Toruń restorer reveals stunning results of ‘magic’ chapel restoration in Notre-Dame Cathedral
A Polish restoration specialist working on the reconstruction of the interior of the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, has revealed exclusive new photographs showing the stunning results on one of the Cathedral’s 24 chapels.
Substantially damaged by fire in April 2019, the world-famous cathedral is currently undergoing reconstruction works to both its interior and exterior.
Felicja Lamprecht, a conservator of monuments and artist from Toruń, who has her own atelier in Paris and is part of the team working on the reconstruction, told the Polish Press Agency: “We have been working on the 19th century frescoes in St Ferdinand’s chapel in the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris since September 2020 and we can say that we are very pleased with the effects of our work.
“The chapel has been finished and it looks wonderful. It is light and brightened.
“Our work has a deep meaning, because we are dealing with original materials and reconstructing a work of the most beautiful proportions constructed for God, which can be seen in every detail of the Cathedral.”
The first task of the team was to clear the chapel of a layer of dust and lead, cobwebs and crystalized salt. Only after that, could they begin to reconstruct the wall paintings in the chapel.
Although the fire didn’t seriously damage any of Notre-Dame’s 24 chapels along the length of the nave and around the presbytery as the fire mainly ripped through the roof of the cathedral, the restoration team’s work was still filled with many challenges such as clearing the frescoes of lead.
Lamprecht continued: “The work was difficult because of the forced position of the body on the scaffolding. We used, amongst others, specialist equipment, like types of vacuums to collect lead…as well as gels with active substances which dissolved impurities.
“We also used glues, resin and special syringes to inject these substances into the walls, as well as natural and synthetic paints.”
One of the team’s biggest challenges while working on the restoration of St Ferdinand’s chapel was matching restoration materials, so that their work could be reversible and resistant to damp, on account of the thousands of people visiting the cathedral each day when it opens again to the public.
Lamprecht, who described her approach to the style of the restoration of Notre-Dame as conservative, said: “I am in favour of authenticity. When I discover elements of the cathedral not visible to the naked eye, which are fine-tuned to perfection by their original craftsmen, even though they are not visible to the naked eye, but are done with God in mind, I feel moved.
“In the past, craftsmen had an unbelievable knowledge and what they constructed survived many ages… the Cathedral of Notre-Dame should be rebuilt in line with the original.
“Pilgrims and visitors come to Paris and to Notre-Dame to see original masterpieces and not copies.
“Working with original artworks and materials makes sense. There is an energy in them, they are not fake. I appreciate harmony, which is beautiful and proportions.
“However the work we do is often tedious, hard and often requires spending long hours in an uncomfortable position.
“There is no magic, but the final result is magic, like in the chapel of St Ferdinand.”
Following the completed restoration of St Ferdinand’s Chapel, Lamprecht and her team are due to begin restoration work on Notre-Dame’s chapel of Our Lady of Guadalupe.