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The Church of St. John in Jelsa – an Example of Comprehensive Conservation Treatment
; Ministry of Culture, Directorate for the Protection of Cultural Heritage, Conservation Department in Split, Croatia
Puni tekst: engleski, pdf (2 MB)
Gamulin, A., Letilović, I. (2017). The Church of St. John in Jelsa – an Example of Comprehensive Conservation Treatment. Portal : godišnjak Hrvatskoga restauratorskog zavoda, (8). doi:portal.2017.7
Puni tekst: hrvatski, pdf (2 MB)
Gamulin, A., Letilović, I. (2017). Crkva sv. Ivana u Jelsi – primjer cjelovitog konzervatorsko-restauratorskog zahvata. Portal : godišnjak Hrvatskoga restauratorskog zavoda, (8). doi:portal.2017.7
The church of St. John was erected in the Middle Ages in the eponymous bay on the north coast of the island of Hvar. Earliest surviving records mentioning the church date from 1463. In the bay, which initially served as a port for the nearby village of Pitve, the town of Jelsa would later grow, having owed its development primarily to fshing and shipbuilding. As the Ottoman raids subsided, the town experienced a renewed prosperity, and the decaying church was reconstructed, as a singular architectural and urban project in the already-formed St. John’s Square. The Baroque church originated in the mid-18th century, when its interior was completed and furnished with artworks. The church has the characteristic layout of an elongated octagon; the façades are decorated with Baroque stone sculpture, while the main axis is made prominent by the portal, rose window and bell cote. In the interior, the vault is supported by transverse arches resting on pilasters, while the sanctuary is accentuated with a triumphal arch and a stone chancel screen. The walls are painted in imitation of stone, while the vault in the zones of the transverse arches is highlighted with painted bordures, which on the sanctuary vault carry ﬂoral painted motifs. The masonry altar is furnished with a wooden chancel screen, and on the altar an altarpiece is enclosed within the wooden screen. The screen, on which three paintings have survived, is presented in the last ﬂoral painting, whose motif matches the original and was designed to resonate with the bordures painted on the walls.
In the course of conservation, particular attention was paid to the altarpiece of St. John the Baptist, which had undergone a ‘restoration’ decades earlier. The painting was once attributed to Italian painter and priest Giovanni Battista Tosolini. However, during the recent conservation eﬀorts, once the unprofessionally executed overpaints were removed, we uncovered the signature of an unknown author that disproves the earlier attribution.
The church has particular value in the chronological and stylistic unity of its architectural design, interior and liturgical furnishings. This was acknowledged in the process of renovation, which was aimed towards a rehabilitation of all heritage values into a harmonized ensemble. The concept guiding the conservation of movable furnishings was to unify them with the church space. Candlesticks and bases for palmettes found their place in the church, while the benches that were renovated by local carpenters were returned to use. The chancel screen, as a frame enclosing the altarpiece, was made to match the ceiling painting.
The renovation of the church of St. John was completed in 2015, and the conservation work was presented with the exhibition “Renovation of St. John’s Church” in the Kravata Gallery, Jelsa Municipal Museum. We especially wish to emphasise the coordinated eﬀorts of all experts and specialists whose collaboration contributed to the successful rehabilitation of this church building, one compelling example of a Baroque Gesamtkunstwerk.
church of St. John; Jelsa; 18th century; Baroque; restoration of a wooden altar and altarpiece; wall painting restoration; stone restoration
Hrčak ID: 192460
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