St. Mark’s Church Angel Painted Bas-relief

During St. Mark’s history, many alterations and additions have been made to the building. In 1887, the original pews were replaced with the current ones and in 1901 an organ was purchased which would eventually be replaced in 2005. [Patterson, William J.. Courage, Faith and Love: The History of St. Mark’s Church. 1993] One addition was made to the church, however, that was never recorded in any church documents and has always hung in situ within the living memory of everyone at St. Mark’s.

The mysterious “Angel” on the North chancel wall appeared sometime after 1897 since the relief does not appear in photographs taken on this date. No artist signatures or marks can be found on the relief.

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a few before treatment images 2014

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It appears that the sculpture was executed in three separate relief pieces elsewhere and then assembled and installed in St. Mark’s. The identification of two parallel joint lines that run from the top to bottom of the piece demonstrates thissections

During the process of the treatment, the bas-relief slowly unveiled its secrets. It became clear that the artwork was at least painted three different times. The following three different layers could be distinguished:

  • An original paint layer, extensively damaged, applied onto the roughened plaster support.
  • A second layer, applied using different colour shades, with varying thicknesses  (by renowned painter André Biéler’s 1951 restoration campaign).
  • An upper paint layer of over-paint, very roughly applied, with no colour mixing.

Numerous samples were taken and extensive analytical techniques were used to help assess the condition of the artwork and design the appropriate conservation treatment.

The last paint layer was removed revealing much of the original and some of André Biéler’s restoration efforts. Unfortunately most of the facial details and much of the original gold paint/gilding  had been permanently lost.

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during paint removal / January 2015

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After the over-paint removal all surfaces were varnished to consolidate the paint layers and substrate and Lascaux acrylic paints and 24K gold were used to complete the conservation treatment.

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Throughout the project CSMO used UV, IR and visible light photography to record the treatment and monitor the progress.

The completed restoration was reveled during an open house on April 25, 2015. It was an opportunity to share ownership of the historic St. Mark’s building, the once again magnificent Angel and setting of the lovely little village of Barriefield.

few after treatment images

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CSMO is grateful to Retired Brigadier General  William J. Patterson, Professor Pierre DuPrey, Father Haynes Q. Hubbard and the very supportive community.

The restoration was covered by CKWS newswatch’s Darryn Davis:

St. mark’s mural being restored in Barriefield

Kingston, ON, Canada / CKWS TV

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February 02, 2015 06:06 pm

  1. MARK’S CHURCH IN BARRIEFIELD DATES BACK TO 1844.
  2. MARK’S CHURCH IN BARRIEFIELD DATES BACK TO 1844. AND INSIDE THE OLD LIMESTONE CHURCH IS A PAINTED IMAGE KNOWN AS “THE ANGEL.” IT’S IN THE PROCESS OF BEING RESTORED. BUT AS NEWSWATCH’S DARRYN DAVIS FOUND OUT, THE HISTORY OF THE PIECE IS A MODERN-DAY MYSTERY.

ART CONSERVATOR ALEX GABOV AND HIS TEAM SPENT MONTHS ANALYZING THIS PIECE CALLED “THE ANGEL” BEFORE RESTORATION WORK COULD BEGIN. THEY USED INFRARED PHOTOGRAPHY AND LOOKED AT PAINT SAMPLES UNDER THE MICROSCOPE.

“WE DISCOVERED THAT WE’RE DEALING WITH 3 LAYERS OF PAINT. SO THE ORIGINAL PAINT. THE LATER ON APPLIED IN 1951 BY ANDRE BIELER ”

THEY’VE BEEN ABLE TO SAVE THE ORIGINAL PAINT AND THE WORK DONE BY BIELER IN 1951 — WHILE GETTING RID A THIRD COAT OF HOUSEHOLD PAINT FROM IN THE 1970′S OR 80′S.

BILL PATTERSON’S FAMILY TIES TO ST. MARK’S ANGLICAN CHURCH DATE BACK SEVERAL GENERATIONS.
HE’S WRITTEN A BOOK ABOUT THE CHURCH AND ITS HISTORY. BUT “THE ANGEL” IS A RIDDLE HE STRUGGLES TO UNLOCK. THEY DON’T KNOW THE NAME OF THE ARTIST OR WHEN IT WAS PLACED IN THE CHURCH.
PATTERSON BELIEVES THE 4 BY 3 METRE RELIEF WAS COMMISSIONED BY EDWARD BARKER PENSE — THE GRANDSON OF THE FOUNDER OF THE WHIG STANDARD. PENSE PAID FOR THE ADDITION TO THE CHURCH IN 1897 WHERE THE RELIEF IS LOCATED.

“I HAVE A SORT OF FUNNY IDEA THAT THE ANGEL IS SUPPOSED TO REPRESENT HIS WIFE WHO DIED IN 1897, WELL MAYBE I’M WRONG. ”

PATTERSON HOPES TO FIND CLUES IN PENSE’S PAPERS AT QUEEN’S UNIVERSITY. THE ONE THING EVERYONE CAN AGREE ON IS THE RELIEF IS UNIQUE TO THE AREA.

“I DON’T THINK WE HAVE ANYTHING QUITE LIKE IT ANYWHERE ELSE IN THE WHOLE ANGLICAN DIOCESE OF ONTARIO AND YOU’D GO PRETTY FAR TO FIND SOMETHING COMPARABLE IN TORONTO OR MONTREAL.”

” ADDING TO THE MYSTERY OF THE ANGEL, DU PREY SAYS HE DOESN’T BELIEVE THE PAINTED BAR RELIEF WAS MANUFACTURED IN THE IMMEDIATE AREA. THAT’S FURTHER CONFIRMED BY THE WORK DONE BY ALEXANDER GABOV.”

THE STUCCO RELIEF IS DONE IN THREE SECTIONS.

“THESE SECTIONS WERE CAST SOMEWHERE ELSE AND SCULPTED, PERHAPS FREE SCULPTED. BUT I THINK THAT IT QUITE LIKELY THAT THEY WERE CAST AND THEN FINISHED WITH PLASTER.”

AND WHILE COMPLETION OF THE RESTORATION IS ONLY WEEKS AWAY, ONGOING RESEARCH TO SOLVE THE MYSTERY OF ST. MARK’S ANGEL CONTINUES. DARRYN DAVIS CKWS NEWSWATCH KINGSTON.

 

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