The Scherz. Restoration of a family portrait

Presentation of the restoration intervention of a large family group portrait of Filip Scherz de Vaszója.

Pálffy Palace, Panská 19, Bratislava

Curator: Jana Luková

Works restored by: Anna Gregová, Barbara Davidson

In 2018, the Bratislava City Gallery began cooperating with the Historical Museum (Budapesti Történeti Múzeum) and the Hungarian Academy of Fine Arts in Budapest (Magyar Képzőművészeti Egyetem), in order to prepare an international exhibition project that would present the work and activities of the Italian artist – Jakub Marastoni (1804 Venice – 1860 Pest).

In addition to the expected hosting of the traveling exhibition, that has not yet taken place because of the pandemic, one of our main tasks was to re-restore one of Marastoni's most important works – a large family group portrait of Filip Scherz de Vaszója, which is part of the gallery's collection. Barbara Davidson and Anna Gregová, restorers and long-term employees of GMB, undertook this time-consuming and professionally demanding intervention in 2019. Over time, in addition to the gallery's implementation team, other experts were involved in the project, which has created a more comprehensive picture of this iconic Biedermeier era artwork.

The aim of this small exhibition is to present the restoration intervention and the material and technical analysis of the composition of the artwork, carried out by Zuzana Machatová from the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava. In addition to the group portrait of Filip Scherz's family, she also included another solitaire from the GMB collection – a portrait of the priest Karol Scherz. Her research was aimed at the comparison of the stratigraphy and material composition of the colour layers of the artworks by microscopy and FTIR spectroscopy methods. The optical surveys based on infrared radiation by Patrik Farkaš from Palacký University in Olomouc contributed exceptionally to the clarification of the issue of painting portrayal of the priest Karol Scherz.

Last but not least, thanks to historical research, we also found out new genealogical connections and more precise knowledge about the members of the Scherz family and their position within the Pressburg financial and social city elites. Elena Kurincová from the Museum of the City of Bratislava, who has been dealing with this topic for a long time, managed to confirm or refute some previous hypotheses regarding the identification of several depicted family members.

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