Monday, December 22, 2014
How far do you go? Chartres' Restoration
There is an account of the restoration of Chartres on NLM,
It has been controversial, there were various fires in the twentieth century that have left the walls blackened, the restorers chose to ignore the 16th century decoration, which was the last time, apart from minor work, that it was redecorated, and returned it to what can be found of its thirteenth century decor.
The problem with all restoration work is should it be done, how much of it should be done, to which period should it be returned to, and what should be destroyed of subsequent in order to return it to what was 'original'.
The other problem is what modern conveniences do you dispense with, how necessary is electric lighting, for example, in a 'restored' Church? The 13th cent work was supposed to be seen in natural light, after all.
Even the famous 'black' Madonna has been restored. How far should restoration go, especially in a living building like a church? There are all those questions about how to maintain the the restoration, do you ban candles and incense and what about heating which seems to do most damage to ancient painting?
What do you do with sculpture for example where there are no clues about the original colouring, or were the sculpture was already decayed before being brought into an ancient building.
How far do you trust 'expert' opinion, and which experts, and what do you do ten years down the road when opinions are revised and your expert's opinion has fallen out of favour.
Does anyone know what is going to happen to the outside of Chartres, is that going to be restored and coloured too.
The restoration of Chartres is a metaphor for the restoration of the Church as a whole, with that perennial Catholic question: How far do you go?
Posted by Fr Ray Blake