RENOVATION OF THE ICONOSTASIS IN THE SERBIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF ST. SPYRIDON IN SKRADIN, REPUBLIC OF CROATIA

The Serbian Orthodox Church of St. Spyridon in Skradin was built in 1878, to the extent encompassed by the main body of the church, and the western part of the church from the front porch and bell towers to the street in 1893. In the architecture of the church we encounter elements of historical styles from Renaissance to Classicism in a Romantic combination, typical for the end of the nineteenth century. In the decoration of the church, and particularly in the concept of the decoration of the iconostasis, is a combination of elements whose origins come from the Romanesque and Gothic to Renaissance and Baroque, the composition and treatment are from the repertoire of Historicism, but one feels the strong influence of the upcoming Secessionism. This new spirit is especially noticeable in the technical processing of materials. The iconography was created at the end of the nineteenth century, with the icons in lavish silver frames, made in Italian workshops. The once rich collection of icons from the old church of St. Spyridon had special value as, besides icons from the first Orthodox Church, it consisted of a large number of valuable icons from the seventeenth to the twentieth century. Because of its cultural, historical and artistic value, St. Spyridon was previously protected as a cultural monuments in Croatia. During the wars in the twentieth century, the church was badly damaged, and all the icons, except the cross of the Crucifixion were relocated. Preconditions for the conservation and restoration work on the iconostasis were met in 2010 with the repair of the roof of the church. On the invitation of Fotije, Bishop of Dalmatia, the team of The Provincial Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments in Petrovaradin carried out a baseline survey on the state of the iconostasis in 2010. Based on this research, a project was developed for the proposed conservation and restoration work on the iconostasis of the church of St. Spyridon in Skradin. Upon approval of the project by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Serbia, with the approval of the Conservation Department of the Ministry of Culture and with the blessing of the Bishop of Dalmatia, conservators of the Provincial Institute performed the works in 2011 and 2012. The work started with the rehabilitation and renovation of the iconostasis panels, which were rebuilt following the original appearance of the colored surfaces and decorative gilding. Reconstruction of the missing parts of the carving was performed on the basis of archival footage and analogies with the preserved original elements. The newly created elements were gilded in gold leaf with respect to the character and look of the original gilding, and all the damaged fragments were also retouched. Based on the appearance of the northern side doors, a new south door, which was missing, was made. The cross of the Crucifixion was restored and conserved. Once the icons were received from the Diocese, restoration was performed on the most vulnerable pieces. This involved the removal of previous inadequate maintenance, and the repair of new damage. Once the iconostasis was renovated, the original icons were returned (except 4 copies of the altar icons which are retained on the iconostasis with the original fittings), thus allowing evaluation and placing of the church on the list of protected cultural property. This project has also enabled the resumption of liturgical activities, and the opening of the church to the public has furthered the promotion of Serbian cultural heritage of Dalmatia. Professional supervision of the works was carried out by the Board for the Protection of Cultural Heritage, Department of Conservation in Sibenik. In addition to the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Serbia, the project was financially supported by the Diocese of Dalmatia and the restaurant Cantinetta in Skradin. The expert team consisted of: art historian Dejan Radovanović; sculptors conservators Rastko Čurčić, Tanja Šajin; painters conservators Mario Vuknić, Jasna Gulan, Miroslav Zakić, Zoran Barišić; carpenters Milan Dejanović, Goran Radaković; documentary photographer: Nedeljko Marković and metal conservation: Lukaći Lajos.