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Warsaw. Paintings in the church at Plac Narutowicza are attacked by mold and fungus

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The paintings decorating the church at Plac Narutowicza require urgent conservation work. These have just started. Conservators will glue flaking layers and plasters that are loose from the substrate.

Church of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish of St. Jakuba is a monumental Neo-Romanesque building towering over Narutowicza Square. It was erected in the years 1909-39 according to the design of Oskar Sosnowski.

Contest announced during the war

As the conservator of monuments in Warsaw reminds, already during the occupation, in 1943, a secret competition was announced for the design of decorations for the chancel of the church. Its winners were Helena and Lech Grześkiewicz. Initial work on the preparation of the paintings was interrupted by the outbreak of the Warsaw Uprising. In 1947, the artists continued their work, probably according to a changed design.

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The painting composition consists of three parts: the Annunciation, the Coronation of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Crucifixion. They are complemented by representations of angels and minor scenes from the life of Jesus and the Virgin Mary. The paintings stylistically refer to early Christian frescoes.

Making decorations in the presbytery marked the beginning of many years of cooperation between the Grześkiewicz family and the parish. Helena and Lech, and after their mother’s death also their son Piotr, worked on the interior decoration of the church in stages until the 1990s, the conservator reminds.

The brick façade of the church with sandstone details has undergone renovation and maintenance co-financed by the city in recent years. Now it’s time for similar work in the interior.

The paintings will be cleaned and disinfected

The paintings in the presbytery are in very bad condition and urgently require professional conservation work.

One of the reasons for their disastrous condition is the combination of the technique of painting on fresh, still wet plaster by the authors with the less durable tempera, placed on the already dried ground. The layers of tempera, under the influence of time and biological corrosion, flake off and fall off. There are also fungi and mold.

During the work that has just started, the paintings will be cleaned and disinfected. Conservators will remove secondary repainting applied several times during later renovations. Next, they will meticulously glue peeling paint layers and plasters that are loose from the substrate. Where necessary, specialists will supplement damaged fragments and perform imitative retouching. The paintings will be reinforced and impregnated.

The city supported the conservation of the wall paintings with a grant of PLN 300,000.

Main photo source: City Hall of Warsaw



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