Begun in 1886, the canvas features the vigour that is characteristic of nineteenth-century historicism. In 1890, the artist sent it to the collection of the Lusatian Hall of Remembrance in Görlitz (now the Zgorzelec Cultural Centre), from which it was taken, in 1956, to the collections of the Silesian Museum in Wrocław, now the National Museum in Wrocław. Because of its huge size it could not be presented, and so it lay in storage for several decades. A year ago Piotr Oszczanowski, director of the National Museum in Wrocław, took the decision to restore the painting and then to present it in Książ Castle.
– ”The most significant damage to the painting occurred because the canvas was cut out from its frame, folded in half and rolled up in 1945, which led to the chipping of painting layers, the appearance of plaster in them, and warping and tearing”, explained Beata Lejman. “The restoration of the work began with the cleaning of the face and back, removing chips on paint layers and patches. Following this, the torn and weakened canvas was smoothened, and strengthened with new linen material glued on the back. Chemical and microscopic analysis of samples helped pigments to be identified, and thanks to the technique of Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, an adhesive was identified as oil paint. Lost grout and paint layers were restored. Finally, a varnish was applied which made the composition clearer, gave it depth and brought out the details of the presentation and subtle colour tones. After the painting was stretched on a specially built self-expanding loom, it was attached to a wall on a frame constructed in Książ and the picture was set into it.”
The restoration of the painting was sponsored by the KGHM Polish Copper Foundation.
Below we present the painting before the restoration: