Conception Abbey

Conception, MO

The Benedictine monastery Conception Abbey is gem in the fields of rural Missouri. The interior of the chapel of this Benedictine Monastery and seminary is resplendent with twenty-four 19th-century Beuronese wall paintings depicting the lives of Mary, Jesus, and Saints Benedict and Scholastica. The original artwork was painted by monks from the Abbey in Beuron Germany using principles established by Father Desiderius Lenz (founder of the Beuroner Kunstschule). Works created by the monks at Beuron are rare as many of the European examples including those in Prague and Monte Casino were destroyed during the Second World War.

The arresting Beuronese style has a fascinating history that can be traced from Napoleon’s exploits to ancient Egypt. Its influence on modern art is equally compelling, but Conception Abbey features the extraordinary opportunity to experience the artform as intended: as a gateway to contemplation of the infinite celestial reality. EverGreene has been privileged to work with the Benedictine community at Conception on several projects including the restoration of the basilica 1990s; addition of new artwork in the chapter house chapel and refectory in the early 2000s; and most recently on the design and creation of a new architecturally appropriate reredos in the basilica. As a result, our in-house team of designers, conservators, and artists have become completely enamored of the Beuronese style, and are nationally recognized as experts in the conscientious preservation of existing Beuronese works, and faithful stewards of the aesthetic principles Beuron in the creation of new works.

The Abbey’s Basilica’s Beuronese art consists of murals depicting scenes from the lives of the Blessed Virgin, St. Benedict, and St. Scholastica; the Passion of Jesus; portraits of saints and angels’ and other artistic symbols. They are each a prayer in praise of God which represents the faith of numerous people: the original artist at the Abbey of Beuron, the Conception monk who copied the design on to the wall or ceiling, and the hundreds of monks and thousands of worshipers who have prayed among those paintings since they were completed in 1898.

EverGreene’s fine arts conservators treated all of the wall paintings, which were executed directly on plaster. Treatments included extensive consolidation of the plaster substrate, crack repair, stabilization of flaking paint, removal of extensive overpaint, addressing planar distortion, surface cleaning, and minimal in-­painting. This extensive plaster conservation project was completed in seven months.

A historic mural was restored and repainted by EverGreene artist Eugene Nikitin based on archival photographs. For the mural restoration, EverGreene developed and executed a new decorative color scheme that emerged from a design charrette process with the monastic community. The scheme was derived from the 1880’s decoration and incorporated the brotherhood’s goals for a lighter color palette.