• August 10, 2014
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The visit of Polish restorers in Rossa: good news for the angel

A group of Warsaw experts were in Vilnius last week to look again at the preservation, and make a decision of restoration and conservation of the most beautiful and the most precious monument in Vilnius Rossa.

It is located on the tomb of Iza Salmonowiczówna (1877-1901) and it is the work of the famous Warsaw sculptor Leopold Wasilkowski (cast in bronze – a Warsaw company Bracia Łopieńscy).

The delegation included: Janusz Mróz, the metal restorer, Zenon Sadecki, the stone sculpture restorer, dr hab. Janusz Smaza, an expert from the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland, the stone sculpture and the architectural elements restorer, Piotr Zambrzycki, an expert in the field of restoring sculptures, representing the Social Committee for the Care of Old Vilnius Rossa, the main conservator of the Royal Łazienki Museum in Warsaw.

There was a meeting of a bilateral commission, starting the process of restoration and conservation of the monument on the grave of Iza Salmonowiczówna. All work will be carried out by a Lithuanian-Polish team of experts from different fields, funding – from the budget of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland. All work will be conducted in agreement with the conservation supervision institutions of Lithuania

The compilation of the methodology of conservation and restoration works was presented by a famous expert in this field, Elvyra Veronika Telksnienė. The programme projects a renovation of the burial tomb, along with the stone pedestal and the bronze sculpture. The beginning of the works – soon, they will last until the autumn of this year.

The rescue – on time

At the end of 1992, the object was included in the Lithuanian State Register of Protected Monuments. Unfortunately, in spite of the importance and seriousness of this fact, the monument was deteriorating. A real threat became sliding from the slope, on which it is located. It lasted until its condition became a matter of interest of Polish experts from the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland.

The immediate cause of their intervention was a crack of the side plate surrounding the upper part of the pedestal, made ​​of labradorite, very bad condition of the brick foundation, and other types of damage. It was therefore necessary to accede to immediate action.

As the object is on the list of protected monuments, many formalities had to be completed in Vilnius, to enable the Polish the execution of the works. A significant part of completing all documentation belongs to the Social Committee for the Care of Old Vilnius Rossa, with the leading president, Alicja Klimaszewska.

The works of Leopold Wasilkowski

A great connoisseur of Vilnius and its cemeteries, prof. Edmund Małachowicz (Vilner, from 1945 – the citizen of Wrocław) said about the Iza Salmonowiczówna’s monument that “This monument, rising in the chapel hills, at the back of the chapel, just above the high and steep slope of the North Valley, presents outstanding artistic values. On the narrowing obelisk pedestal, made of labradorite, there is a bronze figure of an angel, the work of the sculptor Leopold Wasilkowski, made in 1903. Slightly rising figure of an angel breaks the chains, connecting him to the ground, and bids farewell with a gesture. The sculpture is maintained on the pedestal only by the fold of garment, because feet are above it. The slender figure, the shape of the hair, garment and the gesture of the angel, as well as the shape of the pedestal, represent the mature forms of Art Nouveau. The location of the monument in a picturesque landscape intensifies the effect of the movement of the angel of the most beautiful monument of the cemetery”.

As an interesting fact, there is a copy of Leopold Wasilkowski’s sculpture on the Bernardine Cemetery. It was made in Warsaw workshop of R. B. Lubanowski. This is the “Angel of Peace” on the Marenicz Family tomb. The original was exhibited at the 5th Annual PAX Salon in Warsaw.

The slender angel in flowing robes, in a pose to soar, with a gesture of blessing the tomb and an expression of great peace, like the angel on Salmonowiczówna’s tomb, shows a high artistic level, although the change of provided material (bronze) to stone and zinc slightly decreased it. The wings and forearms with hands are made of zinc, because it was hard to forge them in stone. The remaining part of the figure is made of sandstone. In the 1990, the metal elements were chopped off and stolen. Fortunately, they were remade, on the basis of iconographic material.

Let’s hope that soon the beautiful Rossa angel – the original of Leopold Wasilkowski’s work – will shine with its former glory.

Halina Jotkiałło

Photograph: Karol Nowosielski

“Tygodnik Wileńszczyzny”

Translated by Paulina Baca within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.

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