The painting at Virgiel

het schilderij van Virgiel
The Painting of Virgiel

La Pasqua di San Marco

The painting “La Pasqua de San Marco” from 1935 by professor Huib Luns (1881 – 1942) shows a religious scene of the Easter feast of San Marco. This large painting has been hanging for decades in the Eetzaal (dining room) of the society building of the Catholic Student Association “Sanctus Virgilius” in Delft (in short: Virgiel). Huib Luns is also the father of the well-known Joseph Luns, Minister of Foreign Affairs (1956-1971) and Secretary General of NATO (1971-1984). Huib Luns became professor at Delft University of Technology in 1931. And see here – through the connection of the Catholic faith and the Technical University – the link with Virgiel! However, it is not known when and how the painting came into Virgiel’s possession.

– Frank van Iersel inspecting the repaired canvas

Frans Smoor restores and paints

But it is a very special painting by Virgiel. Because in the 1960s, Virgilian Frans Smoor adapted the painting to ‘his time’. And how did that come about? Because his club ‘the Order of Saint Barbara’ found the heavily damaged painting in the society building of the association. Frans then painted and restored the painting at his own discretion. And all members of the Order of Saint Barbara were given a place in the performance.

The pollution of the painting

Hanging as a painting by Virgiel in the Eetzaal (dining room) is going to be a lot of work. Food, moisture, heat, drink, glass. Because the life of a painting is not always a bed of roses, the appreciation for a painting has many faces.

The special bond with the painting

Because it is this history that ensures that the painting is inextricably linked to Virgiel. Therefore, the members of this association are the main stakeholders of this work of art. Of course they are very aware of this. This became clear in a conversation with Frank van Iersel: one of the members portrayed in the painting, Nick Peters: chairman of the Reunion Society, and two members of Virgiel’s heritage committee.

het opspannen van het steundoek
Stretching the support cloth by Virgilians Fleur and Daan

Restoring Virgilians

This involvement goes so far that the members of the association themselves help with the restoration of this painting. Students cooperate in removing the canvas. They stretch a support cloth on the frame with their own hands. Cleaning the frame, made by Frank van Iersel himself! 

Rowin een virgiliaan die restaureert
Virgilian Rowin and intern Esmee

Management and preservation of the painting

Preservation for the future is part of the restoration process. That is why the climate in the ‘dining room’ is already being measured. The painting will not return to the gallery until the spring of 2022. To measure for half a year is to know. What happens to the climate when 100 people eat and party. The temperature and relative humidity are measured with a small tag. Then the question arises: “How can the painting best be protected?” Students contribute ideas about this process. Are they going to protect it or move temporarily if the party is good? The measurements and the options form the basis for an action plan. Govee SMART THERMO-HYGROMETER

Measuring Virgilians with SMART

The future of Virgiel’s painting

The condition of the painting will be closely monitored in the coming years. Together with the students, we check the condition of the painting for the first two years. Then the students will perform it themselves. They then transfer the knowledge to their successors. Keeping a log and transferring knowledge is part of the management and conservation program.

The painting on

On the website of the Reunion Society of Virgiel there is a nice report about the history of this special painting.

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

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