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The restoration project on the ceramic icon of St. Theodore Stratelates has been successfully completed

25.09.2015
The successfully restored ceramic icon of St. Theodore from Veliki Preslav will be put on display at the Middle Ages Hall of the National Archaeological Museum on September 29th, 2015. The icon, which is a part of the permanent exhibition of NAIM at BAS, is a cultural value of national and worldwide importance dating from the Golden Age of the Bulgarian medieval culture.

The icon has a completely new look consistent with the current requirements for restoration and conservation activities, and exposition criteria. The new look differs greatly from the previous one which is already familiar to the public due to participating in many international and national exhibitions, numerous scholarly publications, history books, etc.

The restoration of the icon was accomplished under the project for restoration and technological expertise, with the financial support of the American Research Center in Sofia and America for Bulgaria Foundation. The project was carried out in the Laboratory for Analyses, Conservation and Restoration of NAIM at BAS. The project team was composed of: Dr. Daniela Cherneva, project manager; Sevdalina Neykova, Laboratory for Analyses, Conservation and Restoration of NAIM at BAS, PhD student of Technische Universität München and Prof. Ivana Eneva, National Academy of Art.

The project activities were implemented in 2014-2015 being provoked by the assessment of the critical state of the icon as a result of bad restoration done in 1912 and followed by frequent transportation outside Bulgaria. Cleaning and removing traces of the previous conservation interventions in the ceramic fragments composing the icon were carried out under the project, thus obtaining a more authentic look. Subsequently, they were mounted on a specially designed steady, vibration-proof, but light enough base. Many analyses were also made using a variety of methods – optical microscopy and X-ray fluorescence analysis, in order to clarify the structure and technology of production of the icon. Since new fragments found during archaeological research of the “St. Panteleimon” monastery at Patleina locality have been proved to belong to the currently known image of St. Theodore, they were added to the icon.

The new look of the icon and the size of the supporting base are consistent with the canonical iconographic proportions of half-length portraits of saints giving an account of the results of up-to-date research of the monumental ceramic icons from Preslav.

The project for restoration, technological research and display of the ceramic icon of St. Theodore from Veliki Preslav includes multimedia presentation of the history of the cultural value, the iconography and restoration process, which can also be seen in the Middle Ages Hall of the National Archaeological Museum.