After about 10 years, the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium have reopened the permanent wing with Dutch Masters. At the same time there are two exhibitions, called Dutch Spring, that focus on the master-painters of the Golden Age. You can admire both the family portraits of Frans Hals and the 18th-century art of drawing.
The renovated wing ‘Dutch Galleries’ welcomes portraits, landscape, genre scenes and still lifes; and offers an extensive panorama of the fascinated artistic period that the Golden Age was. It reunites Rembrandt van Rijn, Jan Steen, Frans Hals, Jacob van Ruisdael and their many colleagues. These Dutch Masters were hardly exhibited in Brussels for years. Of the 320 paintings from the famous Golden Age owned by the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, only seven have been on permanent display in the past 10 years.
As long as the Royal Museum of Fine Arts of Antwerp remains closed, only one Rembrandt can be seen in Belgium in a public collection: the portrait of Nicolaes Van Bambeeck from Brussels. The painting from 1641 hangs prominently in the first room of the renovated museum wing. Van Bambeeck was Rembrandt's neighbor. The portrait of his wife, Agatha Bas, which was painted at the same time, hangs at the Queen in Buckingham Palace.
Rembrandt van Rijn, Nicolaes Van Bambeeck, 1641 © Royal Museum of Fine Arts of Belgium, Brussels
A family reunion
Three fragments of the Portrait of the Van Campen family by master-painter Frans Hals (1582– 1666) are reunited for the first time in over 200 years, after the painting was separated at the beginning of the 19th century. The masterpiece is joined by the other three family portraits that Frans Hals painted during his lifetime, showing the brilliancy with which the artist set new standards for Western art.
Frans Hals, The Van Campen Family in a Landscape, 1624
A cabinet of drawings
During the 18th century, collecting drawings and print became widely popular in the Northern Netherlands. In the exhibition A Cabinet of the Most Delightful Drawings, 80 works on paper from the collections of the Royal Museums of Fine Arts show the fascinating diversity in subject and technique which characterizes Dutch drawing at that time.