CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

Monday 13 March

In-depth study visits on Monday, 13 May, 15:45-17:15

1. In-depth session on Antwerp altarpieces at the KMSKA with Nico Van Hout

The Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Antwerp (KMSKA) manages an extensive collection of religious art intimately related to the city’s history. This in-depth session will focus on five key altarpieces of the sixteenth (Frans Floris, Maerten De Vos) and seventeenth centuries (Peter Paul Rubens, Jacob Jordaens and Anthony Van Dyck). Patronage and religious context are reviewed alongside issues of attribution and workshop practice, with particular attention to technical and materials research and restoration. This will include a look ahead to the forthcoming restoration of Rubens’s Madonna Enthroned, Surrounded by Saints and the Adoration of the Magi, for which the financing of the research and restoration – to be conducted in view of the public – is now largely complete.

2. Conservation studio of the KMSKA with Gwen Borms

Over the past twenty years, the KMSKA has restored nearly 200 works of art: a tremendous achievement! In our studio visit, Gwen Borms, Head of the Conservation Studio, will discuss discoveries relating to the conservation status and afterlife of several artworks. We will be focusing on the restoration of Quinten Massijs’s Altarpiece of the Guild of the Joiners, the middle panel of which will be being restored at the time of our visit.

3. Storage rooms of the KMSKA with Koen Bulckens

The upgraded KMSKA now possesses internal storage rooms in which to preserve hundreds of artworks. This visit to the storage rooms will focus on some lesser-known pieces from the museum’s collection, dating from the fifteenth to seventeenth centuries.

4. Museum Mayer van den Bergh with Carl Depauw

The collection of the Mayer van den Bergh Museum was built up in the nineteenth century by Fritz Mayer van den Bergh. The museum was opened in 1904 – a few years after the collector’s death – and named after him. Whereas Mayer van den Bergh had previously collected both modern and ancient art, it was in the early 1890s that the nucleus of the collection was acquired. Gothic sculptures and paintings from the early Renaissance and Mannerism such as Bruegel’s Mad Meg (Dulle Griet) are among the highlights of the museum’s collection. This excursion – while the museum is closed to the public – offers an opportunity to view these works at your leisure.

5. Rubens House with Bert Watteeuw

The Rubens House brings visitors closer to Peter Paul Rubens than is possible elsewhere. In 1937, the building on the Wapper was acquired by the City of Antwerp and converted into a museum with an extensive collection of works by the master and his contemporaries. In 2023, the museum will be closing for a four-year renovation and expansion that will include a new entrance building, revised routing throughout the museum, and updated landscaping.  Bert Watteeuw will talk about the plans and their implementation and afterwards participants are given a hard hat tour through the empty museum.

6. St. James’s Church with Jean-Pierre De Bruyn and Bruno Aerts

The Gothic Church of St. James in Antwerp is a time capsule that spirits us back to the past – largely the seventeenth century. Artists like Peter Paul Rubens and Artus II Quellinus lie buried there, and works of art by them and others also hang in the church. The silver and textiles collections are also absolutely worth a visit. The church is currently undergoing large-scale restoration. This operation, which will last until 2027, will restore elements including the roofs, stained glass windows, and statues, as well as the plastering and painting. One consequence will be to reveal a number of old murals that are currently obscured by white paint. During this field trip, CODART members will get an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the church’s restoration.

7. DIVA with Wim Nys

DIVA is the museum for diamonds, jewelry and silver in the diamond capital of the world: Antwerp. The museum owns an internationally-renowned collection of Flemish work in precious metals, stones and jewelry that forms the starting point of the permanent collection and temporary exhibitions. DIVA is currently renewing the display of its permanent collection, and will reopen to the public on 24 March. On 13 March, CODART members will be given an early opportunity to take a look behind the scenes, with DIVA’s team serving as expert guides.