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The Chapel of St. Martin in Stari Brod – from Vernacular Architecture to Baroque Heritage
; Croatian Conservation Institute, Division for Branch Departments I, Zagreb, Croatia
; Croatian Conservation Institute, Division for Documentation, Zagreb, Croatia
Puni tekst: engleski, pdf (2 MB)
Pedišić, A., Ratančić, B. (2017). The Chapel of St. Martin in Stari Brod – from Vernacular Architecture to Baroque Heritage. Portal : godišnjak Hrvatskoga restauratorskog zavoda, (8). doi:10.17018/portal.2017.6
Puni tekst: hrvatski, pdf (2 MB)
Pedišić, A., Ratančić, B. (2017). Kapela sv. Martina u Starom Brodu – od tradicijske gradnje do barokne baštine. Portal : godišnjak Hrvatskoga restauratorskog zavoda, (8). doi:10.17018/portal.2017.6
The wooden chapel of St. Martin in Stari Brod is a rare example of traditional, vernacular architecture with a preserved Baroque interior. Over the centuries it has played an important part in the everyday life of villagers as a gathering place for worship and a powerful symbol of the village’s survival.
Archival records mention the chapel for the frst time in 1699. Originally, it was laid out as a single-nave chapel with a polygonal sanctuary and a small atrium on top of which stood a bell tower. Its present form originated when the atrium was incorporated to form a vestibule in 1736. It was built using a traditional technology of construction with oak planks laid over stone and brick foundations and interlocked without the use of brackets (socalled dovetail joint).
What is particular about the chapel is its interior design: all the walls, the ceiling over the nave and the sanctuary vault are lined with a vividly painted wainscoting made of 88 wooden panels framed with decorative laths. The panels depict motifs of intertwined symmetrical ribbons
with hanging acanthus leaves, rose ﬂowers, tulips, carnations, peonies and grape vines, painted in vivid colours in the mid-18th century. The main altar with the altarpiece of St. Martin was installed in 1743.
By the end of the 20th century, the chapel was rather neglected and had a dilapidated roof. As the roof covering was damaged, the interior was exposed to rainfall, which caused severe damage to the wooden support and the paintwork. An earlier replacement of the roof covering with beavertail tiles instead of shingles led to static displacements and deformations of the building material and caused further damage to the wainscoting panels. The main altar was removed from the chapel in 1991 during a war-time evacuation.
Renovation work on the chapel of St. Martin started with an architectural survey of the existing condition and conservation research of the painted wainscoting. The wainscoting was then dismantled, and construction repair of the chapel ensued, which lasted from 2007 to 2012. During the course of it, the entire chapel was disassembled in order for the foundations to be repaired and the damaged or rotted parts of the building replaced. Damaged parts of the roof construction were also repaired and the beavertail tiles replaced with oak shingles, modelled after the original covering.
On the dismantled elements of the wainscoting, necessary restoration treatments were carried out, which involved a mechanical removal of dirt from the back of the panels, gamma-ray disinsection, fxing of blistering portions of the polychromy to the support, consolidation of the support, joining and fxating of the panels, and a reconstruction and retouch of the painted layer. With the conservation work completed, the wainscoting panels were returned to the chapel.
The Baroque altar of St. Martin was put on display at the 1994 exhibition Sveti trag [Holy Trail], after which it was stored in the Croatian Conservation Institute’s depot in Ludbreg. Because of inappropriate microclimatic conditions, damage occurred in places where the wooden elements were joined, and layers of the polychromy and gilding partially detached from the wooden support. The damage was repaired in 2015, just before the altar was returned to the chapel.
Despite having been left without the altar in 1991 and the painted wainscoting in 2002, the chapel continued to be used for funerals and on the Feast Day of St. Martin. Only during the construction repair, when it was dismantled, was it out of function. With the renovation completed, the restored wainscoting mounted and the main altar installed, not only was its physical and visual integrity recovered, but a symbolic and spiritual component important to the local community was reinstated as the chapel was returned to function. Albeit important in art-historical terms, as a rare surviving example of Baroque wooden architecture, its true value lies in the symbolism of survival of a community that gathers around it, in spite of all the wars and ﬂoods to which it was exposed over the course of history. On the other hand, the comprehensiveness and complexity of the conservation work carried out, while applying the principle of renovation in accordance with professional guidelines, represent a model of how to approach the renovation and presentation of similar monuments of culture. All the aforementioned components constitute the reason why the renovation of the chapel of St. Martin in Stari Brod earned a Europa Nostra Award, a European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage in the category of conservation, with which it was presented in the May of 2017.
vernacular architecture; wooden chapels; Baroque art; Europa Nostra Award
Hrčak ID: 192459
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