MASTERS OF THE ANTWERP BAROQUE
From the early sixteenth to the middle of the seventeenth century, Antwerp was one of the main centres of artistic production in the world. Although today perhaps few people will have heard of the great masters of Antwerp mannerism, such as Maarten de Vos or Frans Floris, almost everyone knows the giants of the Antwerp baroque period, such as Jacques Jordaens, Anthony van Dyck and, of course, Peter Paul Rubens. As these artists were principally active in the first half of the seventeenth century, it is often assumed that as far as artistic production is concerned, Antwerp brought forth very little of note from the 1650’s onwards.
While this is indeed largely true for paintings, a case can be made that in the field of sculpture, that is when things were only just starting to get interesting. Great masters such as Lucas Faydherbe, Artus I and Artus II Quellinus and many others continued working in the baroque tradition started by François Duquesnoy. Fanning out from their native Antwerp to go on to work at royal and imperial courts around Europe, they kept the baroque legacy of Rubens alive until the definitive breakthrough of classicism in the second half of the eighteenth century.
This exhibition does not intend to show an exhaustive overview of the Antwerp baroque from the early 1600’s to the late 1700’s, as even a large museum would regard such an undertaking a challenge - let alone a small gallery! Indeed, it would be neigh-on impossible to find works by many of the greats mentioned above. Instead, we are aiming to illustrate the development of the Antwerp baroque style over the course of two centuries by showcasing a few selected works. Some of these are old friends of the gallery; others are recent discoveries. All, however, have provided us with much pleasure, which we now hope to share with you.