The filigree silver bust of the Austrian emperor and Hungarian king, Ferenc the 1st is one of the most remarkable pieces of the Museum of Applied Arts' precious goldsmith collection. The bust was made of thin braided wire with filigree technique. The 72 cm high, pure silver statue was composed by Sámuel Líbay in the first part of the 19th century. He was a prominent figure of goldsmith art of his time.
The piece to be restored was covered with a black layer of corrosion. The head part was badly damaged: the nose and some parts surrounding the mouth were missing. There had already been an attempt to repair the piece when they used tin as a soldering. This factor made the restoration quite difficult since I had to remove the traces of soldering.
I used the technique originally applied to the piece to supplement its missing parts, thus cabling the hair's-bread thin wires made of finesilver, and forming various motives.
The word 'filigree' comes from the two Italian stems "fila"-"line" and "grano"-"core". It stands for a soldered item or an ornament made from precious metal-wire. This technique was already used by the Greek goldsmiths in the 5th - 3rd centuries B.C. It was applied in almost all periods and was extremely popular in the Roman era. In the 17th and 18th centuries the filigree technique was used to make fashionable, miniature silver furniture and toys. As far as Hungarian silversmith tradition is concerned, filigree ornaments played a prominent role. Enamel-wire and Transylvanian enamel, which were ornaments of folk jewellery, developed from filigree technique. Many ecclesiastical objects, such as incense, and the spice rack, which was the ritual appurtenance of the Jewish Hávdálá-ceremony, were made by filigree technique. The 19th century brought a new virtuosity: the making of filigree-surface statues.
2. The rape of the Sabine women, statuette (restoration of sculpture)
The restored piece belongs to the statue collection of the Museum of Fine Arts. Its height is 56 cm. The late 19th century reproduction was done according to the three-figured marble statue by Giovanni da Bologna. The brass piece was damaged in many parts, it was also gappy, and it was quite contaminated. The museum asked me to leave the supplements visible while replacing the missing parts. I changed the fixings, then I cleaned the piece, and I conserved it.
3. Royal vases for the Office of the President of the Republic of Hungary (The Sándor Palace) (restoration of ornamental metalwork)
One metal vase is ornamented with a ram head, and also with a snake-ear, the other is embellished with a devil's head. The main motives were complemented by rich ornamentation. The vases are almost one-and-a-half metres high and 60 centimetres diameter; they are cavernous from the inside. They are made from embossed red copper membrane. The vase with the ram head and the snake-ear is also ornamented by acanthus leaves, oval negligee, palmettes, and a fruit-festoon. On the vase with the devil head ornamentation there are conventionalized wiggling-snake handles; between the devils' heads there is an embossing entwined by an acorn-festoon consisting of oak leaves.
The vases were prepared for the Garden of Buda Royal Castle. While designing the Buda Royal Palace Alajos Hauszman also created art pieces for the ornamental garden, such as the above mentioned two vases. According to Alajos Hauszman's scheme it was the era's greatly talented sculptor, Antal Szabó, who modelled the vases. Plenty of the statuary found in the New York Palace and in the College of Liszt Ferenc Music Academy are also connected with his name. The preparatory work of the vases was done by braziers by Ármin and Ferenc Steiner.
Besides many pieces of fine workmanship these vases, embossed by the Steiner brothers, represented Hungary at the world fair of 1904. in St. Louis in the United Sates of America where they were awarded gold medal. The vase with the ram head was produced standardized later and at least a dozen was found on the patio's barrister of the royal ornamental garden; nevertheless, it could have been seen from Pest in clear weather. Besides the two remaining vases the others were lost in the Second World War. Following their restoration these 'royal vases' were placed near their original spots overlooking the River Danube, in the garden of the Office of the President of the Republic of Hungary (The Sándor Palace).
After having cleaned off the corrosion layers from the fragmented pieces, I did the chasing of the deformed pieces, the devil heads, the ram heads, and I also made the vase's stay-plate even. Then I minutely supplemented the war damages and holes, and I complemented the missing fruit-, and oak-leaves ornaments. The work needed careful attention and patience and finally it lasted for months. I did not change the original membranes of the vases I rather planished the absolutely deformed membranes of the vase supports. The missing parts were solely replaced by new copper-membrane, which I managed to complete by soldering.
The supplements were done with samples taken by the already existing motives. Therefore one of the devil's-headed vases' snake-like ear and its monkey-headed ornament was missing. They all needed to be redone. After having completed the restoration of the vases they took on an imposing layer of patina, and they were conserved.
4. The making of unique metal banisters (copper, iron, wrought iron, stainless steel)
The making of a 2 x 9,5-metres length copper banister for the Museum of Fine Arts. To the procurer's liking I covered the new banisters with patina. They cut an antique dash.
5. The restoration of a 6-metres brazen angel statue found in the cupola of Deák Mausoleum in Kerepesi cemetery, and four brazen forelocks which are located in the cupola's four corners. (Restoration of ancient monument)
A 6-metres brazen statue and four brazen forelocks, each almost 2-metres, decorate the cupola of Ferenc Deák's mausoleum which was designed in the late 19th century. On the authority of the National Office of Cultural Heritage the restoration work was done in a foundry, because the missing parts needed remoulding. I supervised the professional restoration including the practical works such as weathering and conservation.
The statue was standing on the top of the cupola, on a supporting sphere. There were originally four winged, angel-headed figures on the brazen supporting sphere; two of these were missing so we had to supplement them by moulding.
The statue and its support were cleaned by wet sand-blasting, then they were conserved and weathered, thus finally they received a homogenous brownish colour. The job was quite difficult because the statue weighted more tonnes, so did the forelocks, and they needed to be moved back-and forth: first lowered from the top of the cupola, then taken to the braziery, and finally they had to be replaced.
6. The restoration of the looking-glass frames of the New York Coffee House
The New York Coffee House in Budapest was built according to Alajos Hauszmann's design in 1894. The contemporary interiors of Parisian coffee houses were richly ornamented, and the New York Coffee House in Budapest followed the same pattern. On the walls there were murals - by Gusztáv Mannheimer, and Ferenc Eisenhut - in the saloons there were huge chandeliers under which the guest might have been sitting at marble tables. I participated in the restoration of the gilded looking-glass frames found in the saloons of the New York Coffee House. These differently shaped and adorned mirrors were made of brass membranes, and their backs were stiffened by sheet-iron. The leaves, snails and other ornaments found on the mirrors were originally made of brass-moulding, too.
In the course of the restoration I had to smoothen, repair, and planish the damaged brazen frames; moreover, I had to supplement the missing mouldings by brazing. The frames were surface-treated in order to avoid oxidization, thus they can fulfil their original functions to decorate the saloons in the re-opening New York Coffee House.
7. The fountain of the Danaides, public place statue (restoration of sculpture)
The fountain of the Danaides is a brazen sculptural group that was created by Ferenc Sidló in 1933. It is standing on a one-and-a-half metres marble support in the middle of a round drinking fountain which can be found in the capital's fifth district at Szomory Dezső Square.
Great parts of the fixing iron elements had to be changed, and the cracks needed to be repaired. I cleaned the statue from impurities and corrosion. Since this drinking fountain is located in the middle of Budapest's downtown, I created a solid layer of patina to make it more lasting. The restoration of the marble fountain was done by Gábor Ludányi. The sculptural group was handed over to a professional jury consisting of members of the Budapest Gallery, the National Office of Cultural Heritage, and the Association of the Hungarian Restorers.
8. A copperplate-covered name-plate from the beginning of the 20th century, Dohány street
In the course of the renovation of an old tenement house located in Budapest's 6th district was I called upon to restore a name-plate. Just like the building the name-plate was also created at around the turn of the 20th century. The name-plate was half-timbered, embossed and was covered by brass-membrane. On the brink of the motives the brass-membrane was cracked, broken, and little pieces fell out. The brass-membrane overlay had been painted with oil-colours previously.
In the course of the restoration I removed the coat of paint, I repaired the broken parts and cracks; moreover, I supplemented the lost motives. While I was restoring this piece I was trying to save as many ornamental membranes as possible.