Magnificently restored, thanks to support from the Léon Courtin-Marcelle Bouché Fund, managed by the King Baudouin Foundation, the Vierge des Vertus (Virgin of the Virtues), created by Walthère Damery, will shortly be inaugurated in the Church of Saint John the Baptist in Herve, Liege.
The Church of Saint John the Baptist in Herve will soon be the new home of this painting by Walthère Damery (1614-1678). The work will occupy a central position in the choir of the church, which has been without a high altar since 1970. With this new addition, the Church of Saint John the Baptist will become a centre that is representative of various cultural trends that marked the region of Liege during the third quarter of the 17th century.
Liege artist Walthère Damery painted historical scenes and landscapes but he was also an excellent portrait painter. Close to the classicism of the Liege movement, he was influenced by the Boulogne School as well as Italian Baroque. Like numerous artists in the Principality of Liege, Damery carried out commissions for religious institutions.
Completed in 1671, the Vierge des Vertus was originally installed in the Sainte-Foy Church in Liege. Represented in all her glory and with a halo of stars, the Immaculate Conception is depicted surrounded by twelve characters representing the virtues and she is standing on evil, in the form of a dragon. During World War II, the canvas was detached from its frame and folded in order to protect it from harm, but this unfortunately resulted in serious damage. In 1977 the work was put into storage at the Museum of Religious and Mosan Art. Thanks to a sponsor, the painting underwent a first phase of restoration in 1984, but it did not recover its previous brilliance. In 2015, financed by the Léon Courtin-Marcelle Bouché Fund, managed by the King Baudouin Foundation, the work underwent a second period of restoration.