The Cathedral of Our Lady (Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekathedraal) was built between 1350 and 1520 on the Antwerp site of the early Romanesque chapel. It would be the largest Gothic church in the Low Countries. In spite of the successive ravages wrought on its artistic heritage by the fire in 1533, the Iconoclastic Fury, and the French Revolution, the collection possesses almost 3,000 registered objects, representing a wide range of art forms within Flemish religious art. Today, the cathedral has the appearance of an artwork that has grown organically and exemplifies what was on display in other abbeys and churches. The artworks present views of different historical periods: the fourteenth-century Madonna by the Maasland Master, the fifteenth-century keystones, the bronze funerary statue of Isabella of Bourbon, Antwerp School paintings from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and the eighteenth-century pulpit. Sculpture, stained glass, textile crafts, and work in precious metals are all represented. The absolute highlights of the collection, however, are the masterpieces by Maerten de Vos and Peter Paul Rubens. The Descent from the Cross is seen as epitomizing the work of Rubens and Baroque painting in general. Two of the four Rubens paintings were created for the places where they are displayed today. The dual status of works that are both altarpieces and sublime masterpieces of Flemish art history adds an extra dimension.
Kathedrale Kerkfabriek Onze-Lieve-Vrouw (April 2022)