SUBSIDY CONTRACT FOR RESTORATION
Villeroy and Boch is firmly established in the whole region as a company of long-standing tradition, also with regard to historical buildings. While the company headquarters at the old abbey are known far and wide, St Joseph’s Chapel in Mettlach is, even for the local inhabitants, almost hidden in plain sight. Yet precisely this neo-Gothic building dating from 1882 is an “architectural jewel” which, due to much weather-related structural damage, has been undergoing extensive restoration work since 2003.
The German foundation for the protection of historic buildings and monuments (Deutsche Stiftung Denkmalschutz [DSD]) is particularly committed to this project. On 24th November 2011, Dr. Ulrich Bollert, local curator for DSD Saarland, delivered a further subsidy contract, this time over 25,000 euros for the second building phase of the interior reconstruction. The elaborate restoration measures were undertaken from several sides, not only by the owners, Luitwin Gisbert and Wendelin von Boch and the Federal Republic of Germany and Saarland, but also by the DSD.
The contract was handed over in the chapel itself, the original beauty of which is becoming increasingly apparent. The glowing colourfulness of its murals and ceiling frescos and the richly ornamented tile surface of the pillars will surprise many who were previously familiar with them. This is due to the fact that the interior was, from the 1950s, almost completely covered with a layer of white plaster, as the task at that time was to eradicate damage caused by war and weather.
With meticulous restoration work several paintings could be recreated in late Nazarene style. In addition to the compositions in the chancel with four evangelists and the Agnus Dei the eight “Beatitudes” from the Sermon on the Mount now stretch along both long sides. Angels and cherubs can be seen with scrolls from the Beatitudes such as, for example, “Blessed are the peaceful! For they shall be called the children of God.”
This cycle of paintings appears together with two further interior architectural components which are now likewise fully exposed. Firstly – at each side of the church nave – the walls decorated with rosettes, floral motifs and gold elements. Secondly, a two-metre-high tiled pillar, which also leads around the chancel. Its optical solidity stems primarily from its sumptuous colourfulness which is completely rooted in historical taste. They are “Mettlach Tiles”, a series which Villeroy and Boch distributed across the whole of Europe in the 19th century. The company archive in Merzig, which has already brought so many historical details to light – not only with regard to the chapel–, will try to clarify whether the motifs originate from the small batches customary at that time, or whether they were created especially for the chapel.