The exhibition 17th and 18th-century terracottas comprises over 50 statues from the collection of the Antwerp art dealer Charles van Herck (Antwerp 1884 – 1955). This art lover was a respected authority on 17th and 18th-century sculpture, who gradually built up his collection with a keen eye and great knowledge of the subject, collecting masters such as Artus Quellinus, Hiëronymus Duquesnoy and Michael Rysbrack.
Most of the terracottas give wonderful insight into the creative process of the artist. On display are bozetti; quick sketches intended to work out an idea in clay. Bozetti are rare, as they were usually thrown away. The exhibition also includes many modelli, which are the last and most detailed versions that served as the basis for the final sculpture. Modelli were also presented to the patron for approval. These detailed designs were usually kept and are now often considered art works in their own right. After all, terracottas formed part of the stock-in-trade of the early modern sculptor’s atelier. They were used as study material and a transmission medium for ideas and compositions.