Jacob Por painted this ceiling mural on the barrel vault of Sint Agathakerk (Agathatsjerke) in Oudega in 1922. It was a time when the Ploeg painters traveled through the Groninger countryside and painted their colourful expressionist paintings around Blauwborgje. It was also a time when excavations were conducted in Egypt. 1922 is also the year when the tomb of Tutankhamun was discovered.
Art Deco painting
The painting by Jacob Por in Sint Agathakerk consists of Art Deco repeating motifs in cream and black on a burgundy background between green-colored ribs.
The barrel vault in Sint Agathakerk
Jacob Por’s signature is written; did he paint this decoration alone, or were there collaborators? And how is it that a component of nicotine has been found in the binder samples? Por smoked cigars… Could that be the reason? Because at the entrance of the church, there is a sign that says, ‘Smoking and tobacco prohibited.’ Many questions still unanswerd… The old villagers can tell that Por used to stay in the village at that time.
The investigation into technique and material usage by Jacob Por.
The semi-transparent reddish-brown layer contains not only oil but also protein and a bit of candelilla wax. The pattern is applied to it using a punching technique of white dots. The black and cream lines appear to be smoothly and gracefully executed. The cream paint is based on casein, and the black paint has oil and protein as binders. The brush strokes are attractive. Here, a lively and ingenious pattern has been painted with enthusiasm and skill.
Designs by Jacob Por
The grandchildren own beautiful watercolors by Jacob Por in Sint Agathakerk. The watercolour that served as a model for the church board of that time is almost identical to what we see now. However, the final design is even more ingenious in terms of the mirror image and reversibility of the pattern. You keep looking and discovering new patterns.
Patterns and motifs
There is a balance in the number of planks, the width of the plank, and the brushstroke. A plank of 16 cm wide is used for brushstrokes and patterns that are 4 x 2 cm wide. This entire design is so ingeniously constructed that it becomes dizzying, especially because it consists of 18 compartments and 9 ribs.
Lecture on the conducted research and the findings and recommendations
On November 24, 2023, I presented the results of our research (2022) to about 80 interested individuals, residents of Oudega, and 7 grandchildren. The research was conducted in 2022 in collaboration with Willianne van der Sar from Color & Conservation. The research questions and the corresponding samples taken by Willianne were answered by the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands (Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed – RCE) in a comprehensive report.
Jacob Por in the New Church in Delft
In 2014, the ceiling painting by Por in the New Church in Delft was examined by Susan Smelt and me. Special similarities and differences in technique and materials could be observed here. Now, there is a desire to investigate a third church painting. This could help in building a small database.
Thanks to all the acquired knowledge, this ceiling painting by Jacob Por in Agathakerk can now be preserved through proper management and conservation. Because the advice once again is ‘doing nothing is also doing something.’ We aim for condition monitoring and ‘slow conservation.’