The facsimile reconstruction of the wall and ceiling paintings in the study of Don Frane Bulic in Tusculum in Solin (Croatia) was my master thesis project and it took place in 2007/2008.
Conservation department of the Art Academy Of the University of Split was hired for the project: professors dr. sc. Branko Matulić, mr. sc. Tonči Borovac, assistant professor Marin Barišić and students: Ana Vrdoljak, Ane Karuza, Ivana Papić, Ivan Radonić, Nikola Radošević and Krešo Bosnić.
The study of Don Frane Bulić on the ground floor of Tusculum in Solin, on the 50th anniversary of his death (1984), has been temporarily adapted in the Memorial Room. The room was no longer decorated with Vinko Draganjas wall and ceiling paintings and you could say that with them the very spirit of Bulić was gone. In order to return to Tusculum the glory it had in Bulićs time, the project of facsimile reconstruction of wall and ceiling paintings started, but also renovation of the entire memorial room.
Building of Tusculum began in 1897. It is at least an original building, a combination of residential building and a Roman villa rustica. It’s decorated with numerous embedded
fragments, inscriptions, columns and capitals. By the most part those are the fragments from the old Bell Tower of the Cathedral of St. Duje (Catholic cathedral of Split), the rest comes from archaeological sites surrounding Tusculum. On the 5th of July 1898. Bulić sends an invitation to painters in Split and invites them to decorate the interior. Vinko
Draganja accepts the invitation. He painted the walls and ceiling of the guest room on the ground floor and he did that in the Pompeian Style as Bulić desired. The paintings were preserved until after the World War II.
The facsimile reconstruction of the wall and ceiling paintings
Facsimile reconstruction was carried out in two phases. The first consisted of research of the original art compositions and drafting proposal of reconstruction which lasted from 1st of December 2007 to 1st of March 2008. The second phase involved the reconstruction
of the paintings in color on the site and lasted from 1st of May to 30th of June 2008. The Archaeological Museum in 1984 turned the former “Pompeian room” into a memorial room of Don Frane Bulić. Bulićs large stone table with wooden chairs and stone sofas was set in the center of the room. His writings were displayed in the cabinet, and on the walls his medals, diplomas, personal photographs amongst the monuments of Salona and the picture of participants of the first International Congress on Early Christian Archaeology witch took place in Solin in 1894. All the walls, including ceilings, were painted in white and with no visible signs of the original decorations.
Probing of the walls was carried out in order to determine whether there are any remains of the original paintings. Probes in the niches on the east wall, where the original mortar was not entirely removed, showed the remains of the original pompeian red color. The study of the original art composition was based on 20 black and white photographs preserved in the archives of the Archaeological Museum in Split. Only two photos show the southwestern view of the room. Rest of the photos show details of the ceiling and eastern and northern parts of the wall.
Drawings of geometric, figurative and vegetable samples of art composition were made in the scale of 1:1. Then were transferred on the melinex transparent foil after which they were carefully cut out with scalpel. By doing so, templates were created which were used for the application on the walls and ceiling. On the prepared surface, with a pencil, basic control lines were drawn based on the previously elaborated documentation. With the help of control lines, the overall visual composition of the ceiling and walls was additionally verified, adjusted and corrected if necessary. Maimeri colors for wall paintings were used in the reconstruction. Samples were transferred to the walls and ceiling using pre-made templates and were subsequently painted by hand.
In addition to my master thesis I made a facsimile reconstruction of the ceiling decoration. It was done on a paper (300g) with tempera in a scale 1:5.