CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

Atelier Bouts

Exhibition: 16 February - 28 April 2024

The exhibition Atelier Bouts introduces visitors to the science behind fifteenth-century painting techniques. Six iconic masterpieces from the studio of the Flemish Master Dieric Bouts are examined layer by layer. The exhibition is an intimate follow-up to the international retrospective DIERIC BOUTS. Creator of Images. ​

How did the Flemish Masters create their iconic paintings? And what materials did they use in the various layers? Was Bouts the sole mastermind behind the works that we attribute to his hand? And how should we restore these paintings – some 500 years later? ‘Atelier Bouts’ provides the scientific answers to all these questions.

Visitors will see, in unprecedented detail, six of the most iconic works to have emerged from the studios of Dieric and Albrecht Bouts over five centuries ago. Thanks to state-of-the-art imaging techniques and new material-technical analysis, we know more about the works than ever before: including things that are invisible to the naked eye.

Atelier Bouts (photo: Useful Art Services)

Right down to the sketch

“The exhibition features six masterpieces by Bouts. That alone is exceptional. But for each of the individual paintings, we also explain a technique that has revealed new information about the work. Think of X-ray radiography, paint sample analysis, or infrared reflectography. This latter technology, for example, allows us to look through the paint layers, and to see all the way down to the underdrawing. You suddenly find yourself face to face with the painter’s first, rough sketch,” says David Lainé, conservator and researcher at IPARC/ICM.

“Thanks to dendrochronology, a scientific discipline that allows us to date wood, we know that Dieric Bouts could not have painted the ‘Mater Dolorosa’ (after 1490). Yet it could well have been created in his son Albrecht’s workshop,” David Lainé explains.

At the end of the exhibition, The Martyrdom of Saint Hippolytus will return to St Salvator’s Cathedral in Bruges and the Triptych of the Descent from the Cross, a prestigious loan from Granada, will travel on to the Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage (KIK) for a major restoration campaign. The Last Supper and The Martyrdom of Saint Erasmus, two absolute masterpieces, will be returned to St Peter’s Church. This really is the last chance to see these four works by Bouts together in the same gallery.


To coincide with the exhibition, M is organizing a lecture entitled Dieric Bouts, a prominent city painter and enigma on 21 March 2024. ​Dr Stephan Kemperdick, curator of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin and one of the world’s foremost authorities on Flemish Masters, takes us on a journey in search of Bouts and invites us to enjoy a host of detours and meanderings. Registration essential.