A hundred years before the Spanish conquerors brought cocoa, and with it the secrets of dark chocolate to Belgium, between the 15th and 17th centuries, Flemish art was at its peak, with Flanders, in northern Belgium its epicentre. It was then that artists who painted religious and mythological themes or portraits of kings and queens indulged in genre painting, capturing day-to-day lives of the common man. They even tried their hand at still life.
This year, the museum of Antwerp closed for renovation, and thus, decided to exhibit original works by their famous artists, including Peter Paul Rubens, Anthony Van Dyck, Jacob Jordaens, Jan Brueghel I, David Teniers II, Frans Snijder and Jan Fijt, in other countries. While most of the paintings are oils, some are on canvas. Many have been created on copper sheets. Exhibition consultant, Ranade at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS), says, “The use of copper sheets is a typical Dutch and Flemish style. The smooth surface of the sheets allows smaller brush strokes and more detailing in the work.”
Every year, the city museum looks to bring international exhibitors, and this year when the Antwerp Port Authority and the City of Antwerp got in touch with CSMVS, they jumped at the opportunity. “There will be 28 collections of the Royal Museum of Fine Arts, and 25 engravings from the print room of the Plantin-Moretus Museum,” he says. While it does take some effort to prepare the venue for exhibiting international works, art lovers will really enjoy this show.
Preparations are on in full swing for the show, which opens on November 28. According to Raj Khalid, India representative of Port of Antwerp Authority, the paintings have been flown in and the temperature of the crates is being stabilised before opening them and putting them up at the museum.
Apart from the exhibition, the CSMVS will also conduct programmes for school groups such as activity trails, teacher’s resources, short lectures and presentations. A guided tour of the Masterpieces exhibition will be conducted in English, Hindi and Marathi between 11 am and 2.30 pm free of cost. Also, Tactile tours, customised for visually impaired children, with 3D models and 3D printing are also part of the schedule.