MOTTO: "... I shall raise a column so high and splendid it shall not have an equal in any other town …"

These were the words used by Václav Render, Olomouc master stonemason, to comment on his project for building an honorary column, submitted to the City Council on 29 October 1715.


The honorary Holy Trinity Column occupies a completely exceptional position in Baroque sculptural and architectural production of the first half of the 18th century. Its architectural plan, the extent of its sculptural decoration and its monumentality (height of 35m) have no equal in the European context. Having been built between 1716 -1754, the Olomouc column represents the final example of the real wave of building of similar monuments. In addition, its artistic plan makes it different from all the comparable monuments typical of the urban hearts of European, especially central European, cities (Bohemia, Moravia, Austria, northern parts of Italy, the south of Germany - Bavaria, southern parts of Poland, Slovakia and Hungary). Following the Viennese example, two types of Baroque columns, in particular, were characteristic of the vast majority of the aforementioned countries: Am Hof and Am Graben. With the Olomouc column, however, a completely unique and special conception was pursued, totally different from the notion of the two fundamental types.

An affinity, even though only to a certain extent, can perhaps be found in the case of the Marian column in Naples (Piazza del Gesú Nuovo). Nevertheless, neither its sculptural decoration nor its monumentality can compare to the Olomouc structure. To a certain degree, the same applies to the column in the town of Uničov in the north of Moravia, which ranks among the largest in Central Europe. Apart from the monumental design, the uniqueness of the Olomouc column is enhanced by the totally unusual and unprecedented combination of its material composition - part of the sculptural decoration in stone and part in gilded copper - and consistent employment of larger-than-lifesize figural elements of adornment, as well as the situation of a chapel directly in the body of the column. Furthermore, the Olomouc Trinity Column became truly the most representative manifestation of Baroque religiousness in the Czech-German environment of that time, explicitly pronounced by the building of monuments of such character which were closely linked to the town-planning design of city squares in Central Europe. Equally, its unique character is also intensified by the outstanding artistic level of its very architectural execution as well as its sculptural decoration. Nevertheless, it exemplifies, first and foremost, the most stately culmination of a tradition of more than a hundred years of building similar monuments, as the most characteristic and almost inevitable complements of squares in central European cities in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Neither should its value in purely town-planning terms be omitted - the location of the column in the central part of the square deliberately rounding off the axes of view from all streets leading into the square, thus making the column a natural central point in the living organism of the city. In this respect, the column logically tops off the urban development of the historic core of the city of Olomouc.

From the beginning, or since its completion, as the case may be, awareness of the column´s uniqueness traditionally elicited respect from the city, its inhabitants as well as visitors, and it can be stated that the diminution of originality (entropy of authenticity) is rather minimal. Conservation works were carried out by almost all generations but involved only minor interventions and were rather aimed at removing surface contamination and deposits. The only major intervention was the replacement of one statue of a torch-bearer at the bottom register of the column by an exact copy. The original statue was destroyed in consequence of the war (1945). The partial loss of authenticity is caused only by natural material deterioration and age.

The Trinity column in Olomouc ranks among the unique works in which a triumphal motif, celebrating the church and the faith, is linked with the reality of an art work, combining architectural and town-planning solutions with elaborate sculptural decoration. Particularly in terms of design, it is undoubtedly the most original work of its creator, the Czech artist Václav Render (1669-1733), whose amazing initiative, supported by a generous financial subsidy, made the erection of this monument possible. Together with numerous other local, Moravian artists, he created a work which is quite unique for its extraordinary size as well as the elaborateness and extent of its sculptural decoration, and which has no adequate counterpart in other European cities. At the same time, it exemplifies local patriotism and the quality of the country´s creative potential which, despite language barriers in the mixed Czech-German environment, united its forces to build a stately monument. The central ideas of this financially extremely demanding construction were a strong relationship with the city, the tradition of Czech citizens´ self-confidence and an emphasis on the main values assumed by people of the Baroque period, placing considerable stress on religious awareness.

In this respect, the Trinity column is an example of the culmination of not only artistic but, first and foremost, religious and civic sentiments, an outstanding specimen, traditionally repeated in a variety of simplified versions in a great number of places throughout Central Europe. Similarly, it becomes, in this sense, evidence of a cultural and religious tradition, the continuity of which formed foundations for this country´s, Czech-German culture, and which, nowadays, also constitutes a platform for contemporary culture in the Czech environment.

Together with other monuments - six Baroque fountains and another Marian column - coming into existence in Olomouc in the same period, the Trinity column comprises a complex, significant as an example of a comprehensive solution of inner city planning. It is where architectural and town-planning values combine with purely artistic ones, which are, as a whole, determined by the intellectual trends of the time. While the building of fountains with largely mythological decoration emphasizes the civic administration of the city and its civic, municipal character, the building of ecclesiastical monuments underlines a religious tradition, and from the viewpoint of Baroque people, explicitly reflects the crucial humanistic value of the Baroque period in Central Europe. In this respect, the whole complex of Olomouc Baroque structures, unequivocally dominated by the Trinity column, represents not only an outstanding artistic monument, but, above all, a monument of general cultural and historical significance, which resounds with an ideal form of the Baroque thinking of that time.

As regards the Trinity column, its existence can be perceived as a manifestation of extraordinary religious reverence. Owing to its uniqueness, monumental dimensions and artistic execution, it can be referred to, at the same time, as a religious monument of world-wide importance.



In essence, the basic ground plan of the Trinity column is derived from a circular area, 17 metres in diameter. From the circular base, furnished with 18 peripheral guard stones connected by a forged chain, rises a staircase consisting of seven steps on the top of which is the column´s first level, its ground plan basically following a hexagonal lay-out. The first level comprises a small chapel with, again, a circular ground plan, and on the outside, at the points of the hexagon, is furnished with six conical balustrades, all of them topped with a pair of fire vases and two putti torch-bearers (all together 12 infant figures - torch-bearers - approx. 150 cm in height). At the points of the hexagon, again, supported by six massive pedestals richly decorated on three sides by masonry details, such as scrolls and acanths, the first six larger-than-lifesize statues of saints (approx. 220-240 cm) adjoin the body of the chapel on the first level. As a whole, the first level is richly decorated with motifs of fluted pilasters, ribbon motifs, conches, relief cartouches with semi-figures of apostles and other masonry details. The same pattern is consistently repeated in both the second and third levels. The second level keeps to the ground plan of the first, and is crowned by the second group of six larger-than-lifesize statues of saints, placed on isolated pedestals. The first level tops the base of the column. It slightly recedes towards the centre, its periphery furnished again with six massive pedestals carrying the third row of six larger-than-lifesize saints, another row of six relief semi-figures of apostles, and rich masonry decoration. This base of the third level supports a monolithic pillar 10 m in height, richly decorated with fluting and acanth motifs. In the first third of the monolith is mounted the sculptural group of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary - the female figure of the Virgin Mary is carried by a pair of angels. Again, the group is executed on a larger-than-lifesize scale, in gilded copper. On the top of the pillar-monolith itself, crowned by a capital featuring scroll and acanth motifs, there is a group of God the Father, giving a blessing, and Christ with the cross, both placed on a globe, with the figure of the archangel Michael below. The entire structure is completed by a radial target-star with a dove in the centre to symbolize the Holy Spirit. Once more, the whole top group is created on a larger-than-lifesize scale in wrought and gilded copper. The total height of the Trinity column is 31 m.



The honorary Holy Trinity Column is included in the Programme for Regeneration of Urban Conservation Areas. This programme included a comprehensive examination of the sculptural group in 1997. This revealed the necessity for immediate conservation intervention. In 1998, bids were invited for the selection of a contractor but owing to the lengthy appellate proceedings, the tender was not concluded until 1999.


Comprehensive Examination and Analyses

A comprehensive examination of the Holy Trinity Column was carried out in 1997, assessing the state of the sculptural group.

The objectivity and professional level of the examinations was guaranteed by the State Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Heritage in Prague in cooperation with the Bavarian Institute for Conservation in Munich. On completion of these examinations, a professional workshop for both experts and the general public was held (March 1997). The original comprehensive documentation is kept at The Department of Conception and Development of Olomouc Local Authority, Horní náměstí 1, 771 27 Olomouc.


  • Examination of the rocks used, Jan Bárta, Jiří Rathouský, Jan Šrámek, 1997
  • Report on structural and building analysis, Martin Janeček, 1997
  • Conservation survey of the wrought copper statues, Ivan Houska, 1997
  • Partial examination in terms of natural sciences, including:
    • Structure polychromy examination
    • Stone salinity determination
    • Research on stone biocorrosion
    • Research conducted by I. Maxová, J. Váňa, M. Váňová in Watrex analytical laboratory, 1997
  • Geological survey, Pavel Vavrda, 1997
  • Conservation survey of stone items, Ladislav Werkmann, 1997
  • Sources, literature, iconography, Martin Elbel, 1997
  • Art history research, Gabriela Elbelová, 1997
  • Ultrasound transmission, Karol Bayer, Tatjana Bayerová, 1997
  • Photogrammetric survey - 3 views in total, B. Kunftová, 1997 and 1998

The examination results which serve as a platform for the conservation intervention are enclosed.



Protection of a cultural heritage property aspiring for such inclusion must be addressed in a manner which will meet the most rigorous criteria for both theoretical and practical aspects of the conservation of cultural heritage properties.

The last general conservation of the Column was conducted from 1972 to 1975, i.e. a quarter of a century ago. After such a period of time, the conservation theory automatically presumes the necessity for conservation intervention, especially when the ongoing maintenance and protection of the cultural heritage property is not ideal.

In addition, there has of late been a substantial change in ideas concerning the conservation process as well as technologies for both conservation surveys and conservation interventions. These have acquired a purely scientific platform by switching from empirical, not always optimum, procedures to exact methods, using the latest technology.

Therefore, the State Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Heritage (SICCH) came up with the initiative to conduct an examination aimed at the comprehensive assessment of the property. This initiative met with an understanding by the later examination investor, the Olomouc Local Authority. SICCH provided methodical documentation and ongoing professional consultations. This project was also assisted by the Bavarian Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Heritage in Munich which has broad experience with similar comprehensive examinations and promised to carry out counter-expertise.

The main objective of the examination was to compile the most detailed body of materials to provide a practical starting point for the necessary conservation intervention in the future, including assessment of the current technical state of the property, compilation of all written as well as tangible sources available, drawing-up of the expertise, necessary for making decisions concerning the manner in which the conservation intervention should proceed, including a draft project for the intervention with an indication of potential alternatives, and last but not least, estimated costs of the conservation.

Another, secondary objective of the examination is the possibility of presenting comprehensive knowledge of the property to the professional as well as general public in various forms, such as exhibitions, publication in both professional and popular periodicals or in a specialized book issued for this purpose, and a professional seminar following the completion of the examination. This would mean procedure for making the city of Olomouc more visible in the field of conservation of cultural heritage properties.

The basic methodical document was the invitation for bids in which the required partial examinations were specified.

The general invitation presumed examinations involving the humanities and social sciences (review of archives, analysis in terms of art history) and examinations involving the natural sciences and technologies. As the project proceeded, the original single general conservation examination was divided into two separate parts - stone conservation and metal conservation.

Supporting materials available at the beginning of the examination works included a photogrammetric survey of the Column (by B.Kunftová and J. Chmelíř) and a detailed review of archives (by Martin Elbel).

The final report on the comprehensive conservation of the Vienna plague column, carried out from 1980 to 1981, provided methodical guidance. (Restauratorenbläter Band 6, zum Thema Die Wiener Pestsäule, Vienna, November 1982). The principle difference is, however, that in our case the examination only brings up certain issues and suggestions to be dealt with in the future, while the Viennese study provides information on the entire project. It is also necessary to take into consideration the time period in which the account of the Vienna column came into being as the research methods as well as perception of scores of problems have undergone considerable changes since then.


The individual partial examinations were conducted as follows:


Research in terms of art history (Gabriela Elbelová)

Using the results from the archive review, Elbelová characterizes the sculptural decoration, compares the original Render´s intention with the actual implementation. From the viewpoint of a conservation worker, the main contribution of this work can be seen in the identification and assessment of unoriginal parts and complements of individual figures and their attributes which can serve as supporting material for making decisions concerning issues such as their preservation, their replacement with more suitable complements and restoration of the original state.


Examination of the rocks used (Jan Bárta, Jiří Rathouský and Jan Šrámek)

The exact chemical and physical methods of this examination, such as survey of salt content, heat and moisture expansion, high-pressure mercury porosimetry, petrographic and laboratory research, microscopic section studies and X-ray structural microanalysis, make it possible to determine and characterize the materials used as well as additions and consequences of various impacts at a higher and more objective level than could have been done by means of high-quality visual examination carried out by the most experienced practitioner. By applying these methods, it is possible to distinguish materials which are very similar in terms of both macroscopy and microscopy and identify the presence of heterogenous substances which can cause damage to the work even in such concentrations as cannot be identified by common and perfunctory methods. Moreover, the study suggests technical procedures which are suitable or necessary for future conservation intervention, with particular stress on materials of Czech provenance.

The examination arrives at the general conclusion that apart from surface chemical damage variable mechanical damage also exists. Some parts affected by such damage have been repaired in the past. The most serious defects are cracks in stone blocks belonging to statues at the third level which the examination report refers to as being in a state of emergency.


The geological survey (Pavel Vavrda)

examined the geological conditions in the Column subbase, investigated the quality of the substructure and the depth of the Column foundation, and reports the research on conditions concerning site groundwater. The results of this survey have relevance particularly in connection with the following survey, namely the Report on Structural and Building Analysis (Martin Janeček). Using exact methods followed by subsequent calculations, both surveys together study the statical conditions of the honorary Column. One surprising finding was that the substructure for the entire Column does not exceed two metres in depth and the substructure itself is not very good. Despite these findings the surveys arrive at the satisfactory conclusion that the Column structure, especially its load-bearing parts, shows no major statical failure which is a finding of great importance with respect to the proposed conservation intervention as well as the future regime for the entire monument.


Ultrasound transmission (Karol and Tatjana Bayer, the Litomyšl School of Conservation)

is a method which can assess the overall condition of the work´s material in a non-destructive manner. In particular, it can identify the existence of inner hidden flaws and degradation of stone, including their depth and extent.This facilitates a truly comprehensive, precisely aimed, optimum conservation intervention while eliminating the risk that the conservation of individual parts will be too invasive or, on the contrary, inadequate. Representative samples of statues were examined in places accessible from the scaffolding. It is presumed that the condition of the other, unexamined, statues will correspond to the results for the samples examined.


The partial examination in terms of natural sciences (I. Maxová, SICCP)

includes a microscopic analysis of colour and metal coatings of the surface, determination of salt content in the stone and examination of its biodegradation, i.e. stone deterioration by vegetating organisms. At the same time it draws up a brief concept of the possible course for the conservation work.


Conservation survey of wrought copper statues (Ivan Houska, 1997)

The objective of this survey was to determine the extent of damage and, first and foremost, causes. The technology used for the production of the statues was studied and the results were used to deduce suggestions for potential ways of conservation. The most important findings of the survey include the fact that the statues have never been removed from the Column. Generally, the structure of all three units was found to be corroded and insufficiently protected by coating. The same applies to bonding materials as well as to the copper cladding of the statues. Earlier repairs were not always carried out at an adequate professional level. The condition of the statue of Archangel Gabriel, can be referred to as in a state of emergency. There is the danger of its breaking off and being destroyed. The author presents a conservation plan comprising two alternatives. The first version considers dismounting the statues and their complete conservation while the second takes into account removal of only the most heavily damaged statue of Archangel Gabriel, the cleaning and repair of the other two groups in their places. (Note: From the perspective of a stone conservation worker it appears very likely that the top sculptural group of the Holy Trinity would have to be taken down as well, as there are signs of cracks in the column capital which can be thoroughly checked only after the group has been dismounted.)


The survey of the stone (Ladislav Werkmann)

Employing a comprehensive analytical method involving texts, photographs and drawings, the survey of the stone (Ladislav Werkmann) examines the state of individual parts of the architecture and the sculptural decoration of the Column and includes a draft of the conservation process. He also seeks to find possible solutions to the issue of the extent and optimum form of unoriginal complements which is likely to be a crucial point when deciding which "conservation philosophy" should be adopted.


The materials produced by this examination are the most comprehensive and consistent body of research material on a stone monument ever compiled in this country. We hope that the experience acquired throughout the entire project as well as the organizational, methodical and professional problems we had to deal with will assist similar comprehensive examinations on other significant cultural heritage properties.

In the course of the research a need arose to gather more data adding to the basic partial examinations to complement the body of information.Thus a study assessing the meteorological situation in Olomouc in the past 30 years was incorporated here. This indicates that the meteorological conditions in Olomouc do not deviate from the average given by our geographical location and, accordingly, do not have unusual impact on the state of the sculptural group. The examination also incorporated a report on altimetric conditions - figured dimensions of the Column - stating that the Column has a total height of 31,19 metres. It was also decided to include here materials compiled by doc. Togner as a part of the UNESCO nomination document, as they represent the best-arranged characteristics of the whole Column.

The art history analysis was additionally supplemented with a characterisics of the chapel interior and a brief outline of Ondřej Zahner´s work.

The conclusions of the entire examination can be very briefly summarized in the following main points:

The statical conditions of the architectural part of the Trinity Column in its entirety are basically intact and do not require any specific measures. The condition of the seven stone statues of saints - i.e. all six statues at the third level (St. Anna, St. John the Baptist, St. Jerome, St. Lawrence, St. Joseph and St. Joachim) and the statue of St. Florian at the first level - needs to be referred to as being in a state of emergency. In their bottom parts, these statues show marked cracks due to the corroded iron she bolt. Signs of ruptures are also apparent at the capital of the top column into which the top copper sculptures are anchored.

A state of emergency was also found in the structure of the copper statue of Archangel Gabriel, beneath the top sculptural group of the Holy Trinity, some parts of which, such as wings and limbs, threaten to break off and thus result in its total destruction. Other two copper sculptural groups are in relatively better shape but considering the fact that during the entire existence of the Column their iron structures have never been replaced, it is not possible to guarantee their perfect condition.

As all major failures occur particularly in the upper part of the Trinity Column, it is obvious that if one of the statues were to collapse and fall down, it would, considering the pyramid shape of the whole sculpture, cause heavy damage to the decoration at the lower sections. However, this implies danger to the safety of both the pedestrian and road traffic in the vicinity of the Trinity Column as, hitting the ground after falling from a height of almost thirty metres, a statue would break into pieces which would scatter.

The other parts of the Trinity Column, especially the architectural parts, are in a relatively good condition. Nevertheless, they are covered with crusts and deposits, the softer parts of the sandstone are disintegrated on the surface, and in some places this includes contours. Here it is important to carry out a general maintenance-type conservation intervention involving, primarily, reinforcement, cleaning and conservation of the stone, revision of the earlier conservation interventions and their methods (in some cases leaving the current state of affairs, in other cases replacing seals, bonding agents and complements).



General characteristics of the current state

If we are to make overall assessment of the Column and its damage, we can basically take a textbook on conservation and copy the whole chapter dealing with stone deterioration. There is hardly any type of deterioration which will not be found on the Trinity Column.

If we are to be more specific, the negative influences include chemical, biological and physical factors and a combination thereof. At a more general level, they are as follows:

  • fluctuation in temperature (frost x sunshine)
  • water in all states of aggregation (leaking, capillary elevation)
  • atmospheric fall-out (acid rain, exhalations)
  • conservation interventions (both chemical and mechanical)
  • stone quality (material defects)
  • biological impacts (biocorrosion, birds)
  • mechanical damage (vandalism, war events)
  • metal corrosion (iron couplings, bolts, reinforcements)

There is, after all, one type of damage which does not occur on the Trinity Column, fortunately, techniques widely used in other places, such as cutting across, dabbing and other eyesores of this kind, were not applied here to "improve" the stone surface. Thus, the original sculptor´s style was retained in its completeness.

The Column bears traces of numerous previous conservation interventions. Apart from minor works, having rather the character of maintenance or elimination of the consequences of specific damage (such as damage due to war events), the general repairs were carried out in 1834 (by Karel Melnitzky, repair 45 years after the previous one), then in 1926 (by Václav Janoušek, a repair after 47 years) and finally from 1972 to 1975 (by Josef Stárek and Karel Lenhart, 46 years from the last general repair).

Although, in comparison with previous repairs, it has not been very long since the last restoration, the condition of the sculptural group is so serious that, knowing the conclusions of the examinations, it is no exaggeration to refer to the state of the property as one of emergency.

One of the major reasons, we believe, is the fact that all previous repairs focused on surface interventions, involving "maintenance" methods, aimed at eliminating the consequences of damage, not its causes.

An interesting aspect of the previous repairs is also the fact that all recent stone inserts have dramatically weathered dramatically more than the older original material.

To provide specific documentation of the most serious damage to individual parts of the Column, it was decided to use, apart from textual characteristics, stated in a well-arranged list, including at the same time a proposal for the required conservation intervention (see below), an illustrative way of colour entries into the graphic depiction of statues. These drawings are part of the photographic documentation. We will focus on the following items:

  • stone inserts and sculptural additions
  • patent stone bonding agents
  • original inserts
  • missing parts
  • weathered places
  • ruptures
  • metal corrosion

The Museum of Local History and Geography in Olomouc was contacted in relation to the research, as its collection contains scores of objects directly associated with the Column.

First and foremost, a 86-centimetre high model of the Column, constructed by Ignatius Paul in 1766, and now part of the museum exposition. Despite its size, it was important for our purposes since, at least in some cases, it was possible to retrace changes, such as hand gesture and attributes, which were made to individual statues in the course of time.

Close examination of the model resulted in the curious finding that the latter no longer reflects the actual Column as it appears today. Following moving, cleaning and minor repairs carried out at various times, the statues, for example, may have been reset in wrong places or turned half-circle. In this way, the conservation survey may also be an instigation for museum workers to correct this state of affairs and restore the true form of the entire Column to its original.

In addition, the museum depository includes a torso of one of two angels - torchbearers - which were damaged by splinters during the bombardment of Olomouc in 1945 and replaced by Vojtěch Hořínek´s copies during the 1947 repair. The statue kept in the museum is in a very bad shape. It has no face and bears traces of a great deal of mechanical damage.

The largest collection associated with the Column are plaster casts of the Column figural decoration which were made in 1944 in case of war damage or destruction to the Column itself. During the half-century since the forms were removed, some of the casts have deteriorated considerably and others cannot be recovered in the extensive depository. Copies of all the statues of the saints, part of both exterior and interior relief decoration and a proportion of the statues of angels - torchbearers - have been discovered in the museum. Despite its incompleteness, the whole collection is a valuable source of information about the shapes of certain detail contours added or replaced during the three post-war conservations, including hands and fingers, lance points, and facial details such as noses. It must be pointed out, however, that with plaster casts it is not always easy to decide whether they are original forms, later additions, or even older versions than the current ones.




There are two types of mechanical erosion affecting copper sheet, firstly, the corrosion of the brass used as spelter for joining the individual parts. And this appears to me as the most critical problem. Due to the degradation of spelter, the joints open, resulting in water penetration of the statues and this, naturally, decreases the resistance and integrity of the unit. Wires used for "seeming", fall off too, leaving small holes alongside the joints (see the photo documentation).

Secondly, there are ruptures and cracks outside the joints resulting from either external mechanical damage, such as bullet-shots, or due to residual stress and fatigue (brittling) exacerbated by the dynamic motion of individual parts caused by factors such as heat expansion and wind.

The statues bear scores of patches from several repairs implemented a considerable time ago. During the 1926 restoration alone, approximately ninety patches were noted. The patches are riveted, screwed, tin brazed and oxy-gas welded. In terms of workmanship, some are very well done, others shamelessly slapdash.

Asphalt, various bonding agents and resins were used to seal joints. Despite the fact that the gold on the copper surface is for the most part unbelievably well-preserved after so many years, the copper surface is badly corroded. On the most exposed upper parts, however, gold plating has been preserved only sporadically and there is already a solid layer of light patina. The corrosive decrease in copper due to patina build-up is not extensive with respect to the overall thickness of the materials used (0,15 mm in hundred years is indicated for city environment). Although the gold plating is well preserved, the vertical surfaces have large numbers of minor flaws where pit copper corrosion due to the impact of a gold-copper macrocell occurs.. The corrosive decrease in these places is much higher than that with the patina build-up on open surfaces. The bottom parts, mostly those with a terrace blind effect, are covered with dust and salt deposits. They are dark coloured but the gold plating under the dark crust can be preserved. However, here we face a problem resulting from the last conservation intervention carried out in the 1970s when the so-called "conservation worker" painted statues viewed from below yellow and the question arises as to what technique he or she used to prepare the base for application of paint and to what extent he damaged the original gilding by such "conditioning".



The sculptures can be seen as three separate units: the group featuring the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, Gabriel and the top group.

The structure of all three groups is corroded, insufficiently protected by coating and, in addition, on the interface with copper, the corrosion is increased by an iron - copper macrocell. The same applies to the bonding material utilized on joints. We also need to consider the fact that the places I assessed are logically the places which were treated in 1926 and thus draw the conclusion that the untreated structures in inaccessible parts of the sculptures, must be in very bad condition.

At the time of the origin of the sculptures, people did not concern themselves unduly with statical calculations concerning structural design for tying into the Column. However, my research suggests they used much of the time common sense and tended to overdesign supporting members to be on the safe side. Despite this fact, the statics of the sculptures are not completely intact. We can surmise the design and the manner of the tying from drawings, from photo documentation, and of the size of sculptures from the enclosed xerox copies of stereophotogrammetric pictures of the whole groups. These are modified to scale 1 : 20. The estimated weight of one figure is 100 - 150 kg. Relatively, the Assumption group is in the best shape. Its main girders are covered with copper cladding and are in a good condition. Only the upper girder of the right angel is corroded where it penetrates through the copper cladding into the side. With this sculptural group, there is no danger of collapse of the entire group, nor any of its parts.

In contrast, the condition of Archangel Gabriel is the worst. With both structural and supporting members attacked by corrosion, I conclude that it is in a state of emergency. In case of heavier loads, such as wet snow or a gust of wind, the corroded girders can break off and the sculpture could be destroyed, albeit it would not fall down as it is secured by two protective hooks. Nevertheless, it would most likely suffer deformation and parts, such as a wing for example, could dislodge. The main reason for this state of emergency is insufficient sealing with shading plates, preventing birds from entering the interior of the sculpture. In the course of several years, birds can fill the inside with excrement, straw, string and other particles which will create, together with water leaking in, an ideal environment for structural corrosion.

The main girders of the top sculptural group are embedded vertically in the Column capital. Probably during the 1926 repair, the girder shoes were filled with new concrete and shaped in such a way that water penetrating the sculptures could escape down the Column capital. Even though the girders are corroded, however, this corrosion does not absolutely affect the statics of the statues, only some of its smaller parts. Ruptures in the capital were found when examining the stone body of the Column. Although, naturally, this reaches beyond the competence of my assessment, it should be noted, taking into consideration the size of the top sculptural group and thus the area exposed to gusty winds, that the stone corrosion and cracks in the Column capital could even result in the fall of the group onto the town square.



The main reason for the destruction of the copper sculptures is corrosion, namely in the following forms:

  1. corrosion of iron structure, increased by Fe - Cu macrocell
    affects statics of statues

  2. corrosion of copper cladding of statues, accelerated by Cu - Au macrocell
    in the long run reduces the life of statues

  3. corrosion of brass used as spelter
    permits leakeage of water into the statues, thus advancing corrosion of structure, affects resistance and integrity of copper cladding and damages gold plating


Structural analysis of sculptures:

  • in terms of statics the Assumption group is intact
  • the condition of Archangel Gabriel can be referred to as in a state of emergency
  • the top sculptural group is not jeoperdized by the corroded structure but by ruptures affecting resistance of the Column capital




The definition of the conception must be based on several general principles which will become a methodology of the whole conservation intervention.

It is essential to select a procedure which will not impair previous conservation interventions that can be considered well-done, which will be sensitive to the monument and will not interfere with the original artist´s idea.

Each statue as well as particular architectural parts will be approached individually. At the same time, however, the entirety of the structure will be taken into consideration. The team of conservation workers will proceed in a consistent way so that, for example, different technological approaches to particular components, worked upon by different team members, can be ruled out.

A Alternative - considered optimum and dealt with in detail in a project for the conservation intervention. Its objective is the comprehensive conservation of both the sculptural decoration and architecture, including dismounting of those parts of the sculptural decoration which are heavily damaged and the statics of which is in a state of emergency. These statues will be conserved in a studio and replaced on the Column. The secondary complements and attributes will be checked and, following consultation with and approval by bodies concerned with the conservation of cultural heritage, those unsuitable from both aesthetic and historic points of view will be replaced. Newly fashioned complements will be made of materials corresponding to the original - Mladejov sandstone. The copper statues will not be completely regilded but the gold plating preserved will be respected and repaired with retouches.

Finally, we may be asked to comment on the issue of plans for making copies of the statues and installing them on the Honorary Column instead of the originals. We reject this alternative as it is in conflict with art history perspectives and the conservation of cultural heritage and, in addition, would be very costly. Furthermore, the state of statues is not serious enough for technical reasons to justify the production of copies.

The maximum retention of the surface authenticity is the fundamental principle of the suggested alternative. The survey proved that the artist´s style has not been impaired by later cutting across and surface treatments (with the exception of the chapel interior which appears to have been resharpened during the stripping of paint). This positive fact must be respected to the greatest possible extent.

All interventions to the property are to be conducted with the greatest respect for its essence to prevent any loss of original material. Adequate attention is to be paid to implementation of the conservation intervention at each particular statue as well as architectural unit, with respect to those changes of their historical forms which can be considered being of special value and quality.

Potential new replacement of missing parts and details are generally very sensitive matters which need to be dealt with in close cooperation with professionals - art historians and experts in conservation of cultural heritage. In general, substitution will be considered suitable only in certain specifically justified cases. Partial reconstruction interventions should be carried out only in such a way that, in terms of the general impression of the statues, unification of their composition will be assured. They may be taken into consideration in instances where the original, or even later well-preserved forms, such as the model or the plaster casts in the museum, are acknowledged. Cases where a sculptor´s variant of a statue (e.g. St. John the Baptist in Mitrovice) is known, can be also considered under certain circumstances.

All the materials to be used must be selected in such a way that maximum possible degree of reversibility as well as their chemical, physical and visual stability is ensured.

All the technologies and materials employed during the conservation must be well-tested and verified in practise and have the required certification. In addition, they must comply with the appropriate Czech National Standard. Certificates issued for the materials used will be included in the final conservation report.

All additional tests of materials and technologies will be carried out to verify their suitability for specific applications to the work to be conserved, while taking into account the above-stated principle. This is the case with anticorrosive inhibitors in particular. These tests will be conducted in laboratories of the State Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Heritage or, as the case may be, VŠCHT (College of Chemical Technologies) in Prague. When directly applied to the property, sample procedures will be implemented locally, on small areas of visually unexposed parts.



Final Impact of the Work after Implementation of the Conservation Action

The resulting aesthetic impression will refer to the age of the property and the character of the natural material - sandstone, combined with gilded copper of the central sculptures at the top. The sculptor´s original style will be faithfully maintained.

Following the conservation, the cultural property will function as a unit with its unimpaired age patina, in terms of its aesthetic impact. The parts affected by mechanical damage will be sealed and treated in such a way so as to blend with the surrounding original material. The shallow excrescences will be kept. The metal statues will not be completely regilded. The gilding will be retouched which will enhance the harmonic impression of the entire Honorary Column.

By sensitive application of chemical preparations the long-term resistance of stone to further corrosion will be assured.


Plan for Presentation of Cultural Values and Utilization of the Cultural Property:

As the conservation of the Honorary Column is a project which, even now in the stage of preparations, draws considerable attention of especially the Olomoc public, it is essential to provide systematic information on this project which at the time of its implementation will undoubtedly be one of the most significant conservation interventions in the territory of the Czech Republic.

During the conservation process, we will continually focus on common publicity concerning the progress of work supported by mass media. This will concern completion of individual stages and particularly those stages which are apparent and draw the attention of the public, i.e. dismounting and reinstallment of particular statues. We expect special involvement of the Olomouc editorial offices of local and national periodicals and regional television.

An exposition on progress of the conservation (featuring news, photographic documentation, various relicts and technological samples), established in the vicinity of the Honorary Column (preferably in a shop window in one of the houses on the square) could provide an important source of information both for professionals and the general public. This exposition should be under way during the entire time of the conservation and can be changed according to the current progress of the work. The conservation team will be responsible for the content of as well as a suitable venue for such an exposition.

On completion of the conservation we suggest that a seminar on the conservation of the Honorary Column be held for the professional public. Alternatively, the Column could be taken as a basic topic and the event could deal with stone conservation in general. We expect to collaborate on this with, first and foremost, the Olomouc Local Authority and professional organizations, including the Prague SICCH, the Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Heritage in Olomouc and the Olomouc Museum of Art.

With respect to the significance of the Honorary Column in the context of Baroque art in the territory of the Czech Republic, we put into consideration the possibility of issuing a special edition of the bulletin Report on Conservation of Cultural Heritage (Zprávy památkové péče), in cooperation with experts from SICCH). If this is not possible for some reason, we expect this professional periodical to feature articles on the project presented by professionals from the area of the conservation of cultural heritage in cooperation with the conservation personnel.

Considering the far-reaching nature of visual media, we suggest that a detailed documentary is filmed about the progress of the conservation. This document will be a result of ongoing filming which will be under way throughout the conservation work. Parts of this filming may serve as TV shots as well as a video material for the purpose of the information exhibition (see above). This ongoing filmed material will be processed into a 25-minute documentary which will be filed but will be also available to the city of Olomouc and media, both in the Czech republic and abroad. The realization of such documentary has been provisionally negotiated with A-STUDIO in Ostrava.

The Renova exhibition focused on the renovation and conservation of cultural heritage properties and held for the first time last year, included the exposition of the Olomouc Local Authority featuring the planned conservation of the Honorary Holy Trinity Column. We have collaborated with the Olomouc Local Authority on its display and also participated in the exhibition with our own exposition. Given our positive experience here, we expect to participate next year.

We also consider the final conservation report to be a part of the promotion concerning the conservation of the Column. It will outreach standard reports of the kind and will be drawn up in such a way that, if required, its modified version could be published.