Rubens, Van Dyck and the Splendour of Flemish Painting

30 October 2019 – 16 February 2020

The exhibition will be the fifth part in the series launched by the Department of Old Master Paintings (earlier called the Old Masters’ Gallery) presenting prominent art historical periods and outstanding national schools of painting. The series debuted with a show spanning centuries of Spanish painting and continued with an exhibition of masterpieces of the Italian Renaissance (from Botticelli to Titian) and was followed by Italian sei- and settecento masters (from Caravaggio to Canaletto). The last exhibition before the museum’s reconstruction showcased unparalleled paintings from the Dutch Golden Age and included works by Rembrandt, Vermeer van Delft and Frans Hals; the show attracted almost a quarter of a million visitors. The new exhibition, planned to open in autumn this year, will focus on the 17th-century heyday of painting in Flanders, the other part of the Netherlands, hallmarked by Rubens, Van Dyck and Jordaens.

The exhibition is built on the Museum of Fine Arts’ rich Flemish material but it will also include loans from several renowned foreign collections, such as twenty outstanding masterpieces from The Liechtenstein Princely Collections in Vienna, including a piece (Decius Mus Relating His Dream) from Rubens’s large-scale Decius Mus Cycle, which will be displayed alongside a special tapestry made after the painting and woven with gold and silver thread (Palacio Real, Madrid). These two works will be presented together for the first time. The main goal of the exhibition is to highlight the absolute primacy and pivotal force of Peter Paul Rubens’s artistic output through works in our own collections and the loaned pieces, while showcasing the versatile, stylistically and thematically rich 17th-century Flemish painting, which developed from and alongside Rubens. Besides this, we want to draw attention to the significant activity of Flemish artists in Central Europe as well as the cultural ties between the two cultural regions, in which a key figure was Archduke Leopold Wilhelm of Austria.

The museum loaned works for the show, comprising some 120 exhibits, from 50 or so prominent collections, including the Hermitage, El Prado, the Uffizi, as well as the national galleries of Washington and London. Apart from works by other masters, visitors will be able to see some thirty masterpieces by Rubens and more than ten by Van Dyck.

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