The view of the complete reconstruction of Zhovkva Castle (based on a model). Source: The Zhovkva Castle Museum, Ukraine.

The architectural and restorers’ examination conducted at the castle in Zhovkva (Ukraine) in the years 2012-2015.

The numerous historical links and analogies between Wilanów and Zhovkva, which originated in 1677, were complemented, early into the second decade of the 21st century, with intensive examination and restoration activities. At King Jan III’s Palace in Wilanów the full-scale process of restoring facades and the interior was initiated. The process of planning similar solutions began in the former residence of the Żółkiewski, Daniłowicz, Sobieski and Radziwiłł families in Zhovkva. Both royal residences, now the Museum of Jan III’s Palace at Wilanów and the National Historic and Architectural Area of Zhovkva, cooperate on various planes, aiming at the mutual sharing of their resources and competencies in order to broaden and popularise knowledge about the common historical past, especially that related to King Jan III and his family, and to understand and preserve the material traces of those relations. As a result, the general assumptions of the EU Eastern Partnership are being realised in the sphere of culture.
In practice, the Museum in Wilanów has actively joined in a series of architectural examinations in accordance with the Zhovkva assumption, making the most of the experiences gained in that field during the project of reconstructing the baroque colour scheme of the facades of the palace in Wilanów. This was possible thanks to an agreement of cooperation entered into by the two institutions in 2008, and by allowing the implementation of the Wilanów examination programme in Zhovkva by the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, thanks to three (2012, 2013, and 2014) earmarked grants for seeking, securing, analysing, and documenting the preserved material traces of the historical décor of the Zhovkva Castle.

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In 2012 a team of art restorers, supervised by experts from the Museum of Jan III’s Palace at Wilanów, found, on the walls of several rooms on the piano nobile of the palace wing, fragmentarily preserved elements of décor from the earliest period when the palace was used (the beginning of which dates back to 1605).
The multi-layered structure of the project that facilitates making exposures, taking samples, and conducting laboratory tests, was complemented with the simultaneous protection of the found paintings and stuccowork (by gluing the coating or structural reinforcement of the stuccowork).
The session of architectural and restoration examination conducted in Zhovkva in the 2013 season confirmed the assumptions made after the 2012 season, revealing more and more formal motifs that allow the dating and interpreting of the paintings. The results of the comprehensive examination of the samples in the domestic and foreign laboratories taken in Zhovkva (pigments, paint vehicles, including carbon-14 dating) are a confirmation of the theses formulated as a result of formal analysis. The discoveries led to a revision of the previous state of knowledge on the original arrangement of the piano nobile rooms.
Another session of in situ examination, conducted in 2014, led to other discoveries. From under the stucco applications, which served as the decoration of fireplaces, two portrait medallions were revealed, in bigger or smaller fragments. The interpretation of the new pictures cast new light on the history of the Zhovkva residence, and, first and foremost, on the silhouettes of its founders.

The project’s calendar

The first session of the restorers’ examination
The laboratory examination in Poland to verify the research objectives
The second session of the restorers’ examination
The third session of restorers’ examination
The field-documentation session
August - October
The laboratory examination for the purpose of making final conclusions
October - November
Studio work on the concept of a spatial database of the project
The fourth field session of the restorers’ examination
October - December
Studio work on the target formula for the spatial database of the project
The presentation of the project results within the Monumentum Sobiescianum research programme, implemented by the Art Department of the Museum of King Jan III’s Palace at Wilanów

Project participants:

King John's III Palace Museum in Wilanow
  • Director: Paweł Jaskanis.
  • Curators: Wojciech Bagiński, Paweł Baranowski.
  • Cooperation: Małgorzata Przeździęk, Waldemar Nowak.
Research team

Michał Mojecki, Kartarzyna Onisk, Sylwia Svorová Pawełkowicz, Dorota Chłosta-Mojecka, Agnieszka Markowska Fereira da Silva , Adam Maciejewski.

Historical and Architectural Conservation Area of Zhovkva
  • Director: Wladimir Gerycz.
  • Cooperation: Michail Kubaj, Natalia Pjech.