By Catherine Hickley. From theartnewspaper.com. Posted on 5/11/18.
A pre-Second World War colour photograph shows that it was originally painted in blues and gold; in another old photo, it is displayed in an ornate wooden Renaissance frame. The cherubs’ faces in both pictures are fuller than they are now, and Hofmann speculates that their cheeks may have been filled out with stucco. But neither the stucco, nor the paint or frame, could withstand temperatures as high as 1,000°C.
Madonna with Cherubim was among thousands of works damaged in two disastrous fires, in May 1945, in a flak tower in Friedrichshain in the east of Berlin, where some of the city’s art collections had been stored during the war. More than 430 paintings were destroyed, including masterpieces by Botticelli, Caravaggio and Rubens. Sculptures exploded, marble crumbled to gypsum, and ceramics, tapestries and ivory, gold and ivory artefacts were lost forever.