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Johan Thorn Prikker's Damaged Wall Painting

An important work in the exhibition dedicated to Johan Thorn Prikker is the study ‘The Harbour Company’ from 1917. It is a design for a mural in the Town Hall of Rotterdam; it was rejected because it was considered too modern.

If ‘The Harbour Company’ by Prikker was to be exhibited, it would have to be restored.

The enormous canvas measuring 425 x 351 cm was stored in the storage facility on the Metaalhof, where in was rolled up on wooden roll with too small a diameter and placed on the floor - an example of the overdue maintenance in the storage facility. When it was unrolled, the canvas was found to be considerably deformed. The edges were damaged; there were small tears in it. At the place where sharp creases had been made at the bottom of the canvas, the paint layer had peeled off. The flat paint was peeling away here and there and there was a grey layer of dirt.

The conservation work was carried out by the Stichting Restauratieatelier Limburg (SRAL) under the supervision of Jos van Och. It was also important, after the restoration and exhibition, that the storage facilities were improved, including storing it on a roll with a larger diameter. Under the supervision of the external restorer, the painting was mounted flat against the wall of the gallery on the doubled over edge that was applied to strengthen the edges. Although during the work conservation was the prime concern, the removal of the surface dirt and the minimal retouching of the damages meant that the strength and clarity of the illustration were much better expressed.


A trip for Johan Thorn Prikker

Curator Mienke Simon Thomas, guest curator Christiane Heiser and educator Catrien Schreuder visited Germany in May 2010 to look at all the works for the exhibition ‘Jugendstil and beyond’ of Johan Thorn Prikker and draw up a plan. Here is a report of three intensive days.