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Rare Frescoes in Suure-Kõpu Manor Open for Public Viewing

Suure-Kõpu manor
Suure-Kõpu manor Source: Photo: ERR

Suure-Kõpu Manor, in Viljandi County, has been renovated thanks to a grant received from Norway, and its rare Pompeii-style frescoes and Art Nouveau interior design elements are open for public viewing again.

The manor house which was built in 1847 based on the design  by Emil Julius Strauss contains surprises that have been hidden from view for decades. More than 60 years ago, a Young Pioneer leader decided that reveling centaurs and maenads were not fit to be displayed on the walls of a Soviet schoolhouse and the frescoes were painted over. Since then, the walls have been painted over repeatedly, ETV reported.

"Years ago, an artistically-minded house painter came to do the repairs here and he was the one who uncovered the first painting of a centaur," recalled Arnold Vares, former longtime headmaster of the Kõpu School. According to Vares, that happened in the 1970s when times were such that it was impossible to even think of doing more.

However, a couple of years ago it became possible to start uncovering the frescoes, and now the exact copies of the frescoes of Cicero's villa, painted by an unknown Italian master, are open for public viewing again. However, apart from Pompeii-style frescoes, the rooms of the manor house also feature unusual marble walls and various other historical interior design elements.

"There are paintings from several periods here," said Jaan Vali, adviser for the National Heritage Board. "There are Pompeii-style as well as Art Nouveau frescoes. What is interesting is that the Art Nouveau frescoes had been covered in imitation stucco made of papier-mâché. And as the work progressed, the frescoes were gradually uncovered."

The renovations of the Kõpu manor house cost 1.4 million euros, most of which came from a grant received from Norway through the framework of the European Economic Area and Norway Grants.

"A surprising amount of the original interior design has remained intact. I cannot talk in terms of percentages, but the halls on the ground floor exist in more or less their authentic form. These are the parts that have been uncovered from under layers of paint, millimeter by millimeter, or that have never been painted over," said Tõnu Kiviloo, municipality elder of Kõpu.

A thorough examination of the first floor of the Kõpu manor house is yet to be conducted. The walls and ceilings of this building may still have some surprises in store.


Sigrid Maasen

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