Ellis van Dijk from Dover has been getting up close with a historic painting of Dover's patron saint
Ten-year-old, Ellis van Dijk from Dover said it was "mindboggling good" to be allowed to surface clean a painting, and to investigate in close-up detail a copy of an oil painting by the renowned Flemish artist - and near namesake - Anthony van Dyck at the Maison Dieu in Dover.
Damaged sections of the portrait of ‘St Martin Dividing his Cloak’ were painstakingly retouched by paintings conservator Jo Gorlov as part of the popular Meet the Pilgrims event at the Maison Dieu last weekend, which attracted over 500 visitors.
Visitors chatted to Jo Gorlov and Rebecca Gregg of Rebecca Gregg Conservation as they worked on paintings in the Maison Dieu’s pop-up Conservation Studio in the historic Stone Hall.
“It's been really exciting working on paintings which are of such historic importance to Dover and a pleasure to explain our work to the public who are clearly so passionate about the restoration of the Maison Dieu,” said Rebecca.
Maison Dieu Engagement Officer Martin Crowther added: “Jo and Rebecca have done a fantastic job. The St Martin portrait is a real favourite of many local people and because of this painstaking work is back to its best. You can’t see the join!”
(Paintings conservators, Rebecca Gregg and Jo Gorlov with the portrait of St Martin Dividing his Cloak, of the Dover Collections)
Thousands more visitors attended over 70 events across the Dover district and East Kent as part of the wider Kent Pilgrims’ Festival which included walks, talks, creative workshops, and the launch of Dover’s very own pilgrim ales (Maison Brew and Sigeric) at the Breakwater Brewery and Taproom.
St Martin of Tours (c.316-397) is the patron saint of Dover. A Roman cavalry officer serving in Gaul, Martin is said to have encountered a poor beggar at the city gate of Amiens and cut his military cloak in half with a sword, giving half to the beggar. That night St Martin dreamed that Christ came to him wearing the piece he had given away.
The original painting by van Dyck was painted around 1618 and is now an altarpiece in the Church of St Martin in Zaventem, Belgium. A later, larger version of the painting dating from 1620 forms part of the Royal Collection in the King’s Drawing Room at Windsor Castle.
It is a copy of this painting, in which the beggars are joined by a woman, two children and a dog which is held by the Dover Collections, presented to the town by a Mr and Mrs Hall in 1857.
Rebecca Gregg is leading on the conservation of over 20 Maison Dieu portraits, which will be back on show in 2024 following the Lottery funded £10.5m restoration of the Grade I Listed building. Residents and visitors will be able to see her and Jo working on other paintings as part of the building’s ongoing Conservation in Action programme.
Posted on 30 September 2022