Visitors to Antwerp's Rockox House will get an impression of the opulence of the 17th century town houses of the city. Top pieces from Antwerp's Royal Museum of Fine Arts (KMSKA), currently closed for restoration, and the most important works from the Rockox House Museum transform this former burgomaster's patrician residence into a luxurious art cabinet.
During the 16th and 17th centuries, a number of the world's most renowned art collections were in Antwerp, but sadly few remain intact today, having since been dispersed.
The exhibition The Golden Cabinet. Royal Museum at the Rockox House takes the visitor into the world of wealthy 17th century citizens. What the home of the former burgomaster and patrician looked like, we know from his inventory and the painting The art cabinet of Nicolaas Rockox by Frans Francken the Younger (now in the Alte Pinakothek in Munich). More than 100 top works from Antwerp's Royal Museum of Fine Arts (KMSKA), and the most important works from the Rockox House Museum collection will be transforming Rockox's Keizerstraat residence into an example of what a rich Antwerp art collection of the Golden Century must have resembled: The Golden Cabinet. Paintings on display include those by Jan van Eyck, Rogier van der Weyden, Hans Memling, Peter Paul Rubens and Anthony van Dyck.
The Golden Cabinet occupies five rooms in the patrician's residence, the first two of which are devoted to late mediaeval painting, with a great deal of attention and space being given to the works of art as such. To decorate the other rooms or saletten, the curators Hildegard Van de Velde (Rockox House Museum) and Nico Van Hout (KMSKA) have been inspired by Baroque art rooms, with their traditional gold leather wall covering, bedecked floor to ceiling with paintings as was then the fashion. Mantelpieces reveal the original functions of the rooms one by one: the kitchen, the reception room, and the study. Precious furniture, marble busts, bound books of engravings, shells and rare items illustrate the fact that Antwerp was the production and trading centre for luxury items of the time.
Jan Sanders van Hemessen's picture of Saint Jerome occupied a place of honour in Rockox's art gallery or groote saleth and is currently the only work from Rockox's original collection that is in situ in the museum that was his house. This second small-scale exhibition within the context of The Golden Cabinet attempts to determine St. Jerome's place in the pictorial art of the Renaissance and the Baroque in Western Europe.
Venue: Museum Rockox House, Keizerstraat 12, 2000 Antwerp
T +32 (0)3 201 92 50/ F +32 (0)3 201 92 51
Online Application: The Golden Cabinet
More info: www.kmska.be