The conservation of the painting with the depiction of Madonna and Child of Cracow Hodegetria type from church in Przyłęk Szlachecki. The reconstruction of the background based on existing grounds

Author: Maja Potrawiak
Mentor: Anna Sękowska, PhD

Department of Conservation and Restoration of Works of Art; Jan Matejko Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków (Poland)
Study programme: Conservation and Restoration of Works of Art MA Programme
Specialization: Paintings (6th year of study)


POTRAWIAK MajaCracow Hodegetria type painting is an example of the phenomenon of a widespread repetition of one image that in such scale is uncommon in the history of art. The original, probably not preserved until today, was imported to Poland in the end of 15th century. The painting from the church in Przyłęk Szlachecki dated circa 1500 that is discussed in this presentation is an example of its copy. Its study and conservation was carried as a part of the master thesis at Jan Matejko Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow under the guidance of Anna Sękowska (PhD). The research revealed a complete overpainting of the image. The main issue was the 19th century background with chess board ornament due to its discordant style with no artistic values. Gathered information led to the complex intervention aiming to unveil the original painting layer and remove the later background. During the process, the traces of the original design of the background drawn on the panel were uncovered. This disclosure, along with an exemplar of the ornament from the painting from Chomentów created in the same workshop, served as the key indications for the reconstruction of the background in its possible original shape.

Short biography

MAJA POTRAWIAK  (Cracow, 14th July 1992) started studying the Conservation and Restoration of Art study on the Academy of Fine Arts in Cracow in 2011. Due to excellent results received the Rector's scholarship for the best students of whole Academy of Fine Arts. Have been involved in various projects improving practical skills of an art restorer. Coordinated an international student’s conference on conservation and restoration of art held by the Academy of Fine Arts in Cracow. Also delivered there the speech "A reconstruction of historical painting techniques using beeswax as a binding medium – on the basis of a water soluble emulsion of beeswax and linseed oil potassium soap" that was the result of extracurricular interests and effort greatly inspired by the idea of independent scientific pursuit. Participated in the organization of the International Conference Lacona XI 2016 as a volunteer. In professional life would love to be more engaged into conservation of wooden paintings.