Matejko’s angels saved
Preservation teams have finished their work on Jan Matejko’s paintings in St. Mary’s Church on Krakow’s marketplace. The polychrome was in danger of vanishing over the next couple of years.
The paintings in the Gothic church were designed in 1889 by Matejko, best known for his monumental works depicting glorious moments from Poland’s history. These frescoes were painted on the walls of the basilica alongside the works of Stanislaw Wyspianski, Jozef Mehoffer and Wlodzimierz Tetmajer, who recognized as notable artists.
The speed with which they were created as well as lack of experience in the creation of frescos are largely responsible for the volatility of the pieces. The works were first restored in 1929, only 40 years after their conception. The restoration team guided by professor Jozef Nykiel started its work in 1993, tirelessly cleaning the paintings and renewing the depth of their color layers.
The frescoes are again in good condition and can be observed by visitors. The Matejko paintings, depicting angels, devils, crests and floral motives, do not fully harmonize with other paintings in the gothic church; however, it was the preservationists’ decision to restore them rather than the older paintings they cover.