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Subject: A death

A death

From: Hans-Christoph von Imhoff <xoph.von.imhoff>
Date: Thursday, February 23, 2006
Emil Bosshard

Emil Bosshard died on 9 February 2005 after two years of fighting
his aggressive illness, leaving his wife Veronika and their two
children, Titus (27) and Miriam (23).

Emil Bosshard was born on 30 August 1945 in Zurich and grew up,
together with his older sister in close-by Altstetten in a peaceful
environment. He didn't enjoy school very much; at the age of
seventeen he went on to become an apprentice as colour retoucher in
the renown Zurich publishing house Conzett, Editor of DU, the then
most renown art magazine in Switzerland. As of 1968 he trained as a
paintings conservator for three years with Thomas Brachert, then
Chief Art Technological Research at the Swiss Institute for Art
Research (SIK) in Zurich. There Emil met Veronika van der Bruggen, a
fellow student, later to become his wife, whilst specialising in
paper conservation. In 1971 they went to Holland where he took up an
internship at the Central Research Laboratory in Amsterdam in the
Netherlands, then he changed to become Deputy Restorer at the
Rijksmuseum. From that period stemmed his regard for and
understanding of Dutch and Flemish painting, as well as his personal
and professional friendship with Ernst van de Wetering, director of
the Rembrandt Research Project (RRP)in Amsterdam.

In 1973 the Bosshards followed Nathan Stolow's, then the first
director of the Canadian Conservation Institute CCI, call to come to
Canada, to help put in place the Canadian Governments new museum
policy from 1970, as did others including the undersigned. Emil,
hired as conservator of paintings, whose superior was the late Ursus
Dix contributed to CCI's survey of the conservation needs of
Canada's museums and did conservation and restoration work on North
American paintings, before returning to the SIK in Zurich in 1975 to
become the successor of Thomas Brachert, his former teacher. In this
period their two children were born, their son Titus and three years
later their daughter Miriam.

Among the numerous research projects at the SIK was his systematic
investigation of the underdrawing in Niklaus Manuel's paintings
using infrared reflectography. In 1982, upon invitation from Gerald
Hoepfner, Emil went to the Williamstown Art conservation Laboratory,
Mass., where he enjoyed a three month as a guest conservator,
working hands-on, lecturing and holding seminars.

1985 he left the SIK to take up the position of chief conservator at
the splendid Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection in Lugano, capital of the
Italian speaking part of Switzerland, the Ticino, at the Villa
Favorita. As of then Emil was on the road and in the air a lot, for
the collection, for exhibitions of the collection and external
exhibitions at the Villa Favorita. All the same, he managed to
lecture and teach, in Switzerland and other European countries and
in North America, at the Getty; in Mobile, Alabama and elsewhere, he
also served as an expert. At times he acted as a UNESCO consultant.
It was left to him to direct the move of the Thyssen-Bornemisza
collection to Spain into its new home via-a-vis the Prado in Madrid.

In his years with the collection, he was active conserving
paintings, but also providing data and art-technical information for
the series of the Thyssen-Bornemisza collection's very extensive
collection catalog-raisonnes--in four volumes his collaboration is
mentioned, but no contribution is signed; in five others
unfortunately he is not even mentioned.

Emil was concerned to publish his work not only in professional
conservation journals, but also in those of art historians and of
other art-related professions or for an eager and learned public, to
explain to them what his profession and what conservation is about.
He warned early on that conservator-restorers should get out of the
ivory tower and talk to and write for the public and include the
public into their work, otherwise conservation may run into the
wall; wise he was.

I am aware of sixteen signed publications of Emil: seven appeared in
Restauro (including in the forerunner Maltechnik-Restauro), others
in renown newspapers, conference preprints, and also in Apollo. His
lectures and conferences given in many countries addressed art and
scientists' associations, curators and historians; he always was on
the go to inform the larger audiences, the art "consumers",
collectors and students. The importance of this concern for him
became particularly evident after he had left the Thyssen-Bornemisza
collection to become private conservator in 1985.

The Bosshards moved again, from the warm southern Swiss province, up
north to the Swiss town of Bischofszell in the Kanton Thurgau, his
wife's hometown, into her parent's house, where they finally built
their own studio. He soon was asked to become member of the board of
the Thurgauische Kunstgesellschaft, the regional art society and was
delighted to contribute to this important institution and thus to
the public. It was this institutions' president, Dr. Banninger, who
read the funeral oration, a splendid and precise characterisation of
Emil, which moved greatly the rather large morning audience, talking
about Emil's openness and concern for others.

One can not honour Emil Bosshard's memory without referring to his
splendid free copies in oil he had done of paintings for his own
pleasure, a gifted painter to say the least and a master in creating
light in a painting. He was an musical amateur, who had played the
flute in a youth orchestra in Zurich, but he also was what in the
1970s was called a Jazzfan, a term that has nearly disappeared from
use. An ardent amateur--he showed up at places where there was Jazz
live to listen to, he knew musicians, particularly well the South
African, Zurich based pianist Dollar Brand, who changed name to
become Abdhoulla Ibrahim. And, he dearly enjoyed flying, in a glider
or motorized.

I'll much miss Emil's slightly ironic observing look, his retained
and somewhat satiric smile and his bursting laughter, his story
telling, his way to make one understand he wanted to change subject
if things didn't interest him. He was cool.

Hans-Christoph von Imhoff
Strada Principale 30
CH-7603 Vicosoprano
+41 81 834 0284
Fax: +41 81 834 0285

                  Conservation DistList Instance 19:39
                Distributed: Thursday, February 23, 2006
                       Message Id: cdl-19-39-001
Received on Thursday, 23 February, 2006

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