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Conservation of Wooden Festal Icon Stand

Parish Church of Theotokos Koumariotissa | Yenikoy I Constantinople

Ecclesiastical objects, like portable icons and ecclesiastical woodcarvings, have been constructed for the liturgical needs of an Orthodox church building. These works are recognised not only for their theological symbolism but also as works of art with artistic, historic and archaeological value.

The conservators at ARTIS took on the task of restoring a festal icon stand from the Holy Church of the Theotokos “Koumariotissa” in Neochori of Constantinople in 2017. With dimensions of 235 x 53 x 70 cm, the icon stand is in the monastic style with a rectangular body and a drawer for storing an icon. The upper portion of the icon stand bears a canopy representing the heavens, topped with an ornate carved wooden crown.

Although a work from the 19th century, its characteristics were not very obvious, since its whole surface area had been coated with thick layers of oil and bronze paint that had significantly altered its appearance.

As was revealed in preliminary cleanings, the icon is decorated with gilded woodcarvings and colour accents on the rest of its surface. After the cleaning phase was completed, the necessary actions to reinforce and preserve the wood were carried out, since it was observed that physical durability of the wood had lessened over time, and there were more than a few cracks and damages.

The conservation process came to an end with the process of aesthetic restoration, during which the painted portions of the work were retouched. Similar retouching had to be done to the gilding as well with local applications of gold and silver leaf, which required the expert techniques used by the specialist personnel of ARTIS.

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