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The Scherzs. Restoration of a family portrait

Exceptional artwork from Bratislava City Gallery collection got a refreshed new look thanks to vast restoration

Painting depicting the family of one of the wealthiest persons in former Pressburg commanded attention even at the time of its creation in 1835. To paint a large-scaled artwork with 11 above-lifesized figures was time and finance consuming.

This Biedermeier era painting nowadays belongs to iconic artworks not only due to story behind, but also because of the fact it was acquired by a public institution.

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 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.

Thanks to historical research, 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 were also found out. 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.