About the restoration of a panel by artist Martinus Schouwman by painting restorer Marjan de Visser on the day of Friends of steamship the Rotterdam on January 22, 2023 in the grand balroom. 

Martinus Schouman
Lecture by painting restorer Marjan de Visser on Steamship the Rotterdam
Martinus Schouman
The captain’s room with the photocopy of the painting by Martinus Schouman on Steamship the Rotterdam

When the ship was built, all halls, rooms and corridors were decorated with art objects by artists with the support of architects. That is why we now see the monumental wall painting by Cuno van den Steene in the grand balroom  and next to it the wall painting painted by Wally Elenbaas in the Tropicbar , both on the promenade deck. So much art commissioned for the ship wherever you look.

Objects were also purchased, including a seascape by Martinus Schouman (1770-1848) for the captain’s room. It was included as part of the decoration. Unfortunately, it disappeared from the ship during one of the times it was sold. Klaas Krijnen chairman of the Friends of the Steamship the Rotterdam moved heaven and earth to get the painting back on board. And he succeeded this summer (2023). 

Klaas asked Marjan de Visser – restorer of paintings – to look at the conditions of this panel by Martinus Schouman. Because the seascape is painted on a beautiful oak panel of three planks. And that was clearly visible through the old overpainting on the seams. This is an outdated restoration from the past. Executed in oil paint, the overpaints were too large and discoloured and disturbed the depth effect of the waves, clouds and horizon. 

What Marjan could also see clearly was the discolored varnish, which had given a warm yellow glow to the whole and a solid shine. And the layer of dirt on top gave it a somewhat tame look, while the wind blew hard, the clouds floated, and the water splashed. 

Steamship the Rotterdam

Examples of discolored overpaint on the seam of the oak planks

The back of the oak panel with the marking of the planks.

Steamship the Rotterdam

Studying all the conditions Marjan also discovered a pentimenti by Martinus Schouman in the left ship’s sail. No, no pentimenti ! for it was a later overpaint that had corrected the artist’s billowing sails! 

Martinus Schouman
(left) before treatment (right) after treatment, the sail can flutter again.

During the restoration, the gray dirt, the yellow varnish, the disturbing overpainting and the correction in the sail were removed. I was able to tell this wonderful process of unveiling to the donors: all Friends of steamship Rotterdam on January 22, 2023 in the grand balroom. The restoration was carried out in collaboration with colleague Noa Kollaard.

Steamship the Rotterdam
The by Matinus Schouman painting during varnish removal
Martinus Schouman
(left) before restoration (right) after restoration

After restoration, the painting will be replaced by the volunteers and the photocopy can finally go into the trash, its job is done!

★ I like to share my knowledge of paintings and love for conservation with colleagues and clients ★

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