Musea Brugge and Radboud University, Nijmegen
Information from the organizers
For ten days, 26 January – 4 February, 2007, two spectacular exhibitions: ‘Faith & Fortune’ and ‘Beauty and Madness’ will be on display in Bruges (Flanders) in the Palace of Louis de Gruuthuse and in the connected church of Our Lady. Both exhibitions focus on the later Middle Ages: ‘Faith & Fortune’ explores the connection between jewellery and devotion, while ‘Beauty and Madness’ examines the art associated with Duke Philip the Fair of Burgundy on the 500th anniversary of his death.
In the Palace of Louis de Gruuthuse, ‘Faith and Fortune’ investigates how both the common people and the elite adorned themselves with badges and studies the meaning of these badges. Presenting some 550 late medieval badges (all produced and/or found in Flanders) in conjunction with 250 devotional objects including paintings, illuminated manuscripts, sculpture, goldsmith work, utensils, images of saints, and rosaries, this show seeks to prove that when a person wore a badge (whether voluntarily or through obligation) they intended to send a message. Because of common themes and visual ideas, other people could easily read the often-complex message. The badges served as a bridge between ‘high’ and ‘low’ cultures using medieval visual language.
Complementing ‘Faith and Fortune’, in the Church of Our Lady, where the heart of Philip was once buried, ‘Beauty and Madness’ will investigate the art created around the reign of Philip I the Fair, the last duke of Burgundy, archduke of Austria and king of Castile (Bruges, 1478 – Burgos, 1506), who was married to Joan the Mad. Fifty masterpieces –- portrait paintings, tapestries, manuscripts and other works of art – present this complicated monarch on a rich historical stage, including the life at court, the knightly rituals, courtly etiquette, and the role the arts played in the lives of the sovereign and those around him. These themes come to life when viewed within the context of the Church of Our Lady, where the magnificent sepulchral monuments of Philip’s ancestors, Charles the Bold and Mary of Burgundy, lay, where elaborate choir stalls are surmounted by the panels of the chivalric order associated with the Burgundian Dukes, the Knights of the Golden Fleece, and where the monumental painted altarpiece by Bernard van Orley still stands.
The late Gothic oratory, built in 1472 by Louis de Gruuthuse, Knight of the Golden Fleece, connected his palace to the choir of the Church of Our Lady. This serves as the concrete connection between the two exhibitions: courtly and popular culture, religious and profane arts, court and town, life and death. These exhibitions together provide a unique view on an age of unparalleled cultural flowering of Flemish and Western European history.
This congress is made possible by the generous support of the Museums of Bruges and the Radboud University Nijmegen, together with the Friends of the Bruges Museums, the Flemish Dutch Committee (FWO-NWO) and the Dutch Postgraduate School for Art History.