Details of appliqués on Theodoric´s pictures:
a) St. George – on dress, with characteristics of imprinted seals
b) St Barbara – motif of stylised leaf indicates use of form and technology of imprinted ladies´seals.

(Résumé) The author recently published more extensive expositions in Restauratorenblätter 1 and in a special issue of Zprávy památkové péče 2, to which we would refer the reader. We shall therefore, due to lack of space, only print certain parts of the paper delivered at the symposium. The stamping technique described is a working hypothesis which it would be useful to test experimentally; also the use of doubled tin and gold foil has not yet been proved convincingly. Discussion on the terminology for plastic decorations will undoubtedly continue – the disadvantage of Straub's classification is the fact that we do not always know, nor can we prove, how the given decoration came into being, so that we can name it exactly. The more widely used term in the Czech Lands, »pastiglia«, does not, of course, have any basis in the oldest period sources, for even Cennini knows only the terms »rilievo«, »rilevare« or »levare«. In technical descriptions Cennini uses »stampa« and »stampare«, which relate in meaning to engraving, casting and printing, as well as to stamping.


The use of plastic ornamental decoration in Czech painting in the 2nd half of the 14th century is closely connected with the Court art of Charles IV and is related mainly to the painting production of the sacred areas of Karlštejn Castle and St Vitus' Cathedral in Prague. In Bohemia this type of decoration appears suddenly after the middle of the 14th century and interest in it dies out fairly rapidly after the death of the Emperor, when, at the close of the 14th century, painting returns once more to the tradition techniques of gilding with punching, engraving or drawing 3.

The connection of these artistic procedures with the goldsmith techniques from which they are derived and which appear in painting led by imitative efforts after the acquisition of surfaces prepared by goldsmiths has already been recalled frequently. An extensive survey of Medieval art techniques was recently elaborated by a group of German authors; painting was dealt with by R.E.Straub 4 who, inter alia, carried out a general categorisation of painter's techniques of plastic decoration. Straub's terminological categorisation respects the method of preparation and the character of this decoration also suits our need to evaluate findings from the Czech environment. In Czech painting of the 2nd half of the 14th century the following basic techniques are used.

l/ the pastiglia technique, which consists in the application of liquid material with a  longer hair brush in several layers according to pre-drawn traced patterns after the smoothing out of gilded roughness. This is a very old technique already known in Antiquity (Egyptian sarcophages, Hellenist portraits). In Europe we find it in Romanesque Catalonian panel paintings as early as the 2nd half of the 12th century 5, in Italy it was part of the techniques known as »maniera greca«, i.e. a technique of Byzantine origin used in the 13th century 6.
In this country we can study this technique in the Karlštejn Chapel of St Catherine on the haloes of the figures, in the window alcove of the Church of the Virgin Mary and on one of the panel paintings in the Chapel of the Holy Rood. Whether this technique was used in the original decoration of the panel paintings from the Chapel of the Holy Rood in other pictures is a question which has no satisfactory answer; the existence of two or more coloured ground layers under the secondary finish of some of the paintings would not exclude this possibility.

2/ the application (appliqué) technique, which is of basic significance for the court painting of Charles IV as it is used to a great extent in the decoration of Karlštejn Castle and of St Vitus' Cathedral in Prague. In the Chapel of the Holy Rood in Karlštejn this technique was used, at the suggestion of the Emperor, for a uniform treatment of the backgrounds of almost all the panel paintings in keeping with the overall interior treatment of the Chapel.

In Europe we come up against this technique in Romanesque Catalonian antependia from the 13th century, where this relief decoration appears on the hems of the robes and decorative strips 7; Folch y Torres pointed to the connection with the stucco reliefs of architectural elements of pre-Romanesque buildings4'5 and Straub pointed out an early example of the retable of the Crucifixion from Soest dating from 1230. R. Koche sees a marked formal resemblance of the decoration of the retable of the Crucifixion of Soest to the Romanesque goldsmith work in the Rhine-Maas region in the 12th and 13th centuries4, A.Friedl mentions early examples of this decoration in Italy (Sienna, Naples) 8, numerous other findings have been collected by M. Frinta and M. Hamsík 9.

A greater widespreading of the technique of stamped applications over whole surfaces in painting and to a certain extent also in sculpture10 occurred in the 14th century in Germany, England, what is now Belgium and in the Czech lands. The relationship to the production of goldsmiths is also shown by the relief decoration on a set of German wood carvings known as the Röttgen Pieta (Bonn, Landesmuseum) which, according to Straub, has its direct pattern in works in metal from the Rhine and Maas area from the 12th and 13th centuries; similar connections are also pointed out by further German authors in the evaluation of the character of gold objects deponed in the Cathedral in Cologne on Rhine 11 and the painting decoration of the Altar of St Clare in the same Cathedral. Similar links were also studied with Czech art in the reign of Charles IV 12.

Investigative work on the panel paintings in the Chapel of the Holy Rood in Karlštejn showed that there existed several methods of preparing the applications, the two main groups consisting of decorations stamped directly into the material on the base covered in double tin-gold foil 13 and then decorations prepared separately by casting or stamping and then stuck onto the base and gilded with double tin-gold foil.

In this connection the question arises of whether the decorations of the first group, which include, for example, the relief decoration within the paintings on the panel pictures in the Chapel of the Holy Rood struck analogically to the printed so-called female seals with the use of their morphology (Figs. 1,2), 14 and which are of basic significance for the art of Charles IV's time, can still be included terminologically in the category of applications in the true sense of the world. In the second group of applications is the relief decoration carried out by the techniques described in the tract of C. Cennini in chapters 95 – 102 15, i. e. originating as casts or impressions of, for instance, parts of relief haloes, stars, decorative brooches, etc., stuck onto the surface of the picture. In Czech painting this technique has also already been described 16. Also falling into this category are decorations imitating so-called clothing bracteates (lamina) stamped in metal from thin strips of gilded silver which in the 14th century were sewn onto the hems of robes, belts, etc. These bracteates were manufactured by goldsmiths (known as sheet-makers) in large series; the matrices for the stamps were prepared in cooperation with painters. This working contact indicates a great deal also for the origin of the decoration of the robes of the figures on the panel paintings in the Chapel of the Holy Rood. The objects of the so-called Karlštejn Treasury 17 show that the relief decoration of the robes of the figures emerged from the morphology of contemporary clothing accessories and customs on the pictures is used in masterly manner the imitation of goldsmith's dress elements in the form of pressings of painter's applications in higher relief. This technique is also closely connected with the manufacture of seals, seal rings, jewellery and other goldsmith's techniques.

Appliqués were also cast in metal (most frequently tin with an admixture of lead) by the same technique as used for the making of Gothic pilgrim's badges 18, small prefabricated reliquaries, lithurgical instruments, etc. These decorations were most frequently attached to the panel of the painting with the aid of little metal nails and gilded in the flat, as is known from the fragments of decoration of the background of the panel painting of St Simon from the Chapel of the Holy Rood. Clearly similarly attached were appliqués prepared as small pieces of jewellery and goldsmith's work, on the pictures in the Chapel of the Holy Rood all that is left today are openings.

Painter's and goldsmith's applications create on the background of the paintings what might be called a geometrical wallpaper background as we know it, for example, from West European and Bohemian book painting, from work in metal by Nicholas of Verdun from the end of the 12th century 12, etc. If we study carefully the ornamental motifs of the plastic decoration used in painting in the 2nd half of the 14th century, an inclination is evident towards geometrical designs of West European origin, even though in Europe at this time there was greater popularity for Eastern decorative schemes, mainly from China and the countries of Islam, which spread from Italy, and also ornamentation of Italian origin. It seems that the basis for the origin of wallpaper backgrounds in art from as early as the 12th century was the amount of fabric hangings in the interiors of Medieval seat and churches – in panel painting this fact considerably relativises the argument of some authors that this background to paintings imitates the metal coverings of Byzantine icons 7,9. In the 15th century the decorative background of panel paintings achieved a high degree of virtuosity in Dutch painting in the pictures of enthroned Madonnas with realistically depicted textiles.


3/ Technique of incrustations of precious stones in gilded relief frames and the sticking on of semi-precious stones polished to the shape of lenses and ovals, which we find in Karlštejn Castle, St Vitus Cathedral and also in the Castle in Tangermünde 19. The method of setting the little plates of semi – precious stones into relief-decorated gilded frames is analogical to that used by goldsmiths for liturgical objects such as reliquaries, small altars, etc. from the Rhine and Maas areas, including demonstrable tiny details 20. The lense shaped semi-precious stones were used on the haloes of figures on the wall-paintings in the St Wenceslas Chapel in St Vitus' Cathedral in Prague.

In conclusion the author recalls striking parallels with wall paintings in the St Stephen Chapel in Westminster Abbey in London 21 and the paintings on the inner side of the choir screen in the Cathedral of Cologne on the Rhine 22. In both cases it recalls the striking coincidence of the existence of two phases of work separated in time – in the second phase the original decoration on the backgrounds of the paintings was always replaced with a new uniform decoration – as in the Chapel of the Holy Rood in Karlštejn 23. The exposition of a Western origin for the techniques of relief decoration used in the Czech lands closes with an interesting comment: »In the decoration of the Emmaus Monastery where, due Charles' presumed concept, tendencies utilising the heritage and advantages of Byzantine painting could have flourished to the full, plastic decoration is not used on the wall paintings which have been preserved.« Her paper ends with the basic thesis on the orientation of the Emperor Charles IV towards the art of the Rhine and Maas area in accordance with his presentation and imperial efforts, i.e. the emphasis on continuity with the rule of Charlemagne.

1. H.Blochová: Untersuchung der plastischen Schmucktechnik gotischer Tafelbilder in der Hl.Kreuz Kapelle auf der Burg Karlstein, in: Restauratorenblätter, Bd.13, Wien 1992, p.153 – 6

2. H.Blochová: Zhodnocení výsledků průzkumu souboru deskových obrazů z kaple sv. Kříže na Karlštejně, in: Zprávy památkové péče 52/1992, No.ll, pp. l525

3. Charles IV became wellacquainted with French goldsmithswork and the goldsmithsproduction of the Rhine and Maas district during his seven years in the French Court, whither he was sent by his father for an education. With the dedication of the relics of St Eligius he later confirmed the exceptional standing of the Guild of Goldsmiths.

4. Straub, R.E., ed.: Tafel und Leinwandmalerei in: Reclams Handbuch der künstlerischen Techniken, Band 1, Stuttgart, p. 170

5. Chadraba, R.: Východní prvky Karlovského umění, Umění a řemesla, 1978, pp.132 - 133
The author describes how the gilded relief stucco decoration has a very ancient tradition, clearly Persian in origin, maintained in the Middle Ages mainly by the Arabs – could not, then, this technology have reached Europe, Spain to be exact, in this way?

6. The Karlštejn diptych of Tommaso dá Modena with the Madonna and Suffering Christ, where the haloes of the figures are adorned with vegetable ornaments, is an export of this technique to the Czech lands. The triptych with the Madonna and Child between St Wenceslas and St Palmatius (?) from the Chapel of the Holy Rood went through secondary alterations in the area of the background during which the original Italian decoration disappeared (today we can see on the picture alterations from last century).

7. Frinta, M.: The puzzling raised decorations in paintings of Master Theodoric, Simiolus 3, 1976, pp.4968

8. Friedl, A.: Master Theodoricus, Prague 1956, p.98
In the Museo Opera del Duomo in Sienna there is a panel painting of the Madonna Enthroned with Child, Sienna work from the beginning of the 13th century, where stamped applications are used on the frame with the motif of tctrarosettes. Raised elements are also used on the halo of the Madonna and on the throne.

9. Hamsík, M.: Pastiglia původ a technika, Technologia Artis 1992, pp. 4549

10. This problem is also dealt with in connection with the sculpture of Parler by A. Koenigsmarková

11. Hamsik, M.: Reliéfní dekor středověké malby – pastiglia, původ a technika, Umění 1992, p. 106

12. Legner, A.: Rhein und Maas Kunst und Kultur 800 – 1400 Eine Ausstelung des Schnütgen-Museum der Stadt Köln und der belgischen Ministerien furfranzösische und niederländische Kultur, Köln 1972, pp. 140160

13. The manner of degradation of relief decoration on the panel paintings in the Chapel of the Holy Rood indicate the following method of stamping: in the course of the stamping the most strained part of the foil - i.e. the highest points of the applications - was subject to hairline cracking through which the humidity of the atmosphere and oxygen could penetrate, causing corrosion of the tinfoil.

14. The stamping of seals was carried out by applying wax to the stamp and the second part of the wax known as the wax core was placed on the sheet and with the application of pressure the two parts of the wax combined. The wax was often coloured red with the addition of minium. Similarly, on the stamped decorations of the clothes in the panel paintings in the Chapel of the Holy Rood it may be presumed that a core was applied to the painting of stiffish adherent material with the addition of ochres and minium, which in some cases, for better adhesion to the base, was stuck to a thin transparent layer of glue. Into the dye there was carefully packed double tin-gold foil and then the application material and with the application of pressure, as in the case of the seals, the two materials combined. The removal of the filling from the die was facilitated in addition by the pieces of metal foil protruding from the die, which were then cut off in the shape of the dye as can be seen by the marks of cuts preserved on some of the pictures.

15. Cennino Cennini, II libro dellarte, Czech translation Prague 1946

16. Josefík J.: Průzkum a restaurování gotické nástěnné malby »Klanění tří králů« v katedrále sv. Víta v Praze, in: Zprávy památkové péče 11, 1992, pp.40-44

17. Urešová, L.: Karlštejnský poklad, Umění 1987, p. 494

18. These were tiny castings from an alloy of tin and lead from a mould of slate. Only one proof of this has been preserved in Bohemia - a pilgrim's badge related to the Feast Day of the Spear of St Longinus, newly introduced by Charles IV viz: Katalog sbírky středověkého uměleckého řemesla, Praha 1986, pp. 1825 (Prague Museum of Applied Arts)

19. Skřivánek, F.: Inkrustace z drahého kamene vrcholný projev interiérové úpravy v české gotické architektuře, in: Památky a příroda 10, 1985, p.583

20. See, for instance, the panel of a small altar with an inset small plate of agate from the beginning of the 13th century, Lower Saxony, to be found in the State Art Museum in Berlin. A gilded frame decorated with stamping, engraving and punching. Also similar are the tiny details of the corners with an ornamental motif. The incrustations of the Karlštejn Chapels were dealt with by F.Skřivánek: Inkrustace karlštejnských kaplí, Technologia Artis 2, 1992, pp. 3942.

Master Theodoric, St Margaret: detail of stamped appliqués on background of painting. Imitation of goldsmith's work on stamped surface, including imitation of rivets in corners of square ornamental unit, (photo J. Bartoníček).

21. Plesters J., Mills J.: Preliminary Report on the Examination of a Part of the Wall Paintings from St Stephen's Chapel, now in the British Museum, National Gallery London, 1973, pp. 13.

22. Bentchev I.: Zur Maltechnik der Chorschranken-Malereien in: Sonderdruck aus dem Jahrbuch der Rheinischen Denkmalpflege, Band 29, Koln, 1983

23. The technique of secondarily stamped applications from England is close to the secondary layer on the panel paintings in the Chapel of the Holy Rood. The primary decoration of the paintings from England, Germany and also from Bohemia is marked by the use of analogical materials and processes.

RNDr. mgr. Hana Blochová, AHVT A 044