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Hubert Vos en de keizerin

Documentary, 2008, 64 min.

This documentary links the painting of a portrait of the Chinese empress Cixi in 1905 by Hubert Vos from Limburg to the restoration, over a century later, of the same portrait by a group of Limburg restorers. One hundred years later, the cultural differences between the Netherlanda and China turn out to be just as big.
Hubert Vos, a naturalized American, was asked to paint a portrait of the Chinese empress. He was immediately impressed by the 72-year-old woman, who was reputed to be very cruel. In only four sessions, he had the opportunity to sketch her. As she stressed to him she did not want a portrait, but a monument, he represented her as a woman of thirty.
In the voice-over, actor Johan Leysen reads from the notes Vos made. Parallel to it, we see the restoration process of the canvass, which after a century-long stay in a draughty unheated room almost had to be considered lost. The restorers run up against the same problems as Vos did in his day, so it remains exciting to see whether they will be able to finish their job.





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