Aula Leopoldinum. Another works completed
Each subsequent conservation season in Aula Leopoldinum is different, it presents the teams with new challenges and allows learning more about our baroque “synthesis of arts”, the work of Peter Handke from Ołomuniec, as well as subsequent restoration works carried out: in 1788, 1908-1911, in 1926, 1948-1958, and 1974-1976.
This year, four tasks are being carried out in Aula: conservation of eight student benches, complex conservation of all professors’ benches, along with platforms and portraits of people who merited Leopoldina, baroque wood-carved frames and walls that said portraits were placed on, conservation of podium and benches under the balcony, conservation of five paintings under the balcony along with moulding decoration surrounding them, and also panegyric inscription under the bust of the Count Anton Schaffgotsch.
Currently, the work under the balcony has been completed and this is where the most interesting challenges came up. Contrary to the paintings in the western part and the ceiling above the balcony, preserved in the previous years, the damage was relatively small, although the entire surface was heavily re-painted. It was a real surprise to find under the secondary layers a well-preserved original, along with a readable preparatory drawing.
The theme of the paintings under the balcony is an angelic orchestra, and in each part of the painting, the angels play timpani and fanfare (from the north, closer to the auditorium), violin and harp, in the largest, middle area – cornett, violone, dulcian (an instrument resembling psalterium), and a lute. This image is complemented by an angel holding a note sheet and another one, singing and conducting with a rolled-up note sheet. The paintings on the southern side show two angels playing on hunting horns, and an alto and a recorder closer to the entrance.
The oldest image sources of this part of the Aula are Rudolf Jagusch’s colourful photos from 1944. Unfortunately, there was no diapositive showing the second stage located on the northern side, and the three photos of the middle stage do not cover the centre of the composition. It should also be remembered that Jagusch’s diapositives do not show the originals, but the state after the conservation of Joseph Langer from 1908-1912, and subsequent one carried out in 1926 by a man only known by his name – Fey.
The repair of damages after the war was carried out from 1948 and consisted of fixing the detached fragments, filling in larger holes, and applying putty – these works were carried out by a team supervised by Bohdan Marconi. From 1949 to 1958, the renovation works were carried out by Antoni Michalak, who was primarily a religious painter, landscapist, and portraitist, although during the post-war period he carried out conservation works of many monuments of Wrocław. According to his statements, he was convinced that he was dealing with a completely original work, without any re-paintings, and he considered the layers in the painting as a result of the specific technique in which it was created. As a result, he focused on surface cleaning and merging of all the layers, and then he reconstructed damaged areas by using the glueing technique without reaching the primary paint layer. A similar thing was done in 1974-1976.
During the works carried out from June to mid-October by a Cracovian company Roland Róg Art Service Konserwacja i Restauracja Dzieł Sztuki, a well preserved original, along with readable preparatory drawing was discovered. Areas that were completely damaged were reconstructed based on photographs from 1944, comparison with other works of Handke, and also knowledge on the baroque instrumentation.
The works were financed from a grant by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage awarded to the University of Wrocław Foundation in the amount of PLN 188 687.
dr Łukasz Krzywka, Rector’s Representative for Conservation of Monuments
Translated by Inga Schulz (student of English Studies at the University of Wrocław) as part of the translation practice.