Grey Room

The Restoration of the Wall Paintings in the Holy Cross Chapel of the Wawel Cathedral in Kraków

Alois Riegl

View of painted ceiling vaults in the Holy Cross Chapel in Wawel, Kraków. Originally painted in 1471, restored several times. Photograph Marek Gardulski.


It is hardly by chance that, at the close of the extensive program for the restoration of Kraków’s cathedral, the chapel of the Holy Cross, significant above all for its wall paintings, was left for last. There must have been a feeling that in this chapel, on the one hand, questions of building conservation that otherwise dominate restoration projects recede behind that of the handling of the paintings; on the other hand, that if such treatment aimed to satisfy all legitimate demands, it would face wholly unusual difficulties. Well, now this space is next in line, after everything else in the cathedral stands as good as remade.