O nieznanym wkładzie Karola Soczyńskiego do nauki o konserwacji malowideł i grafiki
AN UNKNOWN CONTRIBUTION BY KAROL SOCZYŃSKI TO CONSERVATION OF PAINTINGS AND GRAPHIC ART
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Our knowledge in the field of history of conservation is being permanently extended and with every passing year grows more and more deep. So, for ex ample, for a further step on the way to its enriching we are greatly indebted to I. Bobrowska, Chief Conservator, National Museum, Cracow who during the German occupation of Poland from among the cultural property and works of art robbed by the Nazis managed to pick up and to safeguard a valuable manuscript. The manuscript in question coming from the year 1840 and bearing a somewhat lengthy title „The Art of Restoration of Paintings, of Engravings and Woodcuts nevertheless of Their Cleaning, Stretching and That of Preparing Varnishes etc. etc., According to Various Italian, French and German Authors translated into Polish Language and furnished with Remarks and Supplements” is a work of Karol Soczyński. In his present article the author made an attempt to point to importance of the above manuscript and to give a portrait of its author. Karol Soczyński (died 1862), Med. Dr., a Professor at the Yaghiellonian University, a Senator of the Free Republic of Cracow and a member of the Cracow Scientific Society belonged to a group of the outstanding art connoisseurs in Poland of his time. He possessed quite large, in proportion to those in the first half of the nineteenth century, library and was a freelancing contributor to the then widely read periodical „PIAST or the Technological Thesaurus” where he had published more than one thousand contributions. However, the most interesting for the technological ex perts and conservators of works of art items forming his extremely abundant oeuvre were never printed and thus considered as those lost for ever. According to Soczyński himself it seemed that they have been swallowed up by the great fire of Cracow in 1850. It may, therefore, be said that the recovered manuscript „The Art of Restoration...” was until recently not known from the subject literature and it does, no doubt, constitute a new and remarkable contribution to the history of conservation of paintings and graphic art. This exceptionally high historical importance of Soczyński’s manuscript consists at least in two basic factors, namely that it constitutes one of the rare in the mid-nineteenth-century Europe (and at the same time the first among the Polish) so comprehensive manuals in the area of conservation and, in addition, that it is not simply a compilation made of materials found in one or two works dating from the same time. While briefly reviewing the general situation in conservation of paintings within the period of 1800—40 the author supplies a number of warrants for his claims that are in turn followed by a confrontation of fragments quoted from the nineteenth-century conservation manuals with the text of manuscript by Soczyński. As a result the conclusion can be drawn that for a manual with such comprehensive contents an analogy may be found only in a few most comprehensive works published within the span between 1800 and 1840 as, for instance, those by Lucanus or Pranger. A more detailed analysis of problems discussed by Soczyński in his „Art of Restoration...” on the background of other books and the practice of conservation will be presented by the author in his next article.
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