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Research projects | Belgium
Art Gardens

The ArtGarden research project tests and develops an efficient (“best practices”) matrix (tool – protocol) for monitoring, imaging and documenting (art-technical), fragile historic mixed media objects. This is used to facilitate decision making during conservation and preservation practice.

The casus in ArtGarden is the conservation and preservation of the unique collection of seven Enclosed Gardens from the Museum Hof van Busleyden. Their condition is similar to that of a vast number of museum objects kept in the Belgian Federal collections and even worldwide. Due to the mixed media nature of the Gardens this case study generates new know-how that can be applied to the conservation of other complex heritage objects. The aim is to develop ArtGarden as an international benchmarking project for conservation & preservation of original mixed media artefacts in museum environments.

Promotors of the research project are the Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage, KIK-IRPA, the University of Leuven – KU Leuven and the University of Antwerp, Axes.

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Besloten hofjes Mechelen

A blog dedicated to the research and conservation of the famous Enclosed Gardens from Mechelen.

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Master of Elsloo

The works of the late-medieval sculptor the ‘Master of Elsloo' in Belgian ownership: art-historical and technical research in an international perspe

Promoter: Christina Ceulemans

Project within the framework of the research campaign Stimulation of Research in the Federal Scientific Institutes (Action 1) - 2010-2011

The project consists of a technical and art-historical study of the works of the late medieval wood sculptor the Master of Elsloo. Few late-medieval sculptors have been attributed such an extensive oeuvre as the Master of Elsloo, whose conventional name derives from a Virgin and Child with Saint Anne from the St. Augustine Church of Elsloo, a sculpture which in the nineteenth century was still listed in the inventory of the Munster Church in Roermond. Almost 200 works of the Master have been identified, around 70 of which are in Belgium, mainly in the province of Limburg. His other works are found in the Netherlands and Germany, in the region that is currently referred to as the Euregio Maas-Rijn. In some important foreign museums, The Master of Elsloo is represented as well.

The aim of this study, set up within the framework of an ambitious three-part international collaboration project (Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany), is to draw up a survey on the Elsloo-works. With its photographic inventory and expertise in the domaine, IRPA/KIK is the logical choice for conducting the Belgian component. By means of art-historical, technical and archival research, we aim to gain insights into the production and workshop of the Master, as well as in similar workshops. One particularly interesting aspect will be the dendrochronological research.

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Study and restoration of the Sedes Sapientiae of the Church of Saint-Laurent of Séron-sous-Forville (province of Namur)

At the request of the Société archéologique de Namur and the Musée des Arts anciens du Namurois, the Sedes Sapientiae of Séron-sous-Forville (exhibited at the Musée des Arts anciens du Namurois) is undergoing a technological study and conservation-restoration treatment. This sculpture is one of the few Sedes Sapientiae from the 12th century in Belgium that has not undergone drastic alterations in the course of its history. The stratigraphic and topographic study of the polychromy made possible the documentation of the original polychromy; the latter, apart from a few traces, has not survived. The first repaint, dated to the 14th century, is particularly well preserved, but covered by scattered overpaint and colour washes of mediocre quality that disturb the reading of the work. Consequently, it was decided to uncover the first repaint, an operation which is currently taking place.

During this treatment, the sculpture was shown at the BELvue museum as part of an exhibition presenting projects supported by the Courtin-Bouché Fund for the protection of Belgian art over the past 5 years (from 24/06/2009 until 20/09/2009, BELvue museum, Brussels).

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The St Denis Altarpiece of the Collegial church of St Denis in Liège. Study and conservation-restoration.

The Altarpiece with the Passion of Christ and the Life of Saint Denis from the collegial church of Saint Denis in Liège is an exceptional piece of Belgian heritage, due to the quality of the wood carving, the original partial polychromy and its large scale. The altarpiece dates from the beginning of the 16th century and is around 5.20 m in height and 3.25 m in width. It consists of an upper part, the coffer, depicting the Passion of Christ, and a lower part, the predella, representing the Life of St Denis. The painted wings that were originally attached to the coffer were removed at the end of the 18th century.

The conservation project facilitated the study of several facets of the art work in detail. This included structural analysis of the different parts, archive study of the historical interventions, visual and stratigraphical studies of the polychromy, analysis of the paint layers, dendrochronological dating and study of the style of the carving.

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