The Artist’s Fingerprint. The manufa cturing technique in Johann Köler’s fresco Come unto Me, All…


  • Hilkka Hiiop



Hilkka Hiiop: The Artist’s Fingerprint. The conservation and technical examination of Johann Köler’s fresco Come unto Me, All…
Keywords: fresco painting, artist’s technique, artistic practice, technical conditions of th e painting, conservation
The article focuses on the artist’s technique in Johann Köler’s apse painting in the fresco technique, and the resulting conservation problems. In 2013, a technical examination was made and conservation-restoration work carried out on the altarpiece by Johan Köler in the apse of Kaarli Church in Tallinn. This was the first complete conservation of the painting since its completion. In order to conduct the conservation work, scaffolding was installed in front of the painting, which is located
at a height that is normally inaccessible. In addition to making the conservation work possible, this also made it possible to conduct a thorough technical examination of the work. Since, in the local context, this is a unique painting in fresco technique, the wet layer of plaster had stored a large amount of information. “Reading” of this information provides insight into the artist’s work methods and an interpretation of the marks left by the author. In the course of the research, the following features were identified: the artist’s handprint pressed into the wet plaster, the time sequence of the execution of the painting, the number of individual plaster areas, the location of the structural lines used in the preparation of the work, the various methods used to transfer the outlines from the 1:1 cartoons, etc.
Hilkka Hiiop (PhD) is head of Conservation Departement in Art Museum of Estonia and responsible of contemporary art conservation in Kumu Art Museum. She is also assistant professor and coordinator of the artefact conservation branch at the Estonian Academy of Art, Departement of Conservation. 2003–2009 she was working as a conservator of mural
paintings in Rome. She has supervised many conservation and technical investigation projects in Estonia, cureated exhibitions made scientific research on topic of conservation and technical art history. Hiiop’s PhD theses (2012) treated the conservation management of contemporary art.


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