Interview with Zsuzsa Herling painter-restaurateur
The castle’s wall paintings have been created by Róbert Schultz, the designer of the ornamental paintings in the Hungarian State Opera House. The restoration process lasted up to 5 months and was led by the team who contributed recently in the renovation process of the Hungarian State Opera House, the Lotz Salon of the Párisi Nagyáruház, the Budai Vigadó, the Prince Suite of the Fertődi castle and the frescos of the Archbishop’s Palace in Eger as well.
We have interviewed Zsuzsa Herling painter-restaurateur – head of the team – and talked about the wall paintings of the castle including the challenges they faced during the restoration process.
What do we know about the wall paintings of the castle?
The wall paintings of the castle have been created by Róbert Schultz, the designer of the ornamental paintings in the Hungarian State Opera House. The ornamental paintings carry a French Neo-Renaissance style and were designed based on the paintings in Alfred Rotschild’s Buckinghamshire castle. The construction of the castle started in 1883 and lasted up to 3 years – during this time the wall paintings have been completed as well by using secco technique. This means, that these wall paintings were painted on a dry base, compared to frescos, where the base has to be wet.
Where are the wall paintings located and what kind of motives they are featuring?
We will find a variety of motives while discovering the castle. On the ground floor, Rosett motifs are all over to be found: on the arches of the Esplanade and on the baldachins of the hallway. The trimmings in the ballroom were made with pattern technique. The Palmhouse is covered with wall paintings as well, where among others, we can discover horse figures.
How does a restoration process look like?
The main goal is to have the final result look as close as possible to the original. In order to achieve our goals, the first step is a photo-documentation, we are recording all the unharmed areas with their original motivs. This is followed by the preservation of the surfaces and which is required to even out the rough texture. The abreded or degradated wall paintings have been restored with the help of patterns. Restoration is a precise process which requires time and patience, the castle needed 4-5 months until finalization.
How does a restored wall painting become authentical?
It becomes authentic by mixing the right colors and using the correct patterns. In regard of these, the biggest challenge was to recover those paintings where the base abraded completely. All dye material, we were using, are similar to the original ones. Originally they were using powder-ink for painting the seccos, which they mixed with glue – it served as a binder. Our team used powder-ink, aquarell, and acrylic-tint, however instead of glue, Metylant has been used as a binder.
You seem a very coordinated team, how long have you been working together?
Our Team – which is working on the renovation of the castle – consist of 8 people (including painter-resturateurs and artists) – and has a working history of 16 years. Besides the castle, we have contributed recently to the renovation process of the Hungarian State Opera House, the Lotz Salon of the Párisi Nagyáruház, the Budai Vigadó, the Prince Suite of the Fertődi castle and the frescos of the Archbishop’s Palace in Eger as well. The restauration process of the castle was a real professional challenge for us and we are truly proud that we could be part of this significant project.