Art trail to reveal 60 hidden works by Flemish masters
Flanders is offering a preview of its 2019 campaign Flemish Masters in Situ to show residents and tourists that not all masterpieces are in museums
The new art trail Flemish Masters in Situ has been launched to guide visitors to works across the region – from city centre mansions to countryside chapels – by the Flemish Primitives and Baroque masters. Tourism minister Ben Weyts announced the campaign recently at Den Wolsack in Antwerp.
Some of the buildings that make up Den Wolsack date as far back as the 14th century. But it was a rich 18th-century Antwerp merchant who bought the residential complex and added the prized Hofkamer. It was a reception and meeting place hidden behind his home’s grand entrance in a lush garden.
The building is striking for many reasons, but its pièce de résistance is “Gods on Mount Olympus”, the largest painting on a single canvas in Western Europe. Created for the ceiling of the Hofkamer, it utilised an arching effect to make it appear that the heavens were suspended above the room.
60 sites by next summer
“Gods” was absent for many years while it was being restored. In 2016, the work returned to the Hofkamer ceiling with much fanfare (and police surveillance). A year later the Hofkamer, which had also been closed for conservation, re-opened to the public. The artists who created “Gods” are not known, though it is clear that there was more than one.
The Flemish Masters in Situ website currently only lists four locations: In addition to “Gods”, visitors can discover the locations of Anthony van Dyck’s “Adoration of the Shepherds”, Ruben’s “Saint Roch appointed by Christ as Patron of the Plague Victims” and Melchior de la Mars’s “Circumcision of Christ”.
But by next summer, 60 sites will be revealed. Flemish Masters in Situ is really a 2019 campaign, but Weyts and public art organisation Openbaar Kunstbezit Vlaanderen chose to launch it in Antwerp last week to coincide with the city’s extensive Baroque year.
Flemish radio station Klara, however, got a sneak preview of nine additional sites, linked to from the campaign website.
Next year, when the campaign really gets going, visitors will be able to obtain stamps at every site in a special brochure. If they visit all 60, they can get a commemorative book on all of the works.
Photo: “Gods on Mount Olympus” on the ceiling of Antwerp’s Hofkamer
Van Eyck brothers create The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, also known as the Ghent Altarpiece, one of the masterpieces of the period
visitors attended first-ever exhibition about Flemish primitives in Bruges in 1902
million euro, cost of Ghent altarpiece restoration, due to be completed in 2017