CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

Adriaen Brouwer: Master of Emotions

15 September - 16 December 2018

Adriaen Brouwer: Master of Emotions

Exhibition: 15 September - 16 December 2018

In 2018 the MOU -Museum of Oudenaarde and the Flemish Ardennes- will stage an ambitious exhibition dedicated to Adriaen Brouwer (ca. 1606, Oudenaarde – 1638, Antwerp): Adriaen Brouwer. Master of Emotions. The exhibition is organized in close collaboration with the Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp, currently closed for a thorough renovation and the official partner of the event.

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Adriaen Brouwer (1605-1638), The Card Players, ca. 1625-1638
The Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Antwerp


Adriaen Brouwer was born in Oudenaarde c. 1606 as the son of a ‘tapijtsier’.  At a fairly young age, Brouwer travelled to the Netherlands staying, among other places, in Amsterdam and Haarlem. Afterwards he settled in Antwerp where he already died in 1638. In spite of a short and turbulent life, Brouwer left an impressive oeuvre: relatively small in scale but of the highest artistic quality. From an art-historical point of view, Adriaen Brouwer’s oeuvre is of the utmost importance: as a key figure he bridges the sixteenth-century Bruegel tradition and the genre and landscape scenes of the seventeenth century. Brouwer’s renown in his own time and the appreciation by masters such as Rubens, Rembrandt and Van Dyck sharply contrasts with the perception of the painter today; to the large public Adriaen Brouwer is relatively unknown. The last exhibition devoted to the artist took place in the Alte Pinakothek in Munich in 1986 and the most ‘recent’ art-historical survey dates from the same year. Moreover, this exhibition was solely devoted to Brouwer’s peasant scenes, a characteristic but also clichéd aspect of his art. Adriaen Brouwer. Master of Emotions is the first monographic show devoted to the artist. It will offer visitors the unique opportunity to get acquainted with the work of this forgotten Flemish master.

The exhibition will be hosted in the historic city hall of Oudenaarde (1526-1537), one of the rare authentic examples of late Gothic civic architecture in Belgium. We will show approximately fifty-five paintings, prints and drawings; thirty of which are by the artist’s own hand, and twenty-five by artists from Brouwer’s close circle. We present a representative selection that emphasizes the high artistic quality, the innovative character and the versatility of Adriaen Brouwer’s art. It will be the first time that a substantial part of Brouwer’s known oeuvre will be assembled, moreover in the artist’s native city. The fact that these works from various private and public collections from all over Europe, Great Britain and the United States will be shown together for the first time in Oudenaarde makes this exhibition unique and a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Scientific research

The preparation of the exhibition encompasses a large-scale, interdisciplinary research of Adriaen Brouwer’s life and work. Besides a thorough investigation and delineation of Brouwer’s oeuvre this also includes archival research in Belgium and the Netherlands. The scientific exhibition committee consists of the following members: Prof. dr. Manfred Sellink (Royal Museum of Fine Arts / Ghent University); Prof. dr. Koenraad Jonckheere (Ghent University / Centrum Rubenianum); dr. Nico Van Hout (Royal Museum of Fine Arts); dr. Karolien De Clippel (Modemuseum Hasselt); dr. Mirjam Neumeister (Alte Pinakothek, Munich); Mrs. Geertrui Van Kerkhoven (Museum of Oudenaarde and the Flemish Ardennes) and dr. Katrien Lichtert (Ludens).

Adriaen Brouwer, Flemish mastery and Oudenaarde tapestry

Together with Rubens, Van Dyck and Jordaens, Brouwer belonged to the four famous Flemish seventeenth-century masters. The exhibition Adriaen Brouwer. Master of Emotions specifically focuses on Flemish mastery and Brouwer’s important role as the successor of Pieter Bruegel the Elder on one hand, and as a friend and contemporary of Peter Paul Rubens on the other. Rubens valued Brouwer’s work highly and the baroque master possessed an astonishing number of ‘Brouwers’; he owned no less than seventeen original paintings what makes Brouwer the artist who was best represented in Rubens’ impressive collection. Moreover, during his late years, Rubens was highly influenced by Brouwer’s art, as well from an iconographic as from a technical point of view. The paintings of Adriaen Brouwer and David (II) Teniers -Brouwers most popular successor- later inspired the Oudenaarde cartoon painters and weavers to produce the so-called tenières. Hence the link between Brouwer and the mastery of tapestry in Oudenaarde is further emphasized.