Fragments of Unique Painting Discovered

Jūlija Madernieka krāsojumi pēc restaurācijas

Unique pieces of decorative painting made by hand of Julijs Madernieks (Jūlijs Madernieks) dating from the beginning of the last century, which were accidentally discovered during restoration work in the premises of the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Latvia, are now restored.

Polychrome wall painting, made in the style of national romanticism, which was performed about the twenties of the last century, was discovered in the course of the study, which had been carried out by specialists of the enterprise AS “Būvuzņēmums Restaurators” in the fireplace hall of the ministry by request of the state enterprise VAS “Valsts nekustamie īpašumi” (VNĪ). Fragments of unique decorative painting have been discovered after the dismantling of built-in chairs and separate wooden panels.

Paintings by Julijs Madernieks After Restoration 010

In Soviet times, in the building of modern Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Latvia (Riga, 11a Kr. Valdemara Street), there was a society for community with compatriots abroad. Its activities were in the focus of the State Security Committee (KGB). During this period the walls of the fireplace hall had been repainted many times, and historical decorative painting was hidden under two (and in some places – even three) layers of lime and oil paint. Therefore, initially restorers did not even suspect what was hiding there. And only thanks to the careful study conducted by the restorer Inese Ozolina (Inese Ozoliņa), it came to light that polychrome paintings made by Julijs Madernieks in exceptionally elegant technique were preserved under these somewhere carelessly applied paint layers. These were partially restored in the process of restoration.

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“Upon completion of the restoration work, part of the historical painting fragments have been exhibited in a special exhibition area, which is included in the whole hall interior and is located at the entrance door of the fireplace hall. It can now be seen by every visitor of the Ministry of Culture. But some fragments have been preserved for future generations and hidden for many decades under the wall wood trim of the fireplace hall. These fragments, unfortunately, can only be seen in the images that were created during the restoration works performed. We are happy to offer the general public to take a look at them, in our turn,” explains Chairman of the Board of the enterprise AS “Būvuzņēmums Restaurators” Mareks Mamajs, adding that unique paintwork by Julijs Madernieks is not the only interesting thing in this project. “The historic fireplace, parquet and room ceiling with all the decorative elements was restored, as well as a very interesting restoration of wall wooden trim panels, decorated with tapestries and fragments of small paintings, was performed. In fact, it rarely happens that in a relatively small space in one place so diverse restoration work must be carried out. In my opinion, in this case, it was done by very cohesive and professional team of restorers,” he adds.

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Julijs Madernieks (1870-1955) was not only bright Latvian painter, interior designer, teacher and art critic of his times, but also founder of the national romanticism style school in Latvian art. In the mid-twenties of the last century Madernieks worked on solution of the interior of administrative type, in which he designed decorative ornamental ceiling and wall paintings in accordance to the task set and the representative nature of the premises.


(Restorer of the AS “Būvuzņēmums Restaurators” Inese Ozolina)

Ornamental paintings combined with the restrained official solution of space equipment items contributed their main accent. Needless to say that this period of the artist’s creative work obviously corresponds to what has been currently found and restored in the premises of Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Latvia.

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