A Paper Conservator’s Print Collection at Tübingen University

Wolfgang Blauert, no title/undated, intaglio print showing (counter-clockwise from the bottom): mezzotint, engraving, soft ground, dry point, roulette, aquatint, etching, 27.0 x 25.2 cm, Graphische Sammlung, Eberhard Karls Universität, Tübingen. Photo: Karen Köhler.

Collecting prints is an interest not exclusive to art collectors. Among others, it has been pursued by paper conservators, especially those specializing in the treatment of artworks, out of a love of art; an interest in artists’ methods and the technical intricacies of paper and media that are the material basis of print production; and formerly, as a supply of materials. The earliest such collections, associated with 19th-century restorers, were literally used—even used up—in the process of restoration, as can be seen by extant restoration work.1 In order to make complicated, hardly visible repairs on saleable but damaged prints, matching pieces of paper were cut from old prints deemed to have no commercial value (many were donated for this purpose). Today, of course, professional ethics have changed such that cannibalizing historic materials—even blank paper—is out of the question.2

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  1. Karin Holzherr, “Beispiele für Restaurierungen durch Johann Michael von Hermann und Ludwig Albert von Montmorillon” and Susanne Wagini, “Johann Michael von Hermann (1793–1855). ‘Erfinder der wahren Kupferstich- Restauration’ und Vorläufer von Max Schweidler,” in Susanne Wagini, ed., Lucas van Leyden 1489/94–1533: Meister der Druckgraphik (Berlin: Deutscher Kunstverlag, 2017). []
  2. Selina Dieter, Irene Brückle, Oliver Masson, and Georg Josef Dietz, “Print Facsimile Repairs on Old Master Prints or What we can learn from Schweidler,” Journal of Paper Conservation—Mitteilungen der IADA 19, no.1 (2018): 5–17 []