Heritage Days: the scout hall decorated by Hergé
On the occasion of the Heritage Days, which took place on 18 and 19 September in Brussels, the doors of prestigious or unusual places were opened to the public. Over the course of a weekend, they allowed visitors to rediscover the city from a different perspective, to appreciate little-known places, to discover architectural styles or to visit places that are often not easily accessible. This is the case of the friezes designed by the young Hergé to decorate the hut of the Catholic Scouts of Belgium at the Saint-Boniface Institute.
Hergé's frescoes at the Saint-Boniface Institute
Founded in 1866, the Saint-Boniface Institute never ceased to evolve, moving first to the chaussée de Wavre, then to the chaussée d'Ixelles. In 1920, it moved to a new place in the rue du Viaduc. The acquisition in 1911 of the boarding school of the sisters of Saint-Vincent de Paul, rue du Conseil, and the important works that followed, allowed the Institute to have all the space it needed.
In the autumn of 1922, the federation of the Belgian Catholic Scouts encouraged its troops to renovate the headquarters that which had been placed at their disposal. The one before us (8.80 x 3.5 x 3 m) is on the ground floor of the house adjoining the chapel. The Unit's troop leader entrusted the project to a certain Georges Remi, the future Hergé, who, at the age of 15, completed the decor with the scouts of his patrol in the spring of 1923. The budding artist created stencilled friezes with 35 galloping knights one metre above the ground, as well as 52 American Indians and scouts alternating on all fours at ceiling level.
Scouts climbing a rope frame the two doors of the room and the chimney, while others, pulling the same rope back to back, stand over the doors. At the back of the room, a large map lists the troop's camps.
The scout hall were used for other purposes from 1925 onwards, notably as a garage, which saved the frescoes from unfortunate overpainting over the decades. Plunged into a certain anonymity, this testimony to Hergé's early imagination was rediscovered in 2007.