Skip to content

Behind the Scenes in Conservation: Once upon a time…

by Conservation


Joseph Urban , Heinrich Lefler , Brothers Grimm , works on paper , paper conservation , Unlocking an Art Deco Bedroom

Once upon a time…

A group of illustrations of Brothers Grimm fairy tales were prepared for matting.  The illustrations from the Mary R. Schiff Library by Heinrich Lefler and Joseph Urban will be on display beginning July 8 in the museum’s exhibition Unlocking an Art Deco Bedroom by Joseph Urban.  The prints are from a portfolio donated to the library by Mrs. Samuel Taft in 1924.  Lefler and Urban collaborated on illustrations that were used in children’s books and calendars and were also offered for sale unbound, as these are.  The museum’s prints are chromolithographs, one example shown here printed with gold ink that stands out in contrast to the muted colors and enhances the rich, decorative quality of the illustrations.  Some of the original paintings can be found in the Joseph Urban papers at Columbia University Libraries Archival Collections in New York. 

The prints are in good condition, suffering only from minor wear to the grey paper mounts and grime from handling.  In the second picture grime is being removed from Rapunzel, dark eraser crumbs showing the amount of dirt picked up from the mount.  The thick mounts have small edge tears that the paper conservator mended.  Visit the exhibition this summer to see more illustrations from Grimm’s fairy tales.

^Heinrich Lefler (Austrian, 1863-1919), Joseph Urban (American, 1872-1933), Rapunzel, chromolithograph, 1911

^Rapunzel, during grime removal

^Heinrich Lefler (Austrian, 1863-1919), Joseph Urban (American, 1872-1933), Mary’s Child, chromolithograph, 1911