Portraits from the Renaissance and the Baroque: what do these long-forgotten people from centuries past mean to us? They gaze at us, perhaps with a half-smile, or else ignore us completely. Without uttering a word. All the same, they have so much to tell. About their fascinating lives and who they were or hoped to be. Allow your eyes to stray over these works and discover the many clues they conceal.
The Phoebus Foundation teamed up with the Snyders&Rockox House for an exhibition that highlights the genre of portrait painting in all its facets: from self-portrait to group-portrait. It’s being held at four locations in central Antwerp.
Your host at the Snyders&Rockox House is Nicolaas Rockox himself. He had his own portrait painted several times: as an intellectual, a politician and a society figure. You’ll meet all sorts of contemporaries at his home: distinguished ladies, wealthy gentlemen and dignitaries, but also kitchen maids and merrymakers.
In the Emperor’s Chapel (Keizerskapel), further up Keizerstraat, things are a little more restrained: faith is a serious business, after all. But those who had themselves immortalized as donors still wanted to show their best side.
Exceptional children’s portraits are presented in St Charles Borromeo’s Church. Grateful parents donated these touching likenesses, in which toddlers pose as mini-adults.
And at the Vleeshuis Museum, several monumental paintings by Frans Snyders prove that early-modern people were not just fond of fashion but of fine food too. Besides the portraits themselves, the exhibition presents the accessories with which the sitters posed: games, combs, jewellery and much more besides. Objects that make the portraits even more tangible.