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The Alois Riegl report concerning Diocletian ’s Palace of 1903

Franko Ćorić ; Filozofski fakultet u Zagrebu
Marko Špikić ; Filozofski fakultet u Zagrebu

Puni tekst: hrvatski pdf 1.638 Kb

str. 387-416

preuzimanja: 962


Puni tekst: engleski pdf 1.638 Kb

str. 387-416

preuzimanja: 396



The paper contains a translation of and commentary on the text of Alois Riegl Report on an analysis carried out at the order of the presidency of the K. und. K. central commission for the sake of preserving the interests of the medieval and modern monuments within the one-time Diocletian’s Place in Split, placing it in the context of the time it was written. Riegl was the chief conservator of the 2nd division of the central commission for the study and maintenance of artistic and historical monuments; he gave his opinion of the problems related to the preservation of the structures within the palace of Diocletian. He came to Split to examine the results of the first session of the Diocletian’s Palace Commission of 1903. The basic problem was concerned with the issue of either keeping or removing several structures in the centre of the complex that interfered with the view onto the well preserved ancient buildings (Mausoleum, Temple of Jupiter and the propugnaculum of the Western Gate). The focus of Riegl’s viewpoints laid out in the report and then presented at the session of the commission from October 17 to October 19, 1904, in Split was oriented towards the preservation of
the diocesan building, as against the wishes of Bulić, Georg Niemann, Wilhelm Kubitschek and representatives of the local community. In his report, Riegl employed the value system of the cultural heritage developed in the work Modern Cult of Monuments, published in that same year, 1903. At the session of the palace commission in 1904 about the question of the preservation of the diocesan building there was a clash between adherents of archaeological and of ancient values, that is, a confrontation of visions professions, generations, value systems and views of the principle of monumental conservation.
Adherents of the archaeological viewpoint (F. Bulić, G. Niemann, W. Kubitschek, the local community and provisinally O. Benndorf) thought that the palace was so important that it would justify depopulating the area around the palace and demolishing later buildings. This would allow the creation of an archaeological area and systematic research. In a milder version of the first option (Benndorf, 1903) a study of individual buildings and remains of the Palace was offered during the demolition of buildings or their rebuilding, in this case, the demolition of the diocesan building. Adherents of the milder, conservatorial conception (Riegl above all and partially Benndorf too) offered the idea of the coexistence of Roman period, medieval and modern buildings, with respect for their historical and artistic, ancient and ambiental values. Aware that absolute conservation was impossible, Riegl was ready for a compromise; in the case of the diocesan building (Bishop’s Palace), he allowed the possibility of removing the smaller southwestern wing. Weighing of the arguments and making the decision concerning the future of the Bishop’s Palace building were left to the Ministry of Religion and Teaching. Forced to choose between the two options, the state chosen the second, based on the preservation of the status quo with the necessary smaller interventions to individual buildings.
In the office of chief conservator of the second division of the central commission, Riegl put forward a new understanding of the value of the heritage, and personally urged the expansion of the idea of altruistic motivation for the protection of monuments, through a clear conservatorial viewpoint that he promoted within the Viennese school of art history and the Austrian conservation community. In contrast to the discriminating attitude of the classicists and the stylistic restoration of the 19th century by archaeologists and architects-restorers, at the beginning of the 20th century the view adopted by Riegl, as art historian and champion of the conservation approach, was one of a pluralism of values within the palace complex. From this point of view the report was supposed to help to change attitudes to the study and preservation of the remnants of the palace, that is, to its comprehension as a stratified historical assemblage.

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