During the European Year of Cultural Heritage, completed conservation and restoration of the high altar of St. John the Baptist from the Church of St. John the Baptist in Varaždin will be presented on Friday, 7th December 2018 at the Church of St. John the Baptist in Varaždin (Franjevački trg 8).
Supervisor: Tomislav Sikinger
The altar of St. John the Baptist, along with the pulpit, is the oldest preserved element of furnishings of a Franciscan church in Varaždin. The work of Maribor masters, it was based on the design of K. Zettel, a Franciscan monk from Bavaria, transported to Varaždin and built in the shrine between 1699 and 1702. The sculptures are attributed to F.K. Reiss, a sculptor from Maribor. The paintings of Franciscans in lateral niches of the central zone, as well as two oval paintings in the attic, were painted in 1701 by I.G.L. Zirky. It was not until 1715 that the Zagreb painter J. Shidt painted the altar a walnut color and gilded the sculptures and decorative elements. The original altar painting was not preserved and the altar was thoroughly renovated in 1908. The work was conducted by J. Zorati, a gilder from Maribor, who also painted the entire altar.
Because of the unfavorable microclimatic conditions (high humidity, direct sunlight and pest activity), there was major damage to the lower parts of the altar’s structure damaging the statics. Conservation and restoration began with fumigation and repairing the statics. Research and extensive conservation and restoration documentation followed. During the conservation and restoration carried out at the Croatian Conservation Institute, the overpaint was removed from the altar and the original layer of black wax polishing was presented. Due to the size of the altar and technologically demanding process of restoration, the work was carried out both in the church and in conservation workshops.
The distinctiveness of the project is reflected in the fact that due to the size of the altar, the complexity and the condition of the retable architecture, the work included private restorers with whom very good co-operation and co-ordination was achieved, significantly shortening the deadlines for the restoration of the altar.