Polychrome Wooden Sculpture

The wooden chapel of St. Martin in Stari Brod is a rare example of a traditional folk Baroque architecture with a completely preserved painted interior. Throughout the centuries, it had an important role in the everyday life of local villagers, not only as a gathering place for celebrating Mass, but also as an important symbol of centuries of survival despite wars and floods. In spite of the extremely dilapidated and ruinous state and the evacuation of its inventory, it remained opened until 2007, when construction started. The chapel was reopened and re-consecrated in 2015, after conservation and restoration was finished and all its traditional and historic characteristics preserved.


Croatian Conservation Institute launched in 2010 a comprehensive programme of completing the renovation of the Gothic choir stalls from the Cathedral of St. Anastasia in Zadar. Richly decorated, originally painted in vivid colours and gilded, the stalls have throughout history been subject to numerous restorations and alterations according to the tastes of the time. The last treatment was initiated in 1969, at the then Conservation Institute of Croatia, but due to the lack of funding it was suspended as early as 1972, and the semi-restored parts were stored in a depot. The article brings results of the recent conservation research which provided information about the original appearance of the choir stalls, a review of previous treatments and a description of the works performed at the Croatian Conservation Institute in the last three years.


The long, complex conservation treatment of the Romanesque painted crucifix from the convent of St. Clare in Split revealed traces of a number of prior interventions, testifying to a continuous awareness of the value of this work of art and the centuries-long care over its preservation. On this occasion, most of the previous coats of overpaint have been removed, the damage to the wooden support has been repaired, and the crucifix has been treated with gamma irradiation to provide it with permanent protection from biological degradation.


The luxuriously adorned and gilded tabernacle from the Church of St. Spirit in Split was subjected to conservation and restoration treatments, due to its poor state, caused by wood degradation and instability of the structural elements and the gilt layer. Works comprised the removal of hardened dirt and subsequently applied overpaints, a consolidation of the loosened and a replacement of the missing parts and the gilding.


The Church of Our Lady of the Annunciation is home to a rare example of Rococo woodwork in Dalmatia. A tabernacle in which the host is kept, decorated with sculptural details and coated in a layer of water gilt, is a work of an unknown 18th-century master. Inappropriate keeping conditions in a hidden niche of the Hvar church have left their mark on the artwork. An overall conservation and restoration treatment was therefore performed at an Institute’s workshop, aimed at removing the cause of deterioration, consolidating structural elements and restoring the original appearance to the damaged piece of art.


The altar of St. Aurelius from Brseč is a compelling example of a high-quality Baroque 17th-century woodcarving in the region of Istria and Kvarner. The altar has been admired and studied by numerous experts for decades. The conservation and restoration work undertaken between 1990 and 2010 undoubtedly represents a significant contribution to determining its cultural, historical and artistic value.

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