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St. Joseph Niche

 

 

The street shrine dedicated to St. Joseph was sculpted with high artistic capabilities. St. Joseph was sculpted holding baby Jesus in his left hand, while in the other hand he has a staff with lily blossoms, which are two of St. Joseph’s attributes. The niche itself was constructed in a baroque style; with semicircular recesses and crowned by a double cornice. A column with a Corinthian capital is found on either side of the statue. The niche is topped with a cross on a pedestal in the middle, and originally had two spherical decorative ornaments on each one of the columns. The decorated sill lies on two decorated corbels, which support the whole niche. In between the two corbels, one finds the decorative plaque with the indulgences. The niche and statue are currently coloured.

 

The statue in subject is found in the Urban Conservation Area of Żejtun, as a part of a private dwelling. Fortunately the street is not a very busy one and therefore it wasn’t exposed to a lot of pollution. The niche was sculpted in a very elaborate way as can be determined by its composition and use of many decorative features, such as the capitals, the corbels, features around the plaque, etc. After the initial documentation test were carried out to analyse the paint layers and to determine the way forward. The paint was removed manually using delicate manual methods with micro scalpels. Any areas which are found to be stable and the paint is sound were retained. Areas where biological growth is present were cleaned using a still bristle nylon brush. Metal pipes, metal inserts, dead cables, metal copings and other accretions found fixed to or embedded in the masonry, were carefully removed. Any metal fragments and rust left in the stone were removed by drilling into the hole at a wider diameter to ensure that no rusting metal was left in the stone. The holes were then covered by inserting stone dowels or by plastering. Joints were opened and loose or unsound pointing or pointing whit high level of cement was carefully removed. Deteriorated, dismantled, chiselled, missing sections of plain masonry were reinstated using plastic repair techniques matching adjoining stonework in colour, texture and final profile. According to the tests carried out it was determined how to intervene with the paint, yet the original colours were favoured and were recreated if deemed reasonable. Breathable paint was used.