Damaged Pictures - Pictures of Damage
Restoration of the portrait collection of the Francke Foundations
Today people have modern photography at their disposal in order to capture the appearance of individuals for future generations. In the past only very few people had the opportunity to commission their portraits applying complex artistic methods. It was only with the invention of the copper-plate at the beginning of the sixteenth century that print sheets portraying well-known people became popular. This was facilitated by means of the replication of identical pictures in large quantities. At present these prints are often the only evidence of a person’s appearance and have become highly popular amongst avid collectors.
The Bötticher Portrait Collection
Jakob Gottfried Bötticher (1692-1762), inspector of the bookshop of the Halle Orphanage, was an exceptionally dedicated collector. In 1756 he donated his collection of c.13,000 portraits to the Orphanage Library. A review of the collection conveys the impression of being a kind of “Who’s who” of the early modern period: portraits of emperors, illustrations of the Prussian kings or of the tsars can be found along with portraits of eminent scholars from between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries including Martin Luther, Philipp Melanchthon or August Hermann Francke. The physician Paracelus, as well as the lawyers Hugo Grotius, Samuel von Pufendorf and Samuel Stryk are also portrayed. One particular aspect of the Bötticher collection distinguishes it from other comparable collections, providing it with an unmistakable attraction: Bötticher glued most of the portraits onto sheets and below the portraits wrote verses, often in extravagant calligraphics. The verses briefly characterise the individual portrayed. This gives the present-day observer an impression of the way in which these people were seen and regarded during the eighteenth century.
Damaged Pictures – Pictures of Damage
The Bötticher portrait collection is in danger. Numerous sheets display traces of dirt and use, torn and creased edges, holes and fluting. Particularly the ink corrosion, attacking Bötticher's lovingly composed verses, has been so dramatic that the writing is hardly legible and must be restored. The normal budget of the Foundations can not cover the costs required to save the collection. Therefore the Library has initiated the programme “Damaged pictures – Pictures of damage”.
How can you help?
Help us by providing a donation in order to preserve the collection so that future generations can acquire an impression of the way in which people living between the 16th and 18th centuries looked! As little as € 25 can save a portrait! Upon request you can make a donation towards a specific portrait you can select from the database.
Freundeskreis der Franckeschen Stiftungen e.V.
IBAN: DE92 8005 3762 1894 0141 77
Thank you for your help!
As a token of our appreciation and gratitude for donations over € 100, you will be sent a book on the portrait collection, together with a personal thank you note from the Director of the Francke Foundations. For donations over € 400 you will receive a copy of a print from a copper plate dating from around 1700. The names of donators will appear on the Library homepage – if they prefer.