De 'neoromaanse' restauratie van de Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk te Maastricht
Our Lady's Church in Maastricht, a classic example of the Romanesque style, was thoroughly restored between 1886 and 1917 by P.J.H. Cuypers, who charged his son J.Th.J. Cuypers with the day-to-day management. His first action was in 1858, but the plans developed then were not executed. It was not until 1886 that a start was made with the work, a considerable part of which was subsidized by the central government under Cuypers's friend and supporter, the head of department Victor de Stuers.
Cuypers was the most productive restoration architect in The Netherlands in the previous century. His views can be traced back to the views on architecture of the Neo Gothic movement and of Viollet-le-Duc. According to this line of thought restoration is creating an ideal situation, fixing the historical values of the monument at a significant moment, improving and surpassing the historical example, combined with an adaptation to contemporary liturgical desires.
The approach to the church in Maastricht comprised the restoration of the stylistic unity by removing or replacing baroque and later components, rebuilding dilapidated parts such as the south transept and the choir towers, the restoration of the nave and the choir aisle and finally applying a complete Neo-Romanesque decoration of the church interior. The ribbed vaults of the choir aisle and the Gothic flying buttresses against the entirely rebuilt apsis wall disappeared, because they did not fit in with the Romanesque image. The eighteenth-century windows were also replaced by Romanesque ones.
The painting of the interior was executed wholly in accordance with the ideas of Viollet-le-Duc, who took the view that decorative painting influenced(?) the space in question, making it seem larger or smaller, lighter or darker. The architect here made a combination of painted imitation of masonry and profiles with deplastered masonry in the pillars and arches, a clear example of the honest use of material so characteristic of the late nineteenth century. Nevertheless, a lot of the building traces, the greater part of the baroque furniture and the eighteenth-century stellar vaults were preserved in the reconstructed(?) church.
Unfortunately, during restorations between 1965 and 1985 the entire medieval roofing was lost without any documentation. The murals could only survive the avalanche of criticism of Cuypers's applied art due to the intervention of the Dutch Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission. For that reason the church has now become a rare document of nineteenth-century conservation of monuments.