Art nouveau panels, magnificent picture of an era preserved

How likely is it that decorated panels of a pavilion for product promotion will still exist after 120 years? Small. The Museum Van Marken Foundation was therefore delighted when such panels suddenly surfaced. Thanks to DSM, two panels have been restored in the past few months and are ready for exhibition.

In 2018 the biography of Jacques van Marken was published. This was the reason for Aad and Tony van der Meer from Sion (Rijswijk) to pick up the phone. At the other end of the line, at the Stichting Museum Van Marken, great enthusiasm arose. The family turned out to be in the possession of canvas panels of a dismountable pavilion. The pavilion had been built in 1900 to promote the products of Van Marken's ‘Delftsche Nijverheid’ at agricultural exhibitions. 37 canvas panels on a wooden frame measuring 3.40m x 0.75m were part of the structure. They were painted with Dutch landscapes, art nouveau motifs, products and the brand names of ‘Delftsche Nijverheid’. 

Turbulent history 

Project leader Marcel van Dien: "In an archive we came across ten exhibitions where the pavilion had stood. After the necessary detective work, we found a photograph with 'sold in 1918' on the back." Who the buyer was is unclear. What is certain is that the Van der Meer family used the pavilion as a barn until the early 1980s. The panels on the outside were covered with reed mats. Van Dien: "When the building was dismantled in the early 1980s, these panels appeared. Fortunately, the family thought it was a waste to throw them away and they were stored until the family handed them over to us." 

Conservation and restoration 

After 120 years, the panels were in serious need of conservation and restoration. Lucas van Wees, chairman of the Museum Van Marken Foundation: "A crowdfunding campaign in 2021 raised eighteen thousand euros for conservation. This enabled us to stop the deterioration of the panels. They are now safely stored in Museum Prinsenhof." 

Two panels, one with a landscape and one with the product name 'Spoeling', could be restored thanks to DSM and the Entrepreneurs Fund Delft. Van Dien: "Cracks, holes and unevenness were repaired, they were cleaned, given lining treatment and newly frame." From a donation by Emy Pelt-Jellema, daughter of the first chairman of the Board of Directors of Gist-Brocades NV, two climate boxes could be purchased. As a result, the two panels are now ready to be shown to the public. This will happen during the second Van Marken Day on August 28 in the Agnetapark.