In recent years we have become witnesses to and as restorers
also participants in complex restoration work in several
important churches in Prague: St. Clement's, St. John
of Nepomuk-on-the-Rock, St. Ursula's.
The restorer is the first who, by investigating the condition,
finds the original polychromy. The fate and general result
of measures of restoration rest with his moral maturity,
personal responsibility and professional expertise. The
restorer conveys the result of his work to the art historian
responsible for works of art, with whom he collaborates
in determining the conception of the future measures to
be taken. »No persons responsible for works of art and
ancient monuments should lose working contact with the
restorers«, said Dr. M. Suchomel in his work on the Saving
of Stone Sculptures, (Praha 1988, p. 31). The resulting
method and collaboration is entirely logical. It is, therefore,
surprising that, in recent years, a further influence
came into being on stipulating the conception of restoration.
The view of the investor. The view that is represented
by the demand that the patina of age should be removed.
The view that shows preference for measures of reconstruction,
renewal and not the survival of the original, in however
fragmentary a state it may be found. There is no
excuse for such a view, nor for the statement that
it will get dusty in any case and then again look old.
The question I keep asking today and was asking while
engaged on the restoration of the above-mentioned interiors
is: does the layman's approach of the investor have the
right to influence the contemporary Czech School of Restoration?
I am convinced that this is not the case. It is up to
us restorers and persons working in the field of the care
for ancient monuments and works of art to use our expert
knowledge in this sphere to be given priority and the
duty to stipulate the methods of restoration and the general
I am convinced that this is not the case.
It is up to us restorers and persons working in the field
of the care for ancient monuments and works of art to
use our expert knowledge in this sphere to be given priority
and the duty to stipulate the methods of restoration and
the general conception.
We are concerned with interiors where valuable sculptural
work has survived. I cannot agree with the view that it
is necessary to revive original Baroque polychromy created
of »polished white« by giving it a new coat of white
poli ment. Why hide that magic and irreplaceably attractive
cracking of the chalk layer? That typical and characteristic
yellowing? We need to realise that we cannot fill in that
cracked layer coloured by age with an insensitive coat
of white poliment and the consequent even polish. If the
chalk layer aged by cracking and colouring, why give it
a hard polish corresponding to the period when the
polychromy arose? Here, too, it is my opinion that the
polychromists did not polish the chalk surface evenly,
but used patches of shiny and matte to stress the expressive
Let us try to make use of the surviving fragments of polychromy
on the statues and furnishings and add only sensitive
linking and initiative retouching, including gilding the
surface in such a manner that the recent measures
form a harmonious unity with the surviving fragments
of the work of art when it is viewed. I would, therefore,
like to request those colleagues present that we, as restorers,
should set out jointly along the path of modern, contemporary
restoration as proposed by Professor Slánský. Restoring
to such a state as has gained us respect in the world.
Let us not succumb to the influence of inexpert demands
by investors. Let us not carry out renewal that devalues
the work of art, but let us restore it.
Petr Kuthan (T. G.)