|Address:||Mariánské sq. 190/5, 110 00 Prague 1|
|Description of work:||Restoration work|
|Investor:||Subterra a.s. and UNISTAV CONSTRUCTION a.s.|
|Contractor:||GEMA ART GROUP a.s.|
Archaeological research carried out in May 2010 confirmed the existence of a medieval urban settlement on the site of today’s Clementinum. The name derives from the original Chapel of St Clement and the adjacent Dominican monastery, which stood here from the first half of the13th century. The monastery was destroyed in 1420 during the Hussite wars and the resident monks killed or driven away. The monastery was partly renovated by the members of a Polish Dominican order, who made its buildings habitable towards the end of the 15th century. In the spring of 1556 the Jesuit Order, headed by the Provincial Father Peter Canisi, arrived in the Czech Lands on the invitation of the Emperor Ferdinand I and the leaders of the Catholic Church hierarchy. The Jesuits were given three options for their accommodation and chose the dilapidated building of the Dominican monastery in Prague’s Old Town. The last of the Dominican monks moved to the Prague monastery “Na Františku”.
The Jesuit College was built in several stages. The first buildings were erected between 1560 and 1561 according to a design by the Renaissance architect Bonifác Wolmut, followed by an addition of a school wing in the years between 1576 and 1577 and of the Church of the Most Holy Saviour (or Salvator). The most intensive period of building activity took place in the era of the Early and High Baroque, between the years 1653 and 1726, with subsequent work on the decoration of the interiors. Many important Baroque architects and artists took part in the construction of the Clementinum: Carlo Lurago, Giovanni Domenico Orsi di Orsini, František Maxmilián Kaňka, Kilián Ignác Dientzehofer, Giovanni Battista Passarini, Francesco della Torre, Matyáš Bernard Braun, Josef Kramolín, Václav Vavřinec Reiner, Jan Hiebl and many others. Foremost among the architectural highlights are the Church of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary, The Mirror Chapel (formerly called the Chapel of the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary), the Baroque Library Hall and the Astronomical Tower. The Jesuit Order remained in the Clementinum until 1773, when this so-called Society of Jesus was abolished by Pope Clement XIV. During their residence the Jesuits established the Clementinum as a centre of education and in 1616 their college was elevated to the status of university by the Emperor Matyas. Many scholars, both local and foreign, worked there and had at their disposal an extensive library collection. The foundation of the library dates back to the Dominican monastery era and the book collection was later supplemented by transfer of stock from the Jesuit monastery in Ojvín in Upper Lusatia.
After the Jesuits left, the Clementinum was first converted into a holding prison for participants in the peasant rebellion of 1775 and then into a printing works. In 1777 the Empress Maria Theresa issued an official decree for the foundation of a public university library in the premises of the Clementinum, which were at the same time partly remodelled in the Classicist style according to the design of the architect Matyáš Hummel.
The next significant building alterations of the complex, work of the architect Ladislav Machoň, were carried out between the years 1924 and 1936. The concrete book storage area, the reader services hall and the Otto Gutfreund sculptures date back to this time. The most recent modernization of the user facilities and the restoration work within the Clementinum complex commenced in March 2010, with the conclusion of the work scheduled for 2016.
Three massive oak doors from the 17th and the 18th centuries are situated on the first floor. The oldest and most richly decorated comes from 1660 – 1690 and features wood carvings with motifs of aediculae with Marian and Christ monogram. All the doors feature decorative fittings.
The doors’ structure was damaged by slight sagging, there were heavy dust deposits and damage in the lower parts of the doors. Many parts were scratched. Dirt was removed first, using nylon brushes and wet swab. Old coatings were carefully removed from the surfaces by abrasion. The loose panelling was fixated with injections of bone glue. Scratches were removed using suitably coloured alcohol mordant. Finally, a special protective varnish was applied on the doors.
The three oak windows were made in the 19th century. The structure of the frames and leafs was assessed as sufficiently preserved; the only defect consisted in minor sagging.
The surface of the frames was covered with a thick layer of modern-era coatings, which was impacting its overall aesthetic qualities. Experts carried out probing of the layers and found that the coating on the windows was originally ivory coloured.
The restoration plan prepared by experienced Gema Art Group experts proposes to mechanically remove the non-original coatings, using also hot air in the process. This would be followed by gentle abrasion of the surface and application of an enamel with the same colour profile as that of the original 19th century coating.
Also the historical fittings need to be adjusted to ensure their functionality.
fresco-secco technique are situated. These include a depiction of St. Edmunda Campion, a 16th-century Jesuit hanged and quartered for his ideas and missionary efforts, and Transfiguration of Jesus at Mount Tabor. Jesus Christ is floating on a cloud of light, accompanied by prophets Moses and Elijah and apostles Peter, John, and James. A third room on the second floor contains a mural depicting St. Eligius, the treasurer and bishop under the Merovingian king Chlothar II (584–629). St. Eligius is the patron saint of goldsmiths and metalworkers.
The decoration of the rooms was created between 1737 and 1738 by the painter and Jesuit priest Johann Kuben, who also preached in the St. Eligius Chapel within Klementinum.
The murals were covered by heavy dust deposits and were showing signs of powdering in some places. Plaster-based fillers drawing humidity were found under the darkened retouchings. These highly unsuitable fillers have to be immediately removed in order to stop jeopardising the future of the whole mural.
The restoration plan was determined on the basis of a survey and stratigraphy of the individual layers. A careful consolidation of the loose and powdered surfaces will have to be carried out during the restoration process; this should be followed up by filling the cracks. The large crack in the room containing the mural of St. Edmund Campion will require the greatest attention. Before any intervention, a structural engineer will have to be consulted. Conservation fixation will be carried out last.
The quartet of statues of Archangel Michael, Archangel Raphael, St. Aloysius Gonzaga and St. Stanislaus Kostka is situated in the corridor on Klementinum’s first mezzanine floor. The High Baroque sculptures were made in 1737 by Karel Josef Hiernle.
The statues had to be carefully examined by experts, whose conclusions underlie the compiled restoration schedule. The examinations included chemical analysis and UV-light microphotography.
The sculptures were found to be in a good structural condition. The polychromy was mostly coherent, with some peeling in certain places. The statues will have to be carefully cleaned using soft brushes in order to avoid damage to the polychromy. The missing parts will be replaced by purely mineral stone. Soft cracks will have to be grouted and sealed using acrylic solution fillers.