Artists in the Low Countries were intrigued by the human face and often depicted it. And not only in portraits. They also painted countenances where the model’s identity did not matter. Think of Quinten Metsijs’ grotesque heads, Pieter Bruegel’s peasant mugs, Peter Paul Rubens’ studies of a head and the expressive visages by Adriaan Brouwer and Rembrandt. These works, sometimes called ‘mugs’, do not represent someone but something. Not a specific person but a type, feeling, or character trait.
Turning Heads explores the story behind these intriguing heads and showcases them in all their diversity. Rooted in innovative scholarly research, the project is translated into something light-hearted and accessible. The exhibition features a high-quality selection of some sixty works including prestigious loans of Flemish Masters (Metsijs, Bruegel, Rubens, Van Dyck, Jordaens and Brouwer) and leading international artists (Dürer, Bosch, Barocci, Rembrandt and Vermeer). The Antwerp Old Masters were phenomenal painters of faces.