Hergé frescoes – Institut Saint-Boniface

A. de Ville de Goyet ©

The Institut Saint-Boniface has been evolving constantly since its foundation in 1866. It was initially based in Chaussée de Wavre/Waversesteenweg, later moving to Chaussée d’Ixelles/Elsensesteenweg. In 1920, it finally settled in new premises in Rue du Viaduc/Viaductstraat following its 1911 acquisition of the home/boarding school run by the Sisters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul of Gijzegem in Rue du Conseil/Raadstraat and a major renovation of the complex: at last, the institute had all the space it needed. In 1922, the Belgian Catholic Scouts federation encouraged its troops to refurbish the rooms that had been made available to them. The room we are interested in is 8.8 metres deep, 3.5 metres wide and 3 metres high and is on the ground floor of the house adjoining the chapel. The Cub Scout leader entrusted its redecoration to the 15-year-old Georges Rémy, better known as Hergé, who completed the task in spring 1923. The budding artist created a series of stencil friezes featuring 35 knights galloping one metre above the ground and 52 Indians and scouts crawling around the room’s walls, directly below the ceiling. Scouts clamber up ropes on either side of the two doors and chimney, while above the doors, groups of scouts standing back to back pull on these ropes. As a backdrop, Hergé uses three colours: brown for the first 97 centimetres, then pale green for 1.8 metres and finally yellow for the remaining 23 centimetres. The room was used for other purposes from 1925 onwards (primarily as a garage) and the frescoes were forgotten about until their recent rediscovery. Many people are now curious to see this intriguing testament to Hergé’s precocious imagination. (Listed 18/03/1999)

Commentary available on the history of the frescoes.

The exhibition “Hergé and scouting at Saint-Boniface” features photographs of the Saint-Boniface scouting unit in Hergé’s day and showcases (copies of) drawings he produced while a member of the unit.

Practical information

Sat. & Sun., 10:00 to 18:00

Rue du Conseil/Raadstraat 57, Ixelles/Elsene

By reservation only

2 6 Porte de Namur - Naamsepoort
54 71 Quartier Saint-Boniface - Sint-Bonifaaswijk
Accessible with assistance

Accessible with assistance