The Burgerhout Panorama
Discovery of the second largest maritime paintings in the Netherlands
The Burgerhout Panorama went on display at the Rotterdam Maritime Museum in February 2013. The three paintings are two metres high and between six and ten metres wide, making them the largest maritime paintings in the Netherlands after the Mesdag Panorama.
The rolled-up paintings had been in the museum's depot for years. Eighteen months ago, a place was found where they could be unrolled safely and experts then discovered three tableaux of great historical importance.
The pride of Rotterdam
The Burgerhout Panorama was painted in 1928 by Adolf Bock. It shows ships that had been built by the Burgerhout machinery factory and shipyard in Rotterdam for Dutch and foreign customers: naval vessels, dredgers, freighters, passenger ships, tugs and floating dry docks, including the 'pearl in the crown', the Tandjong Priok dry dock. The customer, Burgerhout, was making a statement with these paintings: "Just look what we can do!" In addition to this bit of Rotterdam boasting, the paintings are of significant historical importance. They give a unique insight into the versatility and professional skill of this Rotterdam shipbuilder.
Very dirty and damaged
The Burgerhout Panorama has been restored by the Stichting Restauratieatelier Limburg, one of the few restoration workshops in the Netherlands capable of restoring canvases of these dimensions. The size, and the large amount of dirt and damage to the canvases made it a major job.
The paintings had hung for years in a staff restaurant where people were eating and smoking. Streaks on two of the canvases also showed that they had regularly been wiped with a wet sponge, which made the dirt stick even more. The third canvas had a thick, yellowed layer of varnish that had run; this had clearly not been applied by the artist. The fresh colours have now reappeared from under the dirt and varnish, just as Bock intended when they were painted. Some earlier amateur repairs have been corrected and a layer of protective varnish has been applied.
The two top pictures are two of the three complete Burgerhout Panorama panels.
Above left is a detail from one of the panoramas of Tandjong Priok dry dock.
On the right, the restorers at work on one of the panoramas.
Visitors can see the Burgerhout Panorama on permanent display in the entrance hall of the Rotterdam Maritime Museum