Discovered in 1953 on the eastern wall of the Church of the Virgin Hodegetria on the island of Lefkas, the paintings had been covered by a layer of lime plaster. Located in the village of Apolpena, a few kilometers from Lefkas, the capital city on the island, the church was in ruins and threatened to collapse. The 15th century wall paintings were done by Greek Orthodox monks influenced by late period Gothic painting. They depict religious scenes including the Pentecost, the Birth of Saint John the Baptist, the Ascension, the Incredulity of Saint Thomas and Joseph's Dream before the Flight to Egypt.
To preserve the paintings under better conditions they were removed and transferred to the Byzantine and Christian Museum in Athens in the late 1960s and recently restored in the museum's workshops. Restoration work included cleaning, partially removing the preparatory layer, consolidation of the painted surface and preparation of the backing, returning the frescoes to their original glory.
The restoration also provided an opportunity to recreate a more faithful presentation of the entire 10-painting ensemble. Using sophisticated aerospace technologies, the museum's specialists reconstituted a wall with dimensions equivalent to those of the Church of the Virgin Hodegetria (4.2 meters high and 5 meters wide) on which the frescoes are now displayed. This wall mounting is lightweight, mobile and extremely robust, enabling it to be moved and remounted both within the museum or at an external site. The restored consolidated display brings both researchers and the public a chance to study and enjoy the striking pictorial artwork born from the fertile coexistence of Catholics and Orthodox followers at the same site.
Longstanding support for museums
The BNP Paribas Foundation has long been recognized as a loyal corporate patron of museums, helping institutions preserve and display their treasures. Over the past 15 years BNP Paribas for Art program has notably enabled the restoration of over 200 works in museums in France and around the world.
About the BNP Paribas Foundation
Under the aegis of the Foundation of France, the BNP Paribas Foundation helps conserve and enhance access to the rich cultural heritage of museums. The Foundation is a partner to creative talents and performers in disciplines that generally receive little support from corporate patrons and is very active in funding advanced medical research. The Foundation also promotes initiatives that benefit education, social inclusion and aid for people with disabilities. The Foundation leads the Group's corporate patronage initiatives, working closely with networks in France and other countries to develop programs and provide its partners with long-term support.
News on a wide variety of corporate social responsibility initiatives from across the BNP Paribas group is regularly posted on the blogforachangingworld.com
About BNP Paribas Greece
BNP Paribas has operated in Greece for nearly 30 years and is a leader in Corporate & Investment Banking. With extensive coverage of large corporates and financial institutions, the bank is a key provider of financial services for the merchant marine sector. BNP Paribas Greece is also active in wealth management and offers specialized financial services through BP2S (a leader in securities custody in Greece), Arval (vehicle fleet management), UCI (individual mortgage lending), Ségecé (shopping center management) and Danos.
In 2009, BNP Paribas Greece funded a program by the Byzantine and Christian Museum in Athens to offer tactile guided tours for visually-handicapped visitors.