Old Master Prints and Drawings: A Guide to Preservation and Conservation

Old Master Prints and Drawings: A Guide to Preservation and Conservation

Old Master Prints and Drawings: A Guide to Preservation and Conservation

Old Master Prints and Drawings: A Guide to Preservation and Conservation


This long awaited English edition of Manuale per la conservazione e il restauro di disegni e stampe antichi (1991) offers a clear and complete manual for the preservation and conservation of old master prints and drawings. The authors throw light on the historical and scientific backgrounds concerning the problems of restoration techniques of arts on paper, from 1150, when paper was first introduced in Europe, until the middle of the nineteenth century. The book is indispensable for anyone occupied with the study and conservation of old prints and drawings. This richly illustrated, first English edition is revised and brought fully up to date.


When in 1981 THE FOUR-HUNDREDTH anniversary of the founding of the Uffizi Galleries was celebrated with seminars and exhibitions, it seemed to us that the most appropriate and useful way that the Drawing and Print Cabinet could contribute to this important occasion was not to indulge in the usual reflections on the evolution and make-up of its own collections but rather to focus our attention on more problematic aspects, such as preservation and conservation.

Insofar as paper is concerned, that material which by its physical and chemical nature is doubtless one of the most fragile and delicate substances yet which from the Middle Ages until now has been entrusted with artistic messages of the greatest value, these problematic aspects have always been significant, even pressing, and they continue to be so today. It was obvious, then, that to put forward these aspects was the obligation of an institution responsible for the care of a collection not only of substantial size and quality but also one whose nucleus originated in the Renaissance, so that all those problems of usage and transformation by its collectors and custodians that would inevitably lend a historical perspective to this study would be raised.

We emphatically do not want to imply by the foregoing any lack of more general conservation and preservation efforts on behalf of works of art on paper. To the contrary, in many Italian and foreign institutions, museums and others, these problems have been given serious consideration and reconsideration with the most modern means, even, as at the Drawing and Print Cabinet of the Uffizi, over several generations. Yet these activities were known to specialists, who though they certainly worked at a very high professional level stiff were segregated into specific areas, without any constructive exchange of scholarly and technical information for the protection of a significant portion of the cultural heritage preserved on paper that remains in institutions without conservation facilities or with private collectors whose preservation problems are certainly not the responsibility of institutions.

In truth, the main reason that we pushed for an exhibition at the Uffizi was because there was no other mechanism to put these problems before the public eye, to treat them thoroughly and systematically. An event that by dramatizing the possibility of disastrous, irreparable loss also suggested means toward their resolution, by opening up our ideas to an engagement with other working groups in a frank and constructive dialogue. Among the positive results of this exhibition, which some in a joking way have styled as 'terrorist' in that a warning of danger and an imperative for caution were so unexpectedly given, are counted the sensitization of a large sector of public opinion (this was one of the most popular exhibitions among those mounted periodically at the Uffizi Galleries) to the exceptional fragility of works of art on paper and the necessity for special care in their preservation.

Yet it seems to me that a still more important result has been the exposure of a significant gap in the specialised literature, the absence of a profoundly synthesizing work which, gathering . . .

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