|Address:||Na Karmeli 9, 293 01 Mladá Boleslav|
|Description of work:||Restoration work|
|Investor:||Škoda auto, a.s. – Mladá Boleslav|
|Contractor:||GEMA ART GROUP a.s.|
History of the monument goes back to the middle of the 14th century, when a Franciscan convent was founded here. Distinguished historian of the turn of the 16th and 17th century, Bartoloměj Paprocký of Hloholy, placed the foundation of the convent at the end of 1345. There are no written records to confirm this date. During the Hussite wars the convent was overrun and devastated by the Utraquist armies.
In 1469 the town of Mladá Boleslav became the property of the Moravian family of Tovačovský of Cimburk, who gave what remained of the convent to the Protestant church of The Unity of the Brethren. Under the administration of the Unity of the Brethren at the beginning of the 16th century until 1620 the complex experienced its greatest prosperity. The name “Na Karmeli”, derived from the biblical Mount Carmel in Palestine, originates from this time. Foremost scholars of the era, such as the theologian Jan Blahoslav and the cartographer Mikuláš Klaudián, author of the first printed map of Bohemia from 1518, stayed and worked in the convent “Na Karmeli”.
After the promulgation of the so-called Renewed Land Ordinance in 1627, which permitted only Catholic religious practice, the convent complex Na Karmeli was returned to the Franciscan Order. The Baroque church and the convent itself acquired its current appearance during the rebuilding in the years between 1675 and 1775. The interior of the Church of St Bonaventure originates mostly from 1711. The two chapels located in the convent garden, which surrounded the buildings, also date back to the 18th century.
The convent was abolished during the reforms instigated by the Emperor Josef II in 1784. Its buildings became the property of the Piarist Order from the nearby town of Kosmonosy, who established a monastic elementary and high school there. The Catholic Piarist Order saw education of children as its main mission. In the years between 1889 and 1902 a house for a Catholic seminary was built adjacent to the Church of St Bonaventure. The Piarist Order stayed until 1950, when it was evicted by the Communist regime. The deconsecrated Church of St Bonaventure became a warehouse for the local housing association and was left for many years to deteriorate.
Extensive reconstruction was undertaken between 2005 and 2007 and at the same time a modern building with a glass atrium, designed by the architect Juraj Sonlajtner, was added to the complex. At present the compound of the Education Centre Na Karmeli, which was officially opened in September 2007, houses the higher education institution Škoda Auto College. Exhibitions, concerts and graduation ceremonies take place in the deconsecrated Church of St Bonaventure.
Restoration work, in which specialists under the management of the GEMA ART GROUP a.s. participated, comprised a wide variety of tasks both on the exterior and the interior of the historic Na Karmeli complex of buildings. The experts secured the fragments of 18th century wall paintings in the chapels in front of the complex and worked on most of the terrazzo, parquetry and argillite flooring. Inscribed stone tablets, the unique spiral staircase in the interior of the church, stone door casings and two Baroque portals were among the stone elements restored. As to woodwork, the wooden staircase was re-fitted, the wooden steps to the presbytery restored and replicas of wooden window frames manufactured. GEMA ART GROUP a.s. was also responsible for installation of fire resistant doors. Decorative stuccoes in both the interior and the exterior, the sgraffito ornamentation, metal parts and stained glass were all completely renovated.
Restoration of the plastering and stuccoes on the exterior of the church:
The plastering of the church’s exterior was affected by both shallow and deep cracks. Some areas were entirely degraded with the plaster having become loose from the base or missing altogether. A survey of the stuccoes on the façade of the church found the presence of secondary over-layers.
The plastering was cleaned and strengthened by a coating of fixative. Degraded parts were removed and where necessary the areas were re-plastered with materials suitable for the existing underlying surfaces. To conclude fixative was applied to all plastering
The surfaces of the sculptural ornamentation in the church were mechanically cleaned and then rid of secondary colour layers. Irretrievably damaged parts were removed and re-modelled and reshaped with new material. Cracks were cleaned out, secured and in-filled. Some areas of the stucco required highly skilled restoration by means of reshaping, retouching and application of fixative.
Restoration of the artisan metal smith items:
Many of the artisan metal-smith items found within the church and the convent premises were mechanically damaged and affected by loss of material due to advanced corrosion. Parts of some of the items were deformed or altogether missing.
After the initial survey the metal was mechanically rid of various surface modifications. Some items had to be moved to the workshop and taken apart. Missing parts were replaced and deformed areas reshaped. Before reassembly the components were given several layers of undercoat. For the final surface appearance several coatings of graphite varnish were applied, complemented in the case of some items by gilding.
Restoration of the wall painting fragments in the external chapels of the complex:
The two chapels, which date back to the 18th century, are located in the former gardens of the Piarist convent, laid out in front of the Church of St Bonaventure. In one of the chapels a fragment of the original painting, probably depicting a Holy Family motif, was preserved in the upper vaulted part of the structure. Remains of ornamentation on the vault belts were found in the upper part of the second chapel. The chapels bore marks of unprofessional masonry work, the paint was dirty and most of it had become loose.
The dirt was removed mechanically by a dry method and crumbling layers of plaster secured, in-depth sealed and smoothed using additional mortar. The cleaning of the colour layer was then completed, missing plastering replaced and any defects mended with lime stucco. To conclude colour retouching was carried out with the aim to achieve a visual unity of the painted area. The profiled stucco on the ledges and pilasters was also restored using materials with the best resistance to temperature variations.
Restoration of the stained glass:
The windows of the Church of St Bonaventure date back to the turn of the 19th and 20th century. They were originally glazed with hexagonal stained glass panels, made from clear machine pressed window glass and in places from pressed sharp-contoured ornamental glass.
The original stained glass was found in the choir loft window, in the large window in the nave of the church and in two presbytery windows. Remaining windows had been provisionally glazed with wired glass. Some glass panes were cracked and the bead in the upper parts broken. Metal frames of most of the windows were damaged by corrosion.
Repair of the existing stained glass was not indicated. Replicas were manufactured from clear cathedral glass and inserted with its coarse side facing the interior of the church in order to achieve a visual unity of all church windows. Before the stained glass was fitted into place the metal window frames were cleaned, coated and reset in the window casings in their original positions.
Restoration of plastering and stuccoes in the interior of the church:
Historically valuable Venetian plaster from the Renaissance and later Baroque era was found on the ground level of the south wing of the convent. All plaster preserved on the walls and vaulting of some of the rooms was affected by age and fluctuations in temperature: it had become loose, had in parts fallen off and lacked cohesion. The fact that the premises were left open and unheated for long periods also played a negative role.
Restoration work within the interior also included the Neo-Baroque stucco ornamentation. These decorative floral motifs from 1902 were found on the chancel arch and other parts of the vaulting. The stucco decorations had become loose and were in places cracked to the masonry level. All plaster was affected by climactic conditions, which caused blistering, pulverization and in places loss of the plastering material.
Restoration of the sgraffito decorations:
According to the date written on the convent tower, the sgraffiti originate from the year 1583. After the convent again became the property of the Franciscan Order of Friars Minor in 1627 the sgraffiti were several times coated over with lime. After the rebuilding most of the decorations were chipped away. At a later date fragments of sgraffiti were discovered on the façade of the bossage of the cloister and the convent tower.
The non-original lime coating was gently prised off and remnants removed using scalpels. The cleaned sgraffiti were conserved and treated with sealant and fixative.
Where new plaster was to be applied to the sgraffiti, especially on the north and south side of the church tower, the sgraffiti were given a restoration treatment. Conserved fragments of the inscription bearing the year 1583 were transferred to the new plaster. The fragment on the bossage in the convent attic was also restored and conserved.
Restoration of the terrazzo flooring in the Church of St Bonaventure:
The subject of the restoration work was the two-coloured terrazzo flooring from the beginning of the 20th century. The flooring was made from marble chippings 5 – 12 mm and 3 – 6 mm in size, in-filled with Portland-cinder cement and marble mosaic blocks.
The terrazzo was in poor shape, with the marble chippings mostly crumbled away to below the level of the cement filler. In places the material had been insensitively chipped away. The whole surface of the floor exhibited clearly visible cracks and fissures.
In the first phase of the restoration work the missing parts of the terrazzo were repaired using marble chippings, Portland-cinder cement and colour pigments. This was followed by in-depth mechanical cleaning. The cracks were filled in and the surface of the flooring re-ground and re-grained. To finish the flooring was treated with wax polish.
Restoration of stone elements:
Historically important stone parts have survived in the convent buildings, among them the richly profiled Renaissance door casings and the Gothic portal with a clearly visible monochrome red coating. Most of these stone elements were manufactured from fine grained Pojizerský sandstone.
Surveys revealed mechanical damage of various degrees in all preserved stone elements; the damage was caused over the years by building work and alterations, such as installation of electricity cables. Some stone elements were covered with a thick layer of lime, whitewash and in several cases even asphalt coating.
The nature of the restoration work differed depending on problems encountered in individual items. Following the initial survey the stone was cleaned mechanically by dry method, which took into account the original coatings. Where necessary the stone was steam cleaned using a pressure washer. All interventions were carried out with the aim to conserve the historically valuable polychrome found on the stonework. To conclude the restoration the stone was consolidated, any cracks in-filled and chipped fragments re-attached. Mechanical damage was repaired in a manner which ensured the stonework could serve its purpose and at the same time regain its overall aesthetic impact. Where required, the stucco plaster on the stonework was also renewed.
Restoration of the parquetry flooring in the choir loft of the church:
Flooring made from the so-called Viennese parquetry, manufactured from coniferous and oak wood, had been preserved in the choir loft of the Church of St Bonaventure. The wood had originally had a natural finish.
The parquetry squares were damaged mechanically and also affected by rot, fungus and dampness. Instances of woodworm damage were also present. The timber had on the surface and at the edges become loose and chipped, with splinters fallen off.
It was possible to salvage about half of the remaining original parquetry. The timber was given an anti woodworm and damp treatment, rid of paint coating and mended. The restored parquetry was re-fitted in a square-shaped space in the middle of the loft and surrounded by replicas of the originals.
Restoration of the argillite flooring:
The floor was made of hand cut Přibylov argillite tiles laid on lime mortar. Due to dampness and the cycle of frost and thaw the stone was considerably corroded; its surface was cracked and the grout crumbling.
The surface was mechanically dry cleaned and then consolidated with organosilicates. More extensive cracks were secured with non-corrosive pins. Missing parts were replaced by exact replicas. The edges of new inserts were shaped so as to visually blend with the original tiles. Finally the surfaces were saturated with a conservation agent.
Restoration of carpentry items:
This involved restoration of windows, doors and their panelling, all of which date back to the era between the mid 19th to mid 20th century. The material used was both deciduous and coniferous timber, with surfaces mostly stained and coated in paint.
The initial survey established that the timber of these woodcraft items was severely affected by woodworm as well as damp and rot . Mechanical damage was also observed. Metal fittings were damaged both mechanically and by corrosion and in some instances were altogether missing.
At the onset of the restoration process the items were dismantled and moved into restoration workshops. There the timber was first cleaned and its cohesion strengthened. Where needed repairs were made using inserts of identical material. The parts were impregnated with insecticides and fungicides, consolidated and colour harmonized. Where required this was followed by coating with transparent varnish.
Metal fittings were restored and repaired, then coated in clear varnish or metal paint. Missing parts were replaced with replicas.