From the museum website, 27 November 2013
Antwerp in the early 17th century. Although the city on the river Scheldt was still licking its wounds after prolonged periods of war, economically and artistically it continued to flourish. With the rise of an affluent bourgeoisie, a new outlet had emerged for the visual arts, in addition to production for the Church and the aristocracy. Status was what these new buyers were after. Not before long, their stately town mansions in this ‘Hollywood on the Scheldt’ would be filled to the rafters with paintings and other art. To meet this huge rise in demand, Antwerp’s artistic fraternity took a step unprecedented in the history of Western art: production was no longer restricted to commissioned work but extended to the open market. Wide landscapes, opulent still-lifes and picturesque scenes of daily life: all tastes were catered for. Printing also flourished, and reproductions of paintings by prominent artists became affordable to all. Moreover, these prints were easy to ship around the world. No wonder that the artistic output from 17th-century Antwerp would continue to reverberate through Western art for centuries to come.
Masterpieces from Antwerp presents a selection from the very best art that was produced in the city during the 17th century: from Peter Paul Rubens to Sir Anthony Van Dyck, and from Jacob Jordaens to David Teniers. Featuring highlights from the collections of Antwerp’s Royal Museum of Fine Arts and Plantin-Moretus Museum – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – this exhibition takes visitors on a fascinating journey through history. It tells the story of Baroque art from Antwerp: a tale of innovation, prestige and effective marketing, as well as daily activity and family life.
The Indian city of Mumbai – which is commonly likened to Hollywood for other reasons – is a logical location to stage this prestigious project on 17th-century art from Antwerp. Both cities are cosmopolitan ports steeped in history and built on a foundation of commerce. By bringing these Baroque masterpieces from Antwerp to Mumbai, the exhibition builds a bridge not only between the two cities, but also between the present and the past.
An exhibition by the City of Antwerp, the Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp (KMSKA), and Museum Plantin-Moretus/Prentenkabinet.