Is Justice Blind? Art and Law in the Low Countries 1450-1650

Is Justice Blind? Art and Law in the Low Countries 1450-1650

Call for Justice is the opening exhibition of the refurbished Museum Hof van Busleyden in the Flemish town of Mechelen, Belgium.

The Museum is being relaunched as a museum devoted to the Burgundian and early Habsburg culture in the Netherlands. It is housed in the former home of the important jurist and member of the Burgundian Great Council, Hieronymus van Busleyden. Erasmus and Thomas Morus were guests at this house.

Call for Justice explores the rich and fascinating interaction between art, judicial practice and the idea of justice in the Netherlands between the middle of the fifteenth and the middle of the seventeenth century.

Paintings, sculptures, drawings and prints are shown within the turbulent legal, political and cultural context in which they were created: the unification of the Netherlands, the growing absolutism of Charles V, the reformation, the revolt against Spain and the colonisation of the New World.

Discover work by artists such as Quinten Massys, Maarten van Heemskerck, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Peter Paul Rubens and Antony van Dyck.

Did you know that the blindfolded Justice first symbolized sheer ignorance and poor judgment before her blindfold became an attribute of wise and unbiased judgment?

My favourite is a small painting, a copy of a work by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Christ and the Woman Taken in Adultery. You can see Jesus, kneeling and  writing in the sand with his finger: “Die sonder sonden is die…”  – “He who is without sin”… Let him first cast a stone at her. The woman stands alone, humble, her sins already forgiven and her life spared. Justice begins with self-knowledge. But compassion transcends the law.

The Museum Hof van Busleyden reopens officially on 17 June 2018. Call for Justice runs until 24 June 2018.

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