Volume 2 No.4 October 1998
Restoring the Two Murals of Duwaihi in Diman
In the editorial of July 98, we wrote about the painting over of two murals -- Saint Stephen and Saint Marina -- of Our Lady of Diman Church, the summer residence of our Maronite Patriarch. This act, which caused immense anguish and great dismay to all, was not fully explained to the public.
After a recent visit to the Diman, we were informed that foreign and national technical and artistic experts were consulted before the decision was made. The reports of these experts came back unanimous -- the water leakage damage was irreversible and there was no possibility of restoring the two paintings. We also learned that the Church authority had decided to reproduce the two murals, but this time to have them painted with extreme consideration for permanency and mural painting techniques.
After interviewing several painters and church art specialists, His Beatitude the Maronite Patriarch selected artist George Al-Zaatini to reproduce the two paintings. Mr. Al-Zaatini, who studied under Saliba Duwaihi for some time, explained that since the two masterpieces were oil paintings painted directly on the calcic walls without any insulation material and without observance of proper mural painting techniques, the water leakage damage was impossible to prevent or revoke.
Al-Zaatini said that he will reproduce the two murals exactly as Duwaihi executed them, but will paint them on canvas and use insulation to combat humidity, along with other techniques necessary for the Church environment.
The two murals will be exactly the same size as the originals and will be painted in the same spirit and style. The work is scheduled to be completed by the summer of 1999.
In announcing the selection of the artist to repaint the two murals, the Church authority has given hope for wich all of us in lebanon have prayed .
We are proud that His Beatitude, who is entrusted with the spiritual and temporal leadership of the Maronite people and patrimony, is not letting such sacred art be lost forever.
Guita G. Hourani