plan of the first and the second levels of the Imperial Gallery, published in Christian Mechel’s catalogue of 1783

Fig. 3 Floor plan of the first and the second levels of the Imperial Gallery, published in Christian Mechel’s catalogue of 1783

Photo. Alice Hoppe-Harnoncourt

  • 5 Hoppe-Harnoncourt, A., “Geschichte der Restaurierung an der k.k. Gemäldegalerie. 1. Teil: 1772 bis (...)
  • 6  Jan van Eyck, Portrait of Cardinal Niccolò Albergati, c. 1435, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, I (...)
  • 7  Illustrated in Storffer’s inventory, Storffer, F., op. cit., vol.3, 1733, fol.16.
  • 8 Mechel, C., op. cit., p. 156, no.27.
  • 9  Another example with the same format history: German painter after A. Dürer, Portrait of Maximilia (...)

3Since the above-mentioned first catalogue by Mechel also documents the dimensions of the paintings, one can deduce that between 1772 and 1781 a large number of format changes must have taken place5. One of many examples is the portrait on panel Cardinal Niccolò Albergati by Jan van Eyck6: it was presented as a round painting in the Stallburg at least until 17727; however, in the catalogue of 1783, it is documented as being rectangular8. Obviously it had been necessary to cut off the corners to fit the portrait into the round frame that was integrated into the wall decoration. For this painting to be used with a rectangular frame in the Belvedere Gallery, the corners needed to be reconstructed. These replacements are visible upon close inspection of the painting. One must assume that this work was done within these years, and many other examples of the same kind support this theory9.

Fig. 4 Jan van Eyck, Portrait of Cardinal Niccolò Albergati, c. 1435

Fig. 4 Jan van Eyck, Portrait of Cardinal Niccolò Albergati, c. 1435

Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Inv. GG-975, oak, 34.1 x 29.3 cm

© Kunsthistorisches Museum

Fig. 5 Jan van Eyck’s Portrait of Cardinal Niccolò Albergati

Fig. 5 Jan van Eyck’s Portrait of Cardinal Niccolò Albergati

Portrait illustrated as a round painting in Storffer’s inventory, vol. 3, 1733, detail from fol. 16

© Kunsthistorisches Museum

  • 10  Titian, Nymph and Shepherd, c. 1570/75, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Inv. GG-1825, canvas, 14 (...)
  • 11  For information about the payments for restoration work, see the correspondence published in Hoppe (...)
  • 12  For the restoration history of this painting see Oberthaler, E., “Tizians Spätstil anhand von Nymp (...)
  • 13  Storffer’s inventory, Storffer, op. cit., vol. 3, no. 142. The illustration was either lost or the (...)
  • 14  Rosa Sr, J., Inventarium über Die in der Kaiserl. Königl. Bilder-Gallerie vorhandene Bilder und Ge (...)
  • 15 Mechel, C., op. cit., p. 26, no.42: Measurements without frame (converted) 152.7 x 184.3 cm. First (...)

4Another example of a restoration completed under Joseph Rosa Sr’s supervision as director is documented by a signature on the reverse of the canvas of Titian’s Nymph and Shepherd10, which says, “JHickel Rep: 1774”. From the 1770s on, the gallery staff consisted of three professionals: the director and two curators, Joseph Hickel having been one of the latter. They were all qualified academic painters, and the restoration of paintings was clearly part of their job11. Titian’s original painting was at some point extended on the left side. Since Hickel’s signature is partly on the back of this extension, most likely this section of the painting was added by him12. Before that, the picture had been exhibited in the Stallburg in the 1730s13. Then it was stored in the attic of the gallery without a strainer, as is mentioned in the inventory of 177214. Certainly something needed to be done to exhibit it in the newly installed gallery of the Belvedere, where it appears in the catalogue of 178315. Hickel’s enlargement positioned the shepherd more to the centre, so that his left arm was no longer delimited by the edge of the painting.

Fig. 6 Titian, Nymph and Shepherd, c. 1570/75

Fig. 6 Titian, Nymph and Shepherd, c. 1570/75

Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Inv. GG-1825, canvas, 149.6 x 187 cm, with a 16-cm addition on the left side

© Kunsthistorisches Museum

Fig. 7 Signature of the curator Joseph Hickel on the reverse of Titian’s Nymph and Shepherd

Fig. 7 Signature of the curator Joseph Hickel on the reverse of Titian’s Nymph and Shepherd

© Kunsthistorisches Museum

  • 16  Lucas Cranach the Younger, Portrait of a Man, 1564, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Inv. GG-885, (...)
  • 17  Inventory of Archduke Leopold William, op. cit., no. 330 and no. 331. The measurements for both pa (...)
  • 18  Mechel, C., op. cit., p. 251, no. 62. Measurements without frame (converted): 86.87 x 71.09 cm.
  • 19  The additions were removed in 1924. I wish to thank Monika Strolz for this image and the illustrat (...)
  • 20  In the inventory of 1772, see Rosa Sr, J., op. cit., and the catalogue of 1783, see Mechel, op. ci (...)

5To point out that the intervention in the format of Nymph and Shepherd was aesthetically motivated, I present another example of a panel painting which in my opinion was changed for the same reason: Lucas Cranach the Younger’s Portrait of a Man. This painting is listed in Archduke Leopold William’s inventory from 1659 together with its companion piece, the Portrait of a Woman16. At that point in time, they were the same size17. In the catalogue of 1783, only the male portrait is listed and its documented size shows that it must have been enlarged since 165918. In a photograph from the early twentieth century, the additions on the left and at the top are markedly apparent19. Of course we are tempted to think of the same aesthetic motivation that was responsible for the enlargement of Titian’s Nymph and Shepherd: the extension centred the sitter and avoided his arm being delimited by the left edge. The companion piece was never enlarged, even though they were exhibited next to each other at least from 1816 on20.

Fig. 8 Lucas Cranach the Younger, Portrait of a Man, 1564

Fig. 8 Lucas Cranach the Younger, Portrait of a Man, 1564

Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Inv. GG-885, panel, 84 x 64 cm. Photo from before 1924: the grey marks indicate the outline of the original panel

© Kunstverlag Wolfrum, Vienna; digitally edited by M. Eder, Kunsthistorisches Museum

Fig. 9 Lucas Cranach the Younger, Portrait of a Woman, 1564

Fig. 9 Lucas Cranach the Younger, Portrait of a Woman, 1564

 Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Inv. GG-886, panel, 83 x 64 cm

© Kunsthistorisches Museum

  • 21 Hoppe-Harnoncourt, A., 2001, op. cit., p. 152 and p. 159.

6After the gallery had been reorganized and the catalogue published, there were few records of treatments being carried out on paintings. One account from 1785 tells us of 15 paintings that had been relined; another mentions the same intervention in 180721. Other than that, no extra work is documented.

  • 22 Ibid., p. 156-163; for Heinrich Füger and the events of the Napoleonic wars see also Hoppe-Harnonco (...)
  • 23 Hoppe-Harnoncourt, A., 2001, op. cit., p. 160.
  • 24 Ibid., p. 162.
  • 25 Ibid., p. 162-163.
  • 26  Peter Paul Rubens, Assumption, c. 1611/14, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Inv. GG-518, panel, 4 (...)
  • 27 Hoppe-Harnoncourt, A., 2001, op. cit., p. 163-168.

7In the subsequent years Rosa Sr and his follower as director, Heinrich Füger, were highly affected in their activities by the Napoleonic Wars. The paintings in the gallery were evacuated five times between 1797 and 181322. There was supposedly too little time to think of restoration work, the main priority being to keep the paintings as safe as possible under those difficult circumstances. Füger had to ponder the construction of wooden boxes in which the paintings would travel for several months; for the evacuation in 1809, he proposed waterproofing them with waxed canvas strips23. After approximately 400 paintings had been removed from the gallery and travelled to Paris, where they stayed until their restitution in 1815, Füger had to fill in the gaps left with other paintings from storage. One piece of correspondence from 1811 mentions that the curator Joseph Rosa Jnr (the former director’s son) had had to restore 1235 paintings in 130 days to make all of them presentable in the gallery for the planned reopening. On average, Rosa Jnr must have completed the restoration of nine paintings a day! This enormous number excludes any treatment above and beyond cleaning or doing little retouchings24. There was one last evacuation transport in 1813 that included all 1235 paintings (in 1809 only half that number had been packed and sent). By now all this happened with great routine and good result: after unpacking the paintings in 1814, Füger reported that they had been preserved in good condition and could immediately be exhibited in the galleries25. In November 1815, the paintings from Paris returned and were to be integrated into the gallery as soon as possible. This work was done in half a year, and in June 1816 the gallery was ready to be reopened to the public. Within this half year a large amount of work was done on the restituted paintings: there are reports of bills for the carpenters and for canvases for relining, as well as for the gilding of the frames. We also know that external painters were hired to carry out restoration work. It is not documented for what kind of work the carpenters were hired. In conjunction with the bills for gilding, one can assume that their main work was to repair frames. Rubens’ Assumption26 came back in three pieces and was again exhibited in 1816. It is quite certain that constructional work by a carpenter needed to be completed before it could be reinstalled in the gallery27. It is cradled today, but in my opinion this was done a few years later, since before the late1820s cradling was never mentioned in any of the correspondence.

  • 28  “Eine Fähigkeit von geringerer Art, die dennoch mit dazugehört, ist, dass er die Gemälde wohl zu e (...)
  • 29 Hoppe-Harnoncourt, A., 2001, op. cit., p. 165-166: Füger’s son once mentioned that his father had r (...)
  • 30 Ibid., p. 174. This was not yet realized in the nineteenth century. August Schäffer was the last ar (...)
  • 31 Ibid., p. 173 and p. 176.

8The job advertisement for a director in 1805 defines the restoration of paintings as a minor job: important was for the director to know languages, have connoisseurship, and to be able to write texts. It is only the last point which mentions that “a minor ability, but still necessary, is that he [the future director] should know how to conserve paintings, how to clean and how to restore the damaged ones”28. From the records it is known that the two curators, Johann Tusch and Joseph Rosa Jnr, did restore; but I doubt that Füger did this work himself29. During the search for a new director in 1819, the responsible “Oberstkämmerer” proposed that not an artist, but an art expert, a “Kunstsachverständiger”, should possibly become the director of the Imperial Gallery30. Obviously they were looking for an organizer, rather than a painter, who was capable of doing the practical work himself (as Rosa Sr had done from 1772 on). After six long years without a decision, an artist, the landscape painter Joseph Rebell, was chosen. During the two years before Rebell was hired, the curator Karl Ruß ran the gallery as the only responsible person. Very often he commented on the poor condition of the gallery paintings: he considered their surfaces to be too dry, and therefore he cleaned and varnished the enormous number of 1299 paintings to save them until a new director was appointed31.

Introduction of new methods: Restoration between 1824 and 1833

  • 32 Ibid., p. 178; for Joseph Rebell as director of the Imperial Collection see also Oberthaler, E., “L (...)
  • 33 Hoppe-Harnoncourt, A., 2001, op. cit., p. 177.

9Rebell entered the gallery in autumn 1824. Disturbed by the bad state of the building and the paintings, he proposed the following: as he considered the restoration of the paintings to be the most important task, nothing new should be bought before the old paintings had been saved. For all the structural work that needed to be done – he mentioned relining and new stretchers – it was necessary to install a laboratory. For restoration, he planned to hire external painters to work in addition to the two curators, Karl Ruß and Sigmund von Perger. Rebell also proposed that very difficult restoration work should be done by artists from Milan or Venice, especially if it concerned Italian paintings32. To realize these plans an extraordinary budget of 8500 f. per year was granted33. The regular budget was 500 f., so Rebell was able to invest 8000 f. more within the next few years.

Fig. 10 Plan of the remaining buildings of the former zoo, one of them being the 1825-installed “Laboratorium”

Fig. 10 Plan of the remaining buildings of the former zoo, one of them being the 1825-installed “Laboratorium”

Detail from the “Grundplan sämtlicher Nebengebäude im k.k. obern Belvedere”, 1852. Vienna, Burghauptmannschaft, Planarchiv, Nr. C-IV-1

© Kunsthistorisches Museum

  • 34 Ibid., p. 179.
  • 35  Austrian State Archives, Vienna: Haus- Hof- und Staatsarchiv, Oberstkämmererakten, Reihe B, Z.1209 (...)

10In the same year, 1825, the laboratory was installed, so that the planned restoration work could be begun; and this included a kitchen, necessary to prepare varnishes and glues. Since these materials represented a fire hazard, the laboratory was placed in a separate building next to the Belvedere, in the former zoo. From the correspondence we learn that there was a differentiation made between the so-called “Hilfsarbeiten” – work that concerned the painting supports, which was performed by unskilled workers – and artistic work on the painting’s surface (such as cleaning, varnishing, and integrating losses with retouchings), which was done by the restorers. At that time the artists were not allowed to take the paintings to their studios, so they must have worked in the main building; the laboratory would have been much too small34. In 1832, cradling and lining were also done in the main building: during the warm season in the entrance hall and during winter time in rooms dedicated to the purpose35.

  • 36 Hoppe-Harnoncourt, A., 2001, op. cit., p. 180-181.

11Rebell also intended to solve climatic problems in order to prevent the paintings from suffering further damage due to temperature changes and humidity. As a result, a new heating system, designed by the engineer Paul Traugott Meißner, was installed in the Upper Belvedere Palace in 1826. Before that there had been little stoves in the gallery rooms. The new heating system had eight large fire units in the cellar, and the warm air was guided up from there through pipes that had openings in each room of the building. To reduce the humidity in the galleries, Rebell even ran the heating system in summer to make the rooms dryer. He was convinced that this measure would help to conserve the paintings36. Actually, the dry air turned out to be quite problematic for the panel paintings.

  • 37  Austrian State Archives, Vienna: Haus- Hof- und Staatsarchiv, Oberstkämmererakten, Reihe B, Z.1092 (...)

12In 1828, Rebell died and Peter Krafft immediately took over as the new director. In June 1829, three years after the start of the restoration project, the rooms on the first floor with the Italian paintings were finished (see fig. 3). This amounted to about 235 paintings in a three-year period. After announcing that achievement, Krafft asked for a grant of more money so that the German and Netherlandish paintings could be cradled immediately, before the cold season began and the heating system had to be started again. This letter clarifies what kind of work had been done on the supports until then and how quickly the newly installed heating system had caused damage to the panel paintings: “If necessary the paintings of that school [the last two rooms with the Venetian school] should be cradled, transferred, or lined on new canvas, tightened, and put on new stretchers [...]. Since Your Excellency ordered that the restoration work of the painters should not be interrupted, and also that the panel paintings of the German and Netherlandish schools be cradled in the course of this summer to avoid the danger of surface distortions and cracking due to the Meißner heating system, [...] therefore the above-signed [Krafft] most humbly asks for a further 1,500 fl C. M. [Conventions-Münze][...] with which it will be possible to save the most important paintings […] by Rubens, Rembrand, Dürer, etc., from further damage. [...] with this prevention the heating system will cause no further harm”37. Obviously the dry air caused the paintings to move and crack so much that cradling seemed the only solution to avoid even more damage. In 1830, the job of “Hausknecht” was given to the carpenter Michael Friedle, who had been working for the gallery during the last several years (already under Rebell). Krafft considered him to be highly

  • 38  Austrian State Archives, Vienna: Haus- Hof- und Staatsarchiv, Oberstkämmererakten, Reihe B, Z.1008 (...)
  • 39  Austrian State Archives, Vienna: Haus- Hof- und Staatsarchiv, Oberstkämmererakten, Reihe B, Z.1209 (...)

13skilled and trusted him to do further restoration work. It seems clear that it was Friedle who constructed the cradles38. In 1832, Krafft attempted to control the climatic problem by maintaining the temperature below 10 degrees. He was able to achieve this by closing the openings through which the warm air heated the gallery rooms39.

  • 40  Lucas Cranach the Elder, Judith with the Head of Holofernes, c. 1530, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vi (...)
  • 41 Rebell (?), J. between 1824 and 1828, Verzeichnis aller im Galeriegebäude befindlichen Gemälde, arc (...)
  • 42  We must take into account that during later restorationwork the old labels were taken off the back (...)

14Several marks on the reverse sides of panel paintings make it possible to define the type of cradle made under Rebell’s and Krafft’s supervision. A painting by Lucas Cranach the Elder, Judith with the Head of Holofernes40, was exhibited in the Upper Belvedere at the time. Looking at its back, one can see two kinds of labels glued onto the cradle. The earlier one is in the centre of the cradle, and it corresponds with an inventory book that was probably written under Rebell between 1824 and 182841. Krafft obviously used Rebell’s numbering system in the early 1830s, so the cradle can be dated to that “restoration campaign”42. The typical appearance can be described as follows: the vertical cradle members are glued onto the thinned original panel of the painting, and they have chamfered edges. The horizontal bars are flexible, except for the fixed ones at the bottom and the top. In the case of Judith, one can see that the top section was cut off at a later time, not only because the top bar is missing, but also because the later label has been cut.

Fig. 11 Reverse of Lucas Cranach the Elder, Judith with the Head of Holofernes, c. 1530

Fig. 11 Reverse of Lucas Cranach the Elder, Judith with the Head of Holofernes, c. 1530

Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Inv. GG-858, linden wood, 87 x 56 cm

© Kunsthistorisches Museum

  • 43  Umbrian Painter, Annunciation, c. 1500, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Inv. GG- 2537, transferr (...)
  • 44 Oberthaler, E., 2003, op. cit., p. 215. A label on the lower left side of the stretcher “Nr. 429, 1 (...)
  • 45  For example, in Krafft, A., Verzeichniss der kais. kön. Gemälde-Gallerie im Belvedere zu Wien, Vie (...)
  • 46  Follower of Luca Signorelli, Adoration of the Shepherds, around 1500, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vi (...)

15Cradling seems to have been the standard measure to preserve panel paintings, with only a few of them having been transferred from wood to canvas. An example of the latter is an Umbrian painting43 carrying an inscription on its reverse with the following information: “Signorelli. Von Holz abgenohmen und auf Leinwand übertragen. 1828” [Signorelli, transferred from wood onto canvas in 1828]44. In the catalogue of 1837, other paintings are described as having been transferred45, among them the Adoration of the Shepherds, then attributed to Signorelli46, the stretcher and the canvas of which look very much like the ones mentioned above. This would support the theory that the transfer was made during the restoration campaign between 1826 and 1833. So far, it can be said that cradling was the standard measure for panel paintings in the imperial collection; the few known examples of transfers mark it as a method used only exceptionally.

Fig. 12 Detail with the inscription which is on the reverse of an Umbrian Painting, Annunciation, c. 1500

Fig. 12 Detail with the inscription which is on the reverse of an Umbrian Painting, Annunciation, c. 1500

Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Inv. GG- 2537, transferred to canvas, 205 x 160 cm

Photo. Alice Hoppe-Harnoncourt

Fig. 13 Reverse of Follower of Luca Signorelli, Adoration of the Shepherds, around 1500

Fig. 13 Reverse of Follower of Luca Signorelli, Adoration of the Shepherds, around 1500

Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Inv. GG-313, transferred to canvas, 163 x 163.5 cm

Photo. Alice Hoppe-Harnoncourt

  • 47 “Czernin Johann Rudolf Graf”,Österreichisches Biographisches Lexikon 1815–1950 (ÖBL), vol. 1, Vienn (...)
  • 48  The paintings in question are Giuliano Bugiardini, The Rape of Diana, c. 1535, Kunsthistorisches M (...)
  • 49 Oberthaler, E., “Zur Geschichte der Restaurierwerkstätte der ‘k.k. Gemälde-Galerie’”, in Restaurier (...)

16Count Johann Rudolph Czernin (1757-1845) became head of the “Oberstkämmereramt” in 1824 at the same time that Rebell was appointed the new director of the Imperial Gallery47. As the supervisor, Czernin was probably the motor behind the restoration campaign. Another sign for his commitment to conservation is that he was the first to call a commission to discuss aesthetic problems caused by retouching paintings during restoration: in 1826, the curator Karl Ruß had criticized the restoration of two paintings that in his view had been retouched more than necessary. It is remarkable that Czernin called in an academic commission to discuss the matter48. Commissions of that sort had not been known before; but many years later, at the beginning of the twentieth century, the “Oberstkämmereramt” convened them on a regular basis49.

17In this brief overview of the history of restoration one becomes aware of the changing approach of the individuals involved. By the end of the eighteenth and in the early nineteenth century, the primary cause for interventions seemed to have been aesthetically motivated: adaptations according to the tastes of the time were made. Quite different from that are the severe interventions that took place in the late 1820s. They were the result of an attempt to prevent paintings from incurring further damage due to climatic changes. Ironically, one of these measures, the instalment of a new heating system, caused even worse damage. It is quite difficult for us to understand that the goal to preserve a painting’s surface was then considered far more estimable than the entire piece of art with its support. On the one hand we deplore the loss of many original reverse sides of panel paintings and on the other hand we appreciate the early discussions about retouching and the innovative approach to apply preventive care.

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Bibliography

Handwritten inventories in chronological order:

Storffer, F., Neu eingerichtes Inventarium der Kayl. Bilder Gallerie in der Stallburg welches nach denen Numeris und Maßstab ordiniret und von Ferdinand à Storffer gemahlen worden, 3 volumes on parchment, vol. I: 1720, vol. II: 1730, vol. III: 1733, archive of the Gemäldegalerie, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna.

Rosa Sr, J., Inventarium über die in der kaiserl. Königl. Bildergallerie vorhandenen Bilder und Gemälde, 1772, archive of the Gemäldegalerie, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna.

Rosa Jnr, J., Inventar Nr. 2. Haupt Verzeichnis der k.k. österreichischen Bilder Sammlung in dem Hofschlos Belvedere 1816 et 1817. Verfaßt v. Jos. Rosa. k.k. Gallerie Custos, archive of the Gemäldegalerie, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna.

Rebell (?), J., Verzeichnis aller im Galeriegebäude befindlichen Gemälde, between 1824 and 1828, archive of the Gemäldegalerie, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna.

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Meijers, D. J., Kunst als Natur. Die Habsburger Gemäldegalerie in Wien um 1780, Vienna 1995 (Schriften des Kunsthistorischen Museums, vol. 2).

Oberthaler, E., “Zur Geschichte der Restaurierwerkstätte der ‚k.k. Gemälde-Galerie’“, Restaurierte Gemälde. Die Restaurierwerkstätte der Gemäldegalerie des Kunsthistorischen Museums 1986 - 1996. Exhibition Catalogue Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna 1996, p. 26-22.

Oberthaler, E., “La campagna di restauro nella Galeria Imperiale di Vienna diretta da Joseph Rebell (1824-1828)”, Bolletino d’Arte, Volume Speciale 2003: Storia del restauro dei dipinit a Napoli e nel Regno nel XIX secolo. Atti del Convegno Internazionale di Studi. Napoli, Museo die Capodimonte, 14-16 ottobre 1999, p. 209-222.

Oberthaler, E., “Tizians Spätstil anhand von Nymphe und Schäfer”, in Der späte Titian und die Sinnlichkeit der Malerei, Exhibition Catalogue, Vienna/Venice 2007, p. 110-121.

Swoboda, G. and Slama, I., „Zur historischen Praxis von Formatveränderungen in der Stallburg-Galerie Kaiser Karls VI.: Guido Renis Reuiger Petrus“, Technologische Studien. Kunsthistorisches Museum, vol. 4, 2007, p. 103-121.

Swoboda, G. and Haag, S. (ed.), Die Galerie Kaiser Karls VI. in Wien. Solimenas Widmungsbild und Storffers Inventar (1820-1733), Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum 2010.

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Notes

1  Labels can help to date changes in the support. But we always have to be aware that the labels could also have been taken off and transferred to the newly applied cradle or stretcher. This has been done from case to case in the twentieth century (e.g., Albrecht Dürer, Portrait of Johannes Kleberger, 1526, Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna, Inv. GG-850, linden wood, 37 x 36.6 cm. The panel was cradled in 1946 and bears all the labels that were applied to the original reverse side in the course of the nineteenth century).

I want to thank Elke Oberthaler, Monika Strolz, Ute Tüchler, Ina Slama, and Natalia Gustavson for sharing these observations with me. For their good advice in several aspects of the history of the collection, I am also indebted to Gerlinde Gruber, Nora Fischer, Sabine Pénot, Wolfgang Prohaska, Karl Schütz, and Gudrun Swoboda.

2  “Evidenz- und Restaurierbücher” do exist from the 1870s on, but they basically only document how long a painting was in the studio and who worked on it.

3 Storffer, F., Neu eingerichtes Inventarium der Kayl. Bilder Gallerie in der Stallburg welches nach denen Numeris und Maßstab ordiniret und von Ferdinand à Storffer gemahlen worden, 3 volumes on parchment, vol. I: 1720, vol. II: 1730, and vol. III: 1733. Latest publication about the Stallburg Gallery of Emperor Charles VI and its inventory: Swoboda, G., and Haag, S., (ed.), Die Galerie Kaiser Karls VI. in Wien. Solimenas Widmungsbild und Storffers Inventar (1820-1733), exhibition catalogue, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna 2010.

4 Mechel, C., Verzeichniss der Gemälde der Kaiserlich Königlichen Bilder Gallerie in Wien, verfasst von Christian von Mechel nach der von ihm im Jahre 1781 gemachten neuen Einrichtung, Vienna 1783, p. XI: “Der Zweck alles Bestrebens gieng dahin, dieses schöne durch seine zahlreiche Zimmer-Abtheilungen dazu völlig geschaffne Gebäude so zu benutzen, dass die Einrichtung im Ganzen, so wie in den Theilen lehrreich, und so viel möglich, sichtbare Geschichte der Kunst werden möchte.” More about the new gallery installed by C. Mechel in Meijers, D. J., Kunst als Natur. Die Habsburger Gemäldegalerie in Wien um 1780, Vienna 1995 (Schriften des Kunsthistorischen Museums, 2).

5 Hoppe-Harnoncourt, A., “Geschichte der Restaurierung an der k.k. Gemäldegalerie. 1. Teil: 1772 bis 1828”, Jahrbuch der kunsthistorischen Sammlungen in Wien, NF vol. 2, Vienna 2001, p. 135-206, p. 142-146, and p. 151-152. Further examples of format changes at that time are described by Gruber, G., “‘En un mot j’ai pensé à tout’. Das Engagement des Wenzel Anton von Kaunitz-Rietberg für die Neuaufstellung der Gemäldegalerie im Belvedere”, Jahrbuch des Kunsthistorischen Museums, NF vol. 10, Vienna 2008, p. 193-195; Swoboda, G., and Slama, I., “Zur historischen Praxis von Formatveränderungen in der Stallburg-Galerie Kaiser Karls VI: Guido Renis Reuiger Petrus”, Technologische Studien. Kunsthistorisches Museum, vol. 4, 2007, p. 103-121.

6  Jan van Eyck, Portrait of Cardinal Niccolò Albergati, c. 1435, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Inv. GG-975, oak, 34.1 x 29.3 cm.

7  Illustrated in Storffer’s inventory, Storffer, F., op. cit., vol.3, 1733, fol.16.

8 Mechel, C., op. cit., p. 156, no.27.

9  Another example with the same format history: German painter after A. Dürer, Portrait of Maximilian I, c. 1530, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Inv. Nr. GG-880, panel, 40 x 31 cm. Illustrated in Storffer’s inventory, Storffer, F., op. cit., vol.3, 1733, fol. 16, as oval shaped and listed in Mechel’s catalogue of 1783, Mechel, C., op. cit., p. 258-259, no.88, as a rectangular painting.

10  Titian, Nymph and Shepherd, c. 1570/75, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Inv. GG-1825, canvas, 149.6 x 187 cm.

11  For information about the payments for restoration work, see the correspondence published in Hoppe-Harnoncourt, A., 2001, op. cit., p. 139-141.

12  For the restoration history of this painting see Oberthaler, E., “Tizians Spätstil anhand von Nymphe und Schäfer”, in Der späte Titian und die Sinnlichkeit der Malerei, exhibition catalogue, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna 2007, p. 110-121, p. 111-112.

13  Storffer’s inventory, Storffer, op. cit., vol. 3, no. 142. The illustration was either lost or the volume was never finished. See Swoboda, G., “Die verdoppelte Galerie. Die Kunstsammlungen Kaiser Karls VI. in der Wiener Stallburg und ihr Inventar” in Swoboda, G., and Haag, S., (ed.), op. cit., p. 21.

14  Rosa Sr, J., Inventarium über Die in der Kaiserl. Königl. Bilder-Gallerie vorhandene Bilder und Gemälde, 1772, archive of the Gemäldegalerie, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, No. 42 (Galerieböden): “ohne Blindrahm, schadhaft von einem unbekannten Meister”.

15 Mechel, C., op. cit., p. 26, no.42: Measurements without frame (converted) 152.7 x 184.3 cm. First mentioned in the imperial collection in the handwritten inventory of Archduke Leopold William of 1659, Inventarium aller vnndt jeder Ihrer hochfürstlichen Durchleücht Herrn Herrn Leopoldt Wilhelmen […] zue Wienn vorhandenen Mahllereyen, published in Berger, A., “Inventar der Kunstsammlungen des Erzherzogs Leopold Wilhelm von Österreich. Nach der Originalhandschrift im fürstlich Schwarzenberg’schen Centralarchive”, Jahrbuch der kunsthistorischen Sammlungen des Allerhöchsten Kaiserhauses, vol. 1, 1883, p. LXXXVI-CLXXVII, Reg. Nr. 495, no. 174: measurements inclusive frame (converted) 160 x 187 cm. If one compares the historic measurements, it can be seen that between 1659 and 1783 an extension must have taken place. Since the illustration in the Stallburg inventory is missing, there is no evidence of the size before the restoration in 1774. The unusual fact that Hickel signed and dated his work could support the theory that the extension was done by him. See also E. Oberthaler’s opinion, in Oberthaler, E., 2007, op. cit., p. 112 and note 13.

16  Lucas Cranach the Younger, Portrait of a Man, 1564, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Inv. GG-885, panel, 84 x 64 cm and Portrait of a Woman, 1564, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Inv. GG-886, panel, 83 x 64 cm.

17  Inventory of Archduke Leopold William, op. cit., no. 330 and no. 331. The measurements for both paintings are documented, inclusive frames (converted) 108.16 x 87.36 cm.

18  Mechel, C., op. cit., p. 251, no. 62. Measurements without frame (converted): 86.87 x 71.09 cm.

19  The additions were removed in 1924. I wish to thank Monika Strolz for this image and the illustration.

20  In the inventory of 1772, see Rosa Sr, J., op. cit., and the catalogue of 1783, see Mechel, op. cit., we only find the male portrait, the woman appears as a companion piece as early as 1816 (in the handwritten inventory of Rosa Jnr, J. Haupt Verzeichnis der k.k. österreichischen Bilder Sammlung in dem Hofschlos Belvedere 1816 et 1817, verfaßt v. Jos. Rosa. k.k. Gallerie Custos, archive of the Gemäldegalerie, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, 2nd floor, 1st room, no. 69). As can be observed frequently in German sixteenth-century companion piece portraits, the artist positioned the female sitter further to the rear. Also observed in several cases in Cranach the Elder’s oeuvre by HOLSTE, T., Die Porträkunst Lucas Cranach d. Ä., doctoral dissertation, University of Kiel 2004. This is the reason why in our example the sitter does not touch the edges. An extension to place her in the centre of the composition was therefore unnecessary.

21 Hoppe-Harnoncourt, A., 2001, op. cit., p. 152 and p. 159.

22 Ibid., p. 156-163; for Heinrich Füger and the events of the Napoleonic wars see also Hoppe-Harnoncourt, A., “Le Guerre Napoleoniche ed il Caso di Heinrich Füger Direttore della Galeria Imperiale di Vienna (1806-1818)”, Bollettino d’Arte, Volume Speziale 2003: Storia del restauro dei dipinti a Napoli e nel Regno nel XIX secolo. Atti del Convegno Internazionale di Studi. Napoli, Museo di Capodimonte, 14-16 ottobre 1999, p. 197-208.

23 Hoppe-Harnoncourt, A., 2001, op. cit., p. 160.

24 Ibid., p. 162.

25 Ibid., p. 162-163.

26  Peter Paul Rubens, Assumption, c. 1611/14, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Inv. GG-518, panel, 458 x 297 cm.

27 Hoppe-Harnoncourt, A., 2001, op. cit., p. 163-168.

28  “Eine Fähigkeit von geringerer Art, die dennoch mit dazugehört, ist, dass er die Gemälde wohl zu erhalten, zu reinigen und die schadhaften herzustellen wisse.“ Quote after BURG, A., “Einige Urkunden zur Geschichte der Gemäldegalerien im Anfang des XIX. Jahrhunderts“, Jahrbuch des kunsthistorischen Institutes der k.k. Zentral-Kommission, vol. 5, 1911, p. 194–204, p. 197f.

29 Hoppe-Harnoncourt, A., 2001, op. cit., p. 165-166: Füger’s son once mentioned that his father had restored Rubens’ Assumption in 1815. It is more likely that he wanted to express that this work was done under his father’s supervision as director.

30 Ibid., p. 174. This was not yet realized in the nineteenth century. August Schäffer was the last artist in that position until 1910; after him Gustav Glück took over and was the first art historian to run the Imperial Picture Gallery.

31 Ibid., p. 173 and p. 176.

32 Ibid., p. 178; for Joseph Rebell as director of the Imperial Collection see also Oberthaler, E., “La campagna di restauro nella Galeria Imperiale di Vienna diretta da Joseph Rebell (1824-1828)”, Bollettino d’Arte, Volume Speciale, in Storia del restauro dei dipinti a Napoli e nel Regno nel XIX secolo. Atti del Convegno Internazionale di Studi. Napoli, Museo die Capodimonte, 14-16 ottobre 1999, 2003, p. 209-222.

33 Hoppe-Harnoncourt, A., 2001, op. cit., p. 177.

34 Ibid., p. 179.

35  Austrian State Archives, Vienna: Haus- Hof- und Staatsarchiv, Oberstkämmererakten, Reihe B, Z.1209/1832.

36 Hoppe-Harnoncourt, A., 2001, op. cit., p. 180-181.

37  Austrian State Archives, Vienna: Haus- Hof- und Staatsarchiv, Oberstkämmererakten, Reihe B, Z.1092/1829: Krafft to Count Czernin (Head of the "Oberstkämmereramt”) 18 June  1829: "[…] auch sind bereits alle Bilder dieser Schule, bey denen es nothwendig war, parquettirt, übertragen, auf neue Leinwand aufgezogen, frisch gespannt und mit neuen Blindrahmen versehen,[…]. Da nun nach Eur. Excellenz hohen Befehl die Restauration der Mahler Arbeiten nicht unterbrochen werden darf, und jene auf Holz gemahlten Bilder der Teutschen und Niederländischen Schulen bey der neuen Meißnerschen Heitzung der k.k. Galerie, um alle Gefahr des Werfens und Springens zu beseitigen, ebenfalls im Laufe dieses Sommers nach Eur. Excellenz mündlicher Äußerung, noch parquettirt werden müssen, so bittet der gehorsamst Unterzeichnete um Bewilligung fernerer 1500 f. C.M.[…] womit die wichtigsten Gemälde letztgenannter Schulen, besonders jener des Rubens, Rembrand, Dürer etc. vor allem ferneren Schaden gesichert werden können.[…] und durch diese Vorarbeiten die Heitzung jedenfalls unschädlich gemacht wird.”

38  Austrian State Archives, Vienna: Haus- Hof- und Staatsarchiv, Oberstkämmererakten, Reihe B, Z.1008/1830 and Z.1586/1810.

39  Austrian State Archives, Vienna: Haus- Hof- und Staatsarchiv, Oberstkämmererakten, Reihe B, Z.1209/1832.

40  Lucas Cranach the Elder, Judith with the Head of Holofernes, c. 1530, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Inv. GG-858, linden wood, 87 x 56 cm.

41 Rebell (?), J. between 1824 and 1828, Verzeichnis aller im Galeriegebäude befindlichen Gemälde, archive of the Gemäldegalerie, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna.

42  We must take into account that during later restorationwork the old labels were taken off the backs and either glued on the new label again or kept somewhere else (see above note 1). The observation of the typical appearance of many cradles that carry the same combination of labels as shown here supports the theory that they were done under Rebell’s and Krafft’s custody. Elke Oberthaler called this period appropriately a “restoration campaign” in her paper “La campagna di restauro nella Galeria Imperiale di Vienna diretta da Joseph Rebell (1824-1828)”, read in Napels in 1999, published as Oberthaler, E., 2003, op. cit.

43  Umbrian Painter, Annunciation, c. 1500, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Inv. GG- 2537, transferred from wood to canvas, 205 x 160 cm.

44 Oberthaler, E., 2003, op. cit., p. 215. A label on the lower left side of the stretcher “Nr. 429, 1833, Depot” informs us that this was actually a painting that Krafft did not exhibit in the galleries and put into storage, although it had recently been transferred under Rebell’s care.

45  For example, in Krafft, A., Verzeichniss der kais. kön. Gemälde-Gallerie im Belvedere zu Wien, Vienna 1837, p. 193, no. 15: Albrecht Dürer, Martyrdom of the Ten Thousand, 1508, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Inv. GG-835, transferred from wood to canvas, 99 x 87 cm.

46  Follower of Luca Signorelli, Adoration of the Shepherds, around 1500, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Inv. GG-313, transferred from wood to canvas, 163 x 163.5 cm. In Krafft 1837, op. cit., p. 80, no. 52.

47 “Czernin Johann Rudolf Graf”,Österreichisches Biographisches Lexikon 1815–1950 (ÖBL), vol. 1, Vienna 1957, p. 161.

48  The paintings in question are Giuliano Bugiardini, The Rape of Diana, c. 1535, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Inv. GG-1554, canvas, 159.5 x 183 cm; and Fra Bartolomeo, Christ in the Temple, 1516, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Inv. GG-207, panel, 155 x 159 cm.; Hoppe-Harnoncourt, A., 2001, op. cit., p. 184-186.

49 Oberthaler, E., “Zur Geschichte der Restaurierwerkstätte der ‘k.k. Gemälde-Galerie’”, in Restaurierte Gemälde. Die Restaurierwerkstätte der Gemäldegalerie des Kunsthistorischen Museums 1986 - 1996, exhibition catalogue, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna 1996, p. 26-22, p. 31-32.

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List of illustrations

Title Fig. 1 Folio 31 from the second volume of Storffer’s inventory showing the Baroque arrangement of the paintings
Credits © Kunsthistorisches Museum
URL http://ceroart.revues.org/docannexe/image/2336/img-1.jpg
File image/jpeg, 608k
Title Fig. 2 View of the Upper Belvedere Palace after a drawing by G. Nigeli from 1781
Caption Published in Christian von Mechel’s catalogue of 1783
Credits Photograph of the French edition of Mechel’s catalogue taken by Alice Hoppe-Harnoncourt
URL http://ceroart.revues.org/docannexe/image/2336/img-2.jpg
File image/jpeg, 1.8M
Title Fig. 3 Floor plan of the first and the second levels of the Imperial Gallery, published in Christian Mechel’s catalogue of 1783
Credits Photo. Alice Hoppe-Harnoncourt
URL http://ceroart.revues.org/docannexe/image/2336/img-3.jpg
File image/jpeg, 820k
Title Fig. 4 Jan van Eyck, Portrait of Cardinal Niccolò Albergati, c. 1435
Caption Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Inv. GG-975, oak, 34.1 x 29.3 cm
Credits © Kunsthistorisches Museum
URL http://ceroart.revues.org/docannexe/image/2336/img-4.jpg
File image/jpeg, 1.1M
Title Fig. 5 Jan van Eyck’s Portrait of Cardinal Niccolò Albergati
Caption Portrait illustrated as a round painting in Storffer’s inventory, vol. 3, 1733, detail from fol. 16
Credits © Kunsthistorisches Museum
URL http://ceroart.revues.org/docannexe/image/2336/img-5.jpg
File image/jpeg, 376k
Title Fig. 6 Titian, Nymph and Shepherd, c. 1570/75
Caption Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Inv. GG-1825, canvas, 149.6 x 187 cm, with a 16-cm addition on the left side
Credits © Kunsthistorisches Museum
URL http://ceroart.revues.org/docannexe/image/2336/img-6.jpg
File image/jpeg, 88k
Title Fig. 7 Signature of the curator Joseph Hickel on the reverse of Titian’s Nymph and Shepherd
Credits © Kunsthistorisches Museum
URL http://ceroart.revues.org/docannexe/image/2336/img-7.jpg
File image/jpeg, 188k
Title Fig. 8 Lucas Cranach the Younger, Portrait of a Man, 1564
Caption Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Inv. GG-885, panel, 84 x 64 cm. Photo from before 1924: the grey marks indicate the outline of the original panel
Credits © Kunstverlag Wolfrum, Vienna; digitally edited by M. Eder, Kunsthistorisches Museum
URL http://ceroart.revues.org/docannexe/image/2336/img-8.jpg
File image/jpeg, 660k
Title Fig. 9 Lucas Cranach the Younger, Portrait of a Woman, 1564
Caption  Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Inv. GG-886, panel, 83 x 64 cm
Credits © Kunsthistorisches Museum
URL http://ceroart.revues.org/docannexe/image/2336/img-9.jpg
File image/jpeg, 436k
Title Fig. 10 Plan of the remaining buildings of the former zoo, one of them being the 1825-installed “Laboratorium”
Caption Detail from the “Grundplan sämtlicher Nebengebäude im k.k. obern Belvedere”, 1852. Vienna, Burghauptmannschaft, Planarchiv, Nr. C-IV-1
Credits © Kunsthistorisches Museum
URL http://ceroart.revues.org/docannexe/image/2336/img-10.jpg
File image/jpeg, 868k
Title Fig. 11 Reverse of Lucas Cranach the Elder, Judith with the Head of Holofernes, c. 1530
Caption Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Inv. GG-858, linden wood, 87 x 56 cm
Credits © Kunsthistorisches Museum
URL http://ceroart.revues.org/docannexe/image/2336/img-11.jpg
File image/jpeg, 788k
Title Fig. 12 Detail with the inscription which is on the reverse of an Umbrian Painting, Annunciation, c. 1500
Caption Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Inv. GG- 2537, transferred to canvas, 205 x 160 cm
Credits Photo. Alice Hoppe-Harnoncourt
URL http://ceroart.revues.org/docannexe/image/2336/img-12.jpg
File image/jpeg, 308k
Title Fig. 13 Reverse of Follower of Luca Signorelli, Adoration of the Shepherds, around 1500
Caption Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Inv. GG-313, transferred to canvas, 163 x 163.5 cm
Credits Photo. Alice Hoppe-Harnoncourt
URL http://ceroart.revues.org/docannexe/image/2336/img-13.jpg
File image/jpeg, 520k
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References

Electronic reference

Alice Hoppe-Harnoncourt, « The Restoration of Paintings at the Beginning of the Nineteenth Century in the Imperial Gallery », CeROArt [Online], HS | 2012, Online since 10 April 2012, connection on 24 July 2017. URL : http://ceroart.revues.org/2336

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About the author

Alice Hoppe-Harnoncourt

Pendant ses études d’histoire de l´art à l’Université de Vienne en Autriche, Alice Hoppe-Harnoncourt s´est intéressée à l´histoire de la restauration au XIXe siècle. À côté de son travail actuel de recherche pour le catalogue raisonné des peintures allemandes au Kunsthistorisches Museum de Vienne, elle prépare une thèse de doctorat ayant pour sujet l´histoire des collections impériales Viennoises autour de 1800.

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Copyright

Licence Creative Commons
CeROArt – Conservation, exposition, restauration d'objets d'arts est mis à disposition selon les termes de la licence Creative Commons Attribution - Pas d'Utilisation Commerciale - Pas de Modification 4.0 International.

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