The mural decorations are to befound in three recesses of the Chapel – in the vaulting linking the main space with the Windows. The first recess left of the table, (the western window) has the scene of the »Twenty-Four Elders Wors-hipping the Apocalyptical Lamb« and »The Apocalyptical God) Christ the Pantocrator)«. In the second recess (eastern window) there are depictions of the scenes: »The Annunciation«, »The Visitation« and »The Three Magi Worshipping the New-Born Child«. In the third recess (the second eastern window into the entrance room) there remain traces offour pictures »Christ with Mary and Martha«, »Christ in the House of Simon«, »The Raising of Lazarus« and »Noli me tangere« restored these wallpaintings in the years 1979-82 on request of Professor Slánský, who, during his life, restored all other parts of the Castle.

Seven years ago Dr. J. Tomek and M. Hamsík published the basic data on the technical structure ofthe mural paintings in the Holy Rood Chapel in the Journal »Umění«. The comparative table worked out on the basis ofthat article is given at the end since it sbows the exceptionaly close relationship between Karlštejn, the paintings in the cloisters of Emmaus Abbey in Prague and the panel paintings. At the very beginning of restoration, during work on thepicture ofthe Annunciation, it was discovered that the mural is painted in the technique of a panel picture. As this publication includes a detailed report by Dr. Tomek on the analyses carried out in the National Gallery at the time, there is no need to describe the technique of painting as a whole, simply to point out some interesting cases that were found during restoration.

1. Blackening of the lead white paint can be seen on the picture of the Annunciation on the face the Virgin. As the photo shows, it is a state similar to Cimabue's Crucifixion at Assisi. While there the surface parts of modelling with darkened, here the lower layers have darkened in places that are worn off. In the course of centuries the lead white has darkened also on several other uncovered places. This white oil priming used is identical with the lower white layer of Theodoric's panel pictures that covered the sharpness of the drawing.



The blackening of the lead white paint - detail of the Annuciation, Holý Rood Chapel

2. Negative of the drawing on the picture of the 24 Elders. This picture alone – as art historians have found does not fully correspond to the painting of Master Theodoric and has been attributed to another master in the circle of court painting, who worked at Emmaus Abbey, Technical differences can be added to this observation. A »negative of the drawing« arose on thispicture alone by the falling off and disintegration of the underdrawing. The following might be an explanation: The underdrawing was probably applied on a less insulated foundation layer. The drawing itself was strongly bound with a bonding medium which in places of the drawing formed stronger resistance to the diffusing processes than surrounding patches of the painting. The pressure of water vapour caused a loosening of the painting in those places so that a negative came into being. If this phenomenon occurred only on the picture of the 24 Elders, it must be assumed that there was a different bonding medium between the drawing and the base in case of the other pictures.




Archangel Gabriel from the Annunciation, Holly Rood Chapel.
On the left restored painting, on the right – reconstruction scheme of the originál state of the wing: 1) painting, 2) metal and pastiglia, 3) pastiglia



Scheme of the attachment of tinny pinions and pastiglia.
Above section:
1) pastiglia, 2) bonding material – the same as of the pastiglia, 3) tin, 4) mortar
Below sight detail:
1) bonding material, 2) pastiglia, 3) painting, 4) tin

 



The Adoration of the Magi, Holy Rood Chapel.

3. Plastic elements – incrustation and pastiglia. Observation shows that the painting is immensely rich. Theodoric was not satisfied merely with plastic expression in paint he aimed at real tangible plasticidy of the decorations. For that reason he placed pastiglia into the painting, made of silicious matter (see analysis by Dr. Tomek) with plastic metal features. As to the incrustation plastic stars in the background of the pictures with glass disks, most of them replaced by new ones by architect Mocker. The plastic material of the new stars these adaptations, into which the glass is set, was probably made of chalk, rosin, oil and pigment. These decorations became loose as the result off luctuating warmth and humidity. Over years the material of the stars became warped, cracked, and part of it flaked off like the original pastiglia. It can be seen on the detail of the head of the Virgin in the Annunciation that the plastic halo is composed of segments, just as the plastic hems were made of individual pieces among the wall decorations of semi-precious stones. Similar plastic decorations close by were likewise applied or impressed with a mould. Theodoric, in other words, worked on the wall in similar manner as on the panel pictures. That is the main proof of the unified decorations of the entire Chapel, the unified intentions of the artist the differences between the wall, the panel picture and the incrustation vanished.



The head of the Holy Vir gin, after restoration


4. The tinny wing of the angel in the Annunciation. Plastic decorations are liable to quicker deterioration than painting, and they have flaked off. We have lost also other metal accessories that intensified the precious stone appearance of the entire ornamentation. On the wing of Archangel Gabriel in the Annunciation I have tried to indicate the original appearance by reconstructing the drawing since, in present fragmentary state of preservation, it is almost completely lost. The photograph shows only chaos showing the degree of destruction of this magnificent ornamentation.
On the photograph can he seen between the surviving tinny pinions imprints (putty) in which other tinny pinions were set. Since the attachment of these shaped metal foils was not sufficient (no metal spikes been found), the major part fell off at a later date. It is fascinating to realize that the entire wing was made of these plastic features, that the wings had a silver sheen 5 and they might even have hada colour glaze, such as we know it from pictures by Cavallini, Cimabue and from Byzantium, Rainbow-coloured wings belong iconographically to the Archangels Today, when the metal parts have blackened surfaces we cannot prove this, we can only imagine it. Theodoric, however, was not satisfied even with this. He placed further plastic ornaments of grey silicious matter on the metal feathers (see detailed photo), and these were gilded.



Actual state of preservation – imprints of lost tiny pinions are visible.


The wealth and beauty of these decorations is not only old but also modern art When we consider that application of metal and other plastic objects into pictures is regarded as an invention of 20th century art, then Karlštejn Castle provides us with a proof of this appreciation and technique in the deep Middle Ages. We ought to be able to understand this kind of art from the point of view of the philosophy of contemporary painting.

  author
Jan Pasálek, AHVT B 024 (T.G.)


5 Chemical tests carried out on the metal ornaments of other paintings in the Chapel have clearly shown that we are dealing everywhere with tin (with an admixture of other metals, i. e. pewter). The blackened surface points to silver, an additional application of silver on the surface. From the point of view of method it should be mentionned that paint has survived between the individual metal feathers corresponding to the attached accessories. In other words, Theodoric first drew the wings and toned them and then proceeded to attaching plastic elements.