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The photographs show that the walls in the dining hall were covered with toast inscriptions, decorated with folklore flower ornaments. Photo: Primož Premzl's personal archive

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Long forgotten photographs which shed new light on Maribor's Narodni Dom

Rich paintings in the building's interior
12. July 2017 ob 11:35
Ljubljana - MMC RTV SLO

The conviction for many years was that the Narodni Dom in Maribor was a monochromatic structure, both its facade and interior. But two relatively new discoveries point otherwise – in reality both the exterior and central part of this significant urban building were completely covered with rich paintings.

A new light is being shed on the first decades of the Narodni Dom by documents found in two different parts of Europe – the first appeared in Salzburg and the second in Prague. In October 2008 the Weissenböck auction house in Salzburg organized an auction of old photo albums, among which were also the photos' of Ferdinand Weitzinger, at his time the leading photographer in Maribor. The auction sparked great interest as photo albums from the early 19th century are quite rare.

Most revealing to conservation experts were the Narodni Dom photographs. It was already known that its exterior was full of paintings, after the publication of Premzl's monograph Mariborske vedute in 2004. But Weitzinger's photo album shows something similar in the building's interior, as the entrance halls, dining areas and the big hall were full of paintings.

This was later confirmed by newly discovered documents, long forgotten in the archives of Prague's National Technical Museum. A Slovenian art historian, Monika Pemič, accidently found the photos during a research. She found a folder in Prague's archives containing different documents about Maribor's Narodni Dom. The content includes 147 sketches, plans and drawings, which document the becoming of the Maribor building. Also preserved in Prague were copies of the construction plans, which no longer exist in Slovenia.

The photographs show that the walls in the dining hall were covered with toast inscriptions, decorated with folklore flower ornaments. The architect also dedicated much attention to details, like for example the polished glass on the door windows and the inscriptions.

During WWI the building was occupied by the army, which was not very caring towards its temporary residence. Twenty years later the representative paintings were fully painted over.

M. K., MMC; translated by K. J.