Contents of the Image Database
The „color slide archive of wall and ceiling painting“ contains 39,000 digitalized records of important periods of fresco art and murals in churches, monasteries, castles and other secular buildings in Germany, Austria, Poland, Russia (east and west Prussia) and Czech Republic (Bohemia and North Moravia).
The archive was established between 1943 and 1945 in the middle of World War 2; an attempt by the National Socialist Regime, in light of threatening destruction, to document the permanent interior wall decorations of important historical monuments throughout the whole of the German Empire.
The time span of the photographed artworks in a total of around 480 buildings ranges from the 10th to the end of the 19th century. Besides the wall and ceiling murals, there is also color photo documentation of wallpaper and paneling and a less extensive collection of architectural elements, stucco, paintings on canvas or panels, and altars. Records of the buildings themselves are an exception; photographers were strictly prohibited by the „Ministry for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda” to document them.
The war situation and the associated logistical problems, as well as the unstable color emulsions, inevitably meant that many important buildings were, if at all, inadequately documented. Some image series were lost in bombings or in the post-war confusion. Improper storage and projection of the slide transparencies over the past five decades has lead to bleaching of color. Nevertheless, the color slide archive remains an irreplaceable resource for historical images of middle-European wall and ceiling murals through the passing down of a multitude of destroyed or damaged artworks, often in astonishing detail, for the purpose of research, education and the preservation of historical monuments.
The digitalization and reprocessing of the color slide archive is supported by:
Federal Office for Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance (BBK), Dept. of Cultural Heritage
Tavolozza Foundation, München