Breestraat 101 in Beverswijk

A remarkably preserved eighteenth-century painted room.

Behind the unassuming eighteenth-century façade of the building located at Breestraat 101 in Beverwijk, a remarkable painted room has been preserved. The stately residence originated in the middle of the eighteenth century as the result of the joining of two seventeenth-century parcels. It is likely that the second owner of the residence, Lourens Stelt (1736-1784), had the front room (voorkamer) decorated with painted wall hangings, a marble fireplace and a figurative stucco ceiling. Stelt inherited the house from his father, Pieter Lourisz Stelt (1690-1777) and inhabited the house together with his wife and their son Pieter Stelt (1766-1823), who would later become burgomaster of Beverwijk.

Upon entering the voorkamer richly painted wall hangings immediately catch the eye: five large canvases depict a Dutch landscape, in which figures are seen walking, fishing and resting. Next to the windows and chimney there are painted garlands, while above the doors of the closet medallions with the heads of Bacchus and Ceres can be seen. Above the three large doors putti in grisaille represent the themes Peace, Liberty and Prosperity.

The signature of these overdoor paintings show that they were executed by the painter Jacobus Luberti Augustini (1748-1822) from Haarlem. Jacobus learned the trade in the prospering wall hanging factory of his father Jan Augustini (1725-1773), which he took over after his father’s death. In Jacobus’ earliest biography he is praised for his grisaille-style paintings. The overdoors in Beverwijk are the only signed grisaille paintings by his hand that are known today, which only adds to the significance of this ensemble.

The acquisition of the building by “Stadsherstel”, a private company for city restoration, in 2011, led to an extensive renovation which included the painted room. A restoration was highly necessary as a weakened stretching, deformations, tears in the canvas and detached paint posed a severe threat to the canvases. And the elegant stucco ceiling, quite literally, was at risk of coming down.

The restoration formed a unique opportunity to conduct a technical analysis of the painted room. Because the paintings have never been removed and have gone virtually untouched, the room provides a wealth of information on the way in which rooms such as this were produced, and, in this sense, allows a behind-the-scenes view of the production methods and daily operations of an eighteenth-century wall hanging factory.

This technical research, combined with art historical and historical research provides insight into the original appearance of the room, which helped identify several interventions that had taken place in the centuries that followed. This knowledge is essential in determining the strategies for the room’s restoration.

A publication by Ige Verslype and Johanneke Verhave on this study is forthcoming.

The research into the painted room in Beverwijk is conducted in collaboration with the architectural paint researcher Judith Bohan. Restoration agency Rescura treated the stucco and wooden ornaments in the room. Paintings conservator Johanneke Verhave was appointed supervisor of the restoration team responsible for treating the canvases. Architectural historical research into the Breestraat 101 has previously been conducted by Karianne Vozza-Vandenbroucke and Odwin Rallin

I. Verslype, J. Verhave, S. Smelt, K. Keune, H. Sigmond, M. van Eikema Hommes, ‘A Painted Chamber in Beverwijk by Jacobus Luberti Augustini: ‘Novel insights into the working methods and painting practices in a painted wall-hanging factory’, H. Evans en K. Muir (eds.), Technology & practice: studying 18th-century paintings & p art on Paper. (Postprints of the conference Centre for Art Technological Studies and Conservation (CATS), Copenhagen, 2-3 juni 2014, Copenhagen 2015, pp. 82-95.

J. Verhave, “De wandbespanning uit de voorkamer. Conditie en restauratie”, in: A. Schweitzer et al. (eds.), De Pastorie in de Breestraat. Nieuwe inzichten in de geschiedenis van Beverwijk. Historische reeks Midden-Kennemerland. Dl. 4, 2014, pp. 55-64

The study of the painted room in the Breestraat will be published in the PhD dissertation of Ige Verslype (expected 2018).

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