Restoration of the main altar
The restorers have been returning the altar the original design which combines gold and copper.
The team of restorers under the supevision of Daniela Talavera continue in removing the upper layers of the paintings on the middle part of the altar. They are restoring its golden ornaments and the with marble imitation wooden architecture. The final design of the altar will combine gold and copper. This is the original colouring which the altar had at the time of its origin in the first quarter of the 18th century and can already be seen on the upper part of the altar and on the statues which were restored in 2017.
Several years ago, before the restoration of this church’s interior commenced, I was asked, as an expert, to outline the overall concept of the restoration of the interior as a whole as well as the restoration of all the individual altars.
Restoration is a complex process seeking to preserve the monument itself, its essence, while looking for the path to its original presentation and howthe way it looked at the time of its creation. All the movable monuments housed in this church have undergone multiple changes since their placement in the 17th century. In particular we need to mention the colour of polychromes in the sculptural decoration of the individual altars. The restoration process and the search for the right path were always preceded by an extensive discussion with the representatives of the National Heritage Institute. All the restoration surveys used as a basis for the initial approach were analysed in great detail.
The latter layers of paint needed to be removed from the sculptural decoration of the altars – the figures of the saints and angels – the polychrome layers in the face areas in particular. In many places, gilding had been applied on a new underlying chalk layer. The layer was too thick and as a consequence it completely hid and totally degraded the original expressive quality of the carving and at the same time covered the fragmentary original layer on which copper foil was laid. It was decided that the gilding – probably applied in the 19th century – would be removed and the original copper foil restored.
Doc. Petr Kuthan, sculptor and restorer
The statues of the spiritual fathers and founders of the Order of the Discalced Carmelite – Elijah, Elisha, Theresa of Jesus and John of the Cross – were restored in accordance with the overall concept in 2017. Before they are returned to their positions they will be displayed in the church this year. It offers a unique opportutity to explore them from close up.
The restoration is financed by the Church of the Infant Jesus from the donations of many individuals and with support of the City of Prague (2017 – 48,000 EUR, 2018 – 88,000 EUR) and the Czech Ministry of Culture (2006-2018 54,000 EUR).