Statue of St John Nepomuk, Poběžovice near Domažlice, Czech Republic
|Address:||Náměstí Míru, 345 22 Poběžovice|
|Description of work:||Restoration of the stone statue of St John Nepomuk|
|Investor:||The village of Pobežovice|
|Contractor:||GEMA ART GROUP a.s.|
The small town of Poběžovice is situated 15 kilometres away from the West Bohemian town of Domažlice. It was first mentioned in written documents in 1359 when it was listed in the tax register for Plzeň Region. Originally a settlement for tied labourers, it was elevated to the status of a town in 1502 thanks to the local landowner Dobrohost z Ronšperka. The name of the town was changed at that time to “Ramsberg” (Ramshill). It was known by its Czech version “Ronšperk” till 1948, when the town’s name reverted to the original Poběžovice.
The town expanded during the 17th century, when it became the property of Matyáš Bohumír Wunschwitz (or Vunšvic), county marshal for the Plzeň Region and a great adherent of the cult of John Nepomuk. John Nepomuk, vicar general of the Archbishop of Prague, died a martyr’s death at the behest of the King Wenceslas IV (1378 – 1419) and subsequently became the most revered saint of the Baroque era. Marshal Wunschwitz commissioned the statue from the renowned sculptor Jan Brokoff, who lived in Poběžovice between 1682 and 1683. The statue, made from coarse-grained sandstone, was modelled on a small clay statuette from 1681, work of the Austrian sculptor and painter Mathias Rauchmiller. The statue is almost two and a half metres high and rests on a square-shaped plinth. The plinth bears the inscription “Sancte Ioannes Patrone urbis.Sigulis Culturibus Dei Favorem”. The saint is depicted in the traditional iconographic form – in canon’s vestment and with a biretta, holding a cross in his hand and a halo with five stars coiled around his head.
The statue was first restored in 1875, with subsequent renovations carried out in the 1960s and in 1977.
Restoration work was carried out both on the statue of St John Nepomuk and on its plinth. The monument was found in a state of advanced decay and the work had to be divided into two stages. First the statue had to be secured to prevent further loss of stone mass; then it was possible to carry out the actual restoration.
Restoration of the statue of St John Nepomuk:
The first repairs of the statue became unavoidable in the 1960s, when the eroded parts of its face had to be remodelled. Further retouching was carried out in 1977. In 1998 the statue had been found in a critical state. Part of the left hand was missing and the features of the face had become detached from the base. The statue was affected by cracks and green algae. After the statue was secured the cracks were infilled and the surface cleaned. The algae was removed using ammonia and peroxide. This was followed by a secondary consolidation of the cracks. The most affected parts had to be infilled with injections of a white cement dispersion.
Because the missing part of the hand was only a copy of the original it was decided to leave the statue without it. The shape of the area where the break occurred was expertly remodelled so as to incorporate it into the overall character of the statue. The adjustment was first consulted with Heritage Institute staff. The remaining right hand was strengthened and underpinned with copper fittings. The broken off part of the plinth was remodelled using artificial stone. To conclude the surface of the statue was treated with a hydrophobic agent.
Restoration of the copper halo:
The copper halo was also found to be in very poor shape. During the work the missing and damaged stars had to be replaced to recreate the customary five-starred appearance of the halo. The surface of the copper was treated and then gilded with gold leaf.