The romanesque picture door of St. Maria im Kapitol – New research results and theses
21 - 23 October 2021

Cologne Institute of Conservation Sciences, Cologne (DE)

The two-winged door of the former church of canonesses St. Mary’s in the Capitol of Cologne belongs to one of the most significant artworks of the Romanesque period. It is the oldest wooden door with relief scenes of the Middle Ages that has been preserved. 25 high relief pictures present the childhood and youth of Christ on the left door leaf and the Passion on the right leaf. For present- day observers the wood of the door is visible almost all over the surface. However, it once had a precious polychromy.

It was already in the processes of conservation at the end of the 1980s when two Romanesque polychrome phases were proven. Thirty years later, in 2018, an extensive study of the picture door by means of state-of-the-art technological methods was conducted. It comprised the technical structure of the polychromy, the materials, the composition as well as the color canon of both phases on all parts of the door and provided numerous new findings.

In order to appreciate the significance of this unique work of art, however, further comprehensive cross-range research had to be carried out which will be presented at the occasion of the Conference.

Scientists of various specialist disciplines, e.g. art and history science, natural science, art technology, building research and epigraphy examined the picture door from their respective point of view. Thanks to the latest building history research, the comparison to book illumination, and the viewing in an urban and international context we are expecting new insights regarding the picture door and its function in St. Maria im Kapitol.

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