Croatian Conservation Institute​

Croatian Conservation Institute​

Mljet Island, Shallows of St. Paul, Shipwreck with Iznik Pottery Cargo

In the European Year of Cultural Heritage results of the finished phase of archaeological research of shipwreck with Iznik pottery cargo from the Shallows of St. Paul will be presented.
Supervisor: Igor Miholjek

Mljet Island, with its natural and cultural characteristics, is an unusually interesting area that was a part of maritime routes connecting major Occidental and Oriental ports. Several well-protected bays on the north side of the island offer excellent protection for all seeking shelter from bad weather. Those who were unable to find safety can today be found in the sea around Mljet. Such example is the early modern shipwreck dated to the 16th century, discovered on the south side of the island, on the Shallows of St. Paul.

The shipwreck was discovered in 2006. Archaeological excavations began in 2007 and are still ongoing, led by Croatian Conservation Institute’s archaeologists. Due to the complexity of research, dimensions and depth of the site, and variety of finds, scientists working at the University of Ca’ Foscari in Venice joined the expert team. Ship's characteristics, as well as marks on the cannons indicate a Venetian origin, while its cargo distinguishes it from all other shipwrecks found in the Adriatic. It was carrying Ottoman ceramics produced in Iznik from the 15th until the 17th century. Each sultan had a master potter in charge of the pottery workshops, designing specific ornaments with patterns from the Quran, and animal and floral motifs. The great expansion of Iznik pottery occurred during the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent.
Previous theory postulated that styles of Iznik pottery changed with each new sultan. However, based on the confirmed five developmental stages of Iznik pottery, current theory assumes that individual ornamental style remained in use for as long as there was interest. Consumers of this ceramics were mostly affluent Europeans in need of "exotic" Oriental goods. Today, only three thousand items of Iznik pottery are held in museums and private collections around the world.
Results of research of this shipwreck, unique in the Mediterranean, were published in the book Sveti Pavao Shipwreck (Oxford, 2014) and at the exhibition Iznik – Ottoman Pottery from the Depths of the Adriatic held in 2015 at the Mimara Museum in Zagreb, and in 2016 at the Dubrovnik Museums in Dubrovnik.
The importance of these finds was recognised throughout Europe and Iznik pottery from the Shallows of St. Paul was exhibited in Paris, Marseille, and Trieste.
Pula, Viribus Unitis Shipwreck

During the European Year of Cultural Heritage, coinciding with centennial anniversary of Viribus Unitis’ sinking, an exhibition will be organized in collaboration with the Historical and Maritime Museum of Istria. Original material, photographs and videos from the research will be exhibited, as well as some material from the shipwreck Szent Istvan, a ship of the same class. The exhibition will be accompanied by a ceremonial dive followed by a wreath-laying ceremony honouring the victims of the shipwreck. Added values of the exhibition are links to other naval heritage in Pula, such as the Memorial Naval Cemetery, aimed at expanding cultural and tourist options.
Supervisor: Krunoslav Zubčić

In the bay of Pula, at the very end of the First World War, Viribus Unitis, one of the largest ships in the Austro-Hungarian fleet, had been sunk. After the surrender of Austro-Hungarian navy and the ceremonial lowering of the flag aboard the Viribus Unitis, the fleet transferred to the National Council of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs. However, in a commando action by the Italians, the ship was sunk in a day, causing the death of hundreds of sailors and the first Croatian Rear Admiral Janko Vuković Podkapelski.

Because poor visibility in the bay impedes underwater works, current research (by Croatian Conservation Institute) is focused on geophysical methods (side scan and multi-beam sonar). Smaller remains of the shipwreck and the imprint of the ship's hull in the seabed have been confirmed. Specific positions were chosen for diving exploration, and, during its course, some material from the shipwreck, as well as certain personal possessions of the ship's crew, were surfaced. In continuation of research, plans have been made to further document the remains and continue with probe research.
The anniversary of the end of the first global conflict is incitement to explore important aspects of Croatian historical and cultural heritage, inextricably linked with heritage of countries of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire, as well as Italy. Researching shipwrecks contributes to the understanding of the fate and role of Croatian sailors, as well as sailors of other nationalities within the imperial fleet, as a clear indicator of Croatia’s connections to Central European cultural and historical heritage.
Rijeka, Croatian National Theatre Ivan Zajc, Paintings by Gustav and Ernst Klimt, and Franz Matsch

As the proud holder of the European Capital of Culture title for 2020, the City of Rijeka began with preparation of a series of projects aimed at cultural and overall advancement of the city. One of the projects is an exhibition by the Rijeka City Museum that will include the presentation of paintings by brothers Klimt and F. Matsch from the Croatian National Theatre in Rijeka. To ensure that the paintings are exhibited in optimal condition, Croatian Conservation Institute will dismount them and begin with conservation research. By 2020 complete conservation will be finished. The research will include visible, IR and UV spectrum imaging, as well as oblique light and X-ray imaging, and, if necessary, laboratory analyses of pigments and binders. Symbolically, the start of conservation will be in 2018, the European Year of Cultural Heritage, and on the centennial anniversary of death of Gustav Klimt. By 2020, Croatian Conservation Institute will collect numerous new findings that will enrich the history of Rijeka, European Capital of Culture.
Supervisors: Ana Rušin Bulić & Slobodan Radić

Gustav Klimt was one the most famous artists in the world. His professional and private life was thoroughly researched and described. However, the Croatian National Theatre Ivan Zajc in Rijeka holds an almost forgotten, modestly explored, but important part of Klimt’s oeuvre – its beginning. After completing his education at the Viennese School of Arts and Crafts in 1883, he formed, together with his two-year younger brother Ernst and an older friend Franz Matsch, an artist association Die Künstler – Compagnie. Immediately after the start of their collaboration with the architectural firm Fellner und Hellmer, specialised in constructing theatre buildings, they accepted the commission to create canvas paintings for the auditorium of the theatre in Rijeka. The paintings were painted in Vienna and, after a short exhibition in the Art History Museum, were transported and installed in Rijeka. Neue Freie Presse newspaper received the paintings very positively and wished “that the three esteemed artists should soon be commissioned to execute similar work in Vienna”. The largest painting, Theatre by Ernst Klimt, is positioned above the proscenium, while The Angles, attributed to Gustav Klimt, are located above the proscenium balconies. Above the auditorium, six medallions are arranged around a luxurious chandelier: Instrumental Music, Serious Opera and Poetry by Gustav Klimt, and Love Poetry, Dance and Comedy Opera by Franz Matsch.
Split, Cathedral, Monumental Gates by Andrija Buvina

An international scientific conference and a multimedia exhibition will be organized during the European Year of Cultural Heritage. Both manifestations are planned to present the conservation works and the results of four years of interdisciplinary research of the Buvina’s gates.
Supervisor: Žana Matulić Bilač

Monumental carved, wooden and previously luxuriously painted gates of the Split cathedral, according to the document from 1214, were created by pictor de Spaleto Andrija Buvina. They are one of the most important and most intriguing works of medieval Croatian and European art. However, until now they have not been subjected to scientific and technical inquiry. For more than 800 years they stood in their original position, where they were musealised in 1908, after restoration supervised by the Central Commission in Vienna. In situ conservation was done by Croatian Conservation Institute from 2014 to 2018.

The primary focus of contemporary research, apart from the gates themselves, are also its original parts that were removed and replaced by replicas in 1908, currently stored in the Archaeological Museum Split and the Split City Museum. The original parts proved to be a treasure trove of medieval sculptural and painting materials, as well as a dictionary of tools used in the gates' creation. This part of research gathered numerous Croatian and international experts of various specialities, which helped to strengthen various links proving that this ancient work of art is deeply rooted in Split's rich history of art and is a part of its spatial and historical identity whose mark can be followed along the entire coast of medieval Dalmatia. Additionally, when compared to similar artworks, such as the famous gates from Cologne and gates of the Church of St. Sabina in Rome, a series of technical and iconographic parallels can be observed, confirming that the masterpiece by Andrija Buvina occupies the same cultural circle of medieval and modern Europe.
Split, Diocletian’s Palace, Western gate
During the European Year of Cultural Heritage, results of the completed phase of conservation of the western gate and Church of Our Lady of the Bell Tower will be presented.
Supervisor: Vinka Marinković, PhD

Diocletian’s Palace in Split is one of the most significant monuments from Late Antiquity in the world. Contributing to this fact is the historical context of its construction, state of preservation, and research. Western gate of the Diocletian’s Palace, or the Iron Gate as they are called in popular jargon, is one of the main entrances to the Palace. Today, the architectural complex of the western gate includes the original Roman layer and the medieval Church of Our Lady of the Bell Tower, incorporated in the Roman guard corridor.

From 2013, Croatian Conservation Institute has been conducting research, documentation, and conservation interventions on the western gate and the Church of Our Lady of the Bell Tower. So far, architectural scanning and documentation of the entire complex, replacing the roof on the Church of Our Lady of the Bell Tower, preventive interventions on the medieval wall painting on the exterior façade of the church, and cleaning, partial reconstruction and presentation of the medieval niche on the north wall of the propugnaculum have been completed. During 2018, work began in the interior of the church of Our Lady of the Bell Tower and newly-discovered medieval sculptures were placed in the niche on the north wall of the propugnaculum. The goal of these interventions is to improve the condition of an extremely high-frequency area of the old town by conducting minimal, controlled actions resulting in the revitalisation of the entire western gate complex. Current research and conservation have produced a lot of new information and furthered the knowledge on the historical development of this complex.
Conservation of the western gate continues, and the restoration of the sacristy roof is being prepared under the patronage of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary parish and company Interspar.

Ston, Church of St. Michael

The results of completed comprehensive conservation of the church of St. Michael in Ston will be presented in the European Year of Cultural Heritage.
Supervisors: Borka Milković & Veronika Šulić

Church of St. Michael is located on Gradac hill overlooking Ston, in a place where once stood a prehistoric hill fort and ancient Stagnum, which existed throughout Late Antiquity and early middle ages, when the church was built.
Beside characteristic features of medieval regional architecture, the interior of the church preserved wall paintings with an important depiction of a ruler-benefactor holding a model of the church dated to the 11th century. These frescoes are amongst the most important examples of Romanesque wall painting in Croatia.

Conservation and building and structural remediation of the church were intended to reduce possible danger of degradation of wall paintings caused by materials incompatible with original formulas, used on numerous occasions during previous interventions. Before selecting appropriate conservation methods, it was necessary to carry out comprehensive research of original materials, archival documents, and materials used in previous renovations. Some of the applied procedures were a novel approach to this problem in Croatian conservation practice and beyond: the church was treated as a sculpture in the process of desalination using water sprays in precise time intervals.
Sotin, Church of St. Mary Help of Christians, Main Altar

In the European Year of Cultural Heritage completed comprehensive conservation of the main altar from the Sotin Church of St. Mary Help of Christians will be presented.
Supervisors: Krešimir Valentak & Josip Demo & Danuta Misiuda

The altar of the Blessed Virgin Mary Help of Christians, located in the sanctuary of the church dedicated to the same patron in Sotin, is a valuable Late Baroque retable and one of the few stucco marble altars in Croatia.
Historical data about the construction of the church and the altar are listed in a book by Sotin pastor Ferdo Gerstner, Povijesne bilješke Sotina (Historical notes about Sotin), published at the beginning of the 20th century. F. Gerstner states that, because of numerous pilgrimages, the smaller old parish church was demolished and a new one was built between 1760 and 1768. According to F. Gerstner, the main altar was constructed in 1768 by three master plasterers. Unfortunately, he didn’t mention their names or the origin of workshop.

The altar of the Blessed Virgin Mary Help of Christians is a single-tiered retable with an attic. Rising above the side pedestals and the altar stone is a predella with consoles that carry columns and serve as pedestals for sculptures of St. Joachim and St. Anne. The central focus of the retable is the oil-on-canvas painting of the Blessed Virgin Mary, one of several similar copies after a template by German painter Lucas Cranach.
Sotin altar is constructed by using a specific technique of mixing plaster with various pigments, marble flour, and animal glue to imitate different kinds of polished marble. This demanding technique was particularly popular and appreciated during the Baroque period, mostly in Central Europe.
In 1991, during the war in Croatia, parish church in Sotin was severely damaged. The altar was mechanically damaged in several places, wooden construction was desiccated or burnt, layer of rough supporting plaster was detached from the wooden construction, and the layer of stucco marble was cracked, mechanically damaged or completely gone. Statues of St. Joachim and St. Anne were missing, while only several fragments remained of the angel sculptures.
Conservation (by Croatian Conservation Institute) comprised of rebuilding the missing wooden construction, laying of the supporting plaster, replacing various stucco marble layers on all elements of altar architecture, and creating copies of missing statues.
Šibenik, Cathedral of St. Jacob

Completed phases of conservation in the interior of the St. Jacob’s Cathedral, as well as the finished conservation of stone sculpture Annunciation, wooden sculpture of St. Peter, and the painting of Our Lady of Tears will be presented during the European Year of Cultural Heritage.
Supervisors: Ana Škevin Mikulandra & Mate Roščić & Branko Pavazza

Cathedral of St. Jacob in Šibenik is one of the most important architectural achievements of the 15th and the 16th century in Croatia, registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

At the beginning of September 2012, Croatian Conservation Institute’s interdisciplinary team began research, conservation and documentation of stone sculptures in the presbytery and the main apse of Šibenik cathedral. In the following years, conservation was extended to the interior stone surface of the cathedral, with parallel interventions on cathedral’s inventory.
Perennial comprehensive conservation is supported by the local community and conducted in cooperation with the Conservation Department in Šibenik, Expert Advisory Committee for the Renovation of St. Jacob’s Cathedral in Šibenik (appointed by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Croatia), and the Diocese of Šibenik.
Zadar, Polyptych of St. Martin by V. Carpaccio from the Cathedral of St. Anastasia & marking the 60th anniversary of the Zadar Department for Conservation, Croatian Conservation Institute

Exhibition covering the research and conservation of the polyptych of St. Martin by V. Carpaccio from Zadar cathedral, as well as the 60th anniversary of the Zadar Department for Conservation of the Croatian Conservation Institute, will be organized during the European Year of Cultural Heritage.
Supervisor: Jadranka Baković

Exhibition of the polyptych of St. Martin, a masterpiece commissioned by Zadar canon Martin Mladošić, is a continuation of a series of presentations that started after the completion of research and conservation at the Zadar Department for Conservation of the Croatian Conservation Institute. Because of the exceptional quality of research and conservation of the polyptych of St. Martin by Vittore Carpaccio from Zadar cathedral, in September 2017 Croatian Conservation Institute nominated the project for the prestigious EU Prize for Cultural Heritage/Europa Nostra Award in the Research category.

The exhibition will also cover six decades of work of the Zadar Department for Conservation of the Croatian Conservation Institute and present current conservation projects on easel paintings, polychrome wooden sculptures and metal objects.
Zagreb, Archbishop’s Palace, Gianfrancesco da Tolmezzo (?), The Crucifixion with Saints (c. 1505)

During the European Year of Cultural Heritage results of research of the history of the painting and its technical characteristics, as well as complex conservation carried out at the Croatian Conservation Institute will be presented. New knowledge will compliment findings on the original materials and characteristics of the painting, its public reception, and scantily outlined history of restoration in Croatia.
Supervisors: Pavao Lerotić & Višnja Bralić, PhD

Preserved in the painting heritage of northern Croatia is only a small number of works from once a rich corpus dated between 1450 and 1600. A special place belongs to the altar painting depicting the crucified Christ with saints commissioned by Bishop Luka de Szeged at the beginning of the 16th century for the cathedral in Zagreb. It was intended for the newly built altar of St. Cross, set in a prominent place in the central part of the cathedral, behind the bishop’s tomb. The tempera and oil on wood altarpiece stands out for the artistic quality of its master, close in style to the Central European painting around year 1500, as well as for its specific secular and ecclesiastical iconography in the depiction of the crucifixion. Holy women and St. John the Evangelist, the usual attendants of Jesus, are joined by the holy kings of Hungary, Stephen and Ladislaus, and by Stephen’s son, the holy prince Emeric, whose worship was encouraged in countries under the Crown of St. Stephen.

Despite the extraordinary importance of Bishop Luka’s altarpiece in the inventory of Zagreb cathedral, its tumultuous history had a significant effect on its state of preservation. Numerous mechanical damage and fractures of its wooden support are the result of fire in the cathedral, as well as the loss of the painting’s original function and frequent relocations. The altar was replaced by a new one in the 18th century and the painting was moved to the sacristy of the cathedral, then to the chapel of the Archbishop’s Palace, and eventually to the Blessed Alojzije Stepinac Museum on Kaptol. Several restorations of the “severely damaged painting” have been recorded from the first half of the 19th century, while documented restoration efforts can be traced from the beginning of the 20th century.