Nicolaas Rockox (1560-1640) was a highly respected Antwerp citizen of many talents who played a major political role during the first half of the 17th century. In addition, he was a respected humanist, antiquary, humanist, numismatist, patron and art collector.
Rockox bought his patrician residence – today home to the Museum Rockoxhuis – in 1603 and the following year acquired the book Le théâtre d’agriculture by the architect Olivier de Serres, which includes guidelines for laying out a garden and the architect’s ground plans. These provided us with inspiration to evoke a historical town garden.
In 1609 and 1610, Rockox received a delivery of plants, shrubs and saplings from the French humanist and botanist Nicolaas Claude Fabri de Peiresc. Thanks to surviving letters that accompanied the consignment, we know exactly which plant types Rockox received. Lastly, we still have the inventory that was drawn up following Nicolaas Rockox’ death on 20 December 1640, in which is recorded that he had 2 bay and 10 orange trees overwintering in his cellars.
It was partly on the basis of these documents that, in the spring of 2002, the inner courtyard of the Rockox House was recreated as a model early seventeenth-century town garden.
This year the court garden was adjusted and new plants and flowers were added. The Rockoxmuseum presents the new garden with an exhibition that shows the sources of the reconstruction.