Archdukes Albrecht and Isabella, masters Peter Paul Rubens and Anthony Van Dyck, but also Mayor Nicolaas Rockox: They belong to the “who’s who” you see in the main work. Artist Willem van Heicht focused on painting art rooms. It grew into a separate genre in the 17th century. Its success was due to collectors who wanted to show off their collection.
The spice merchant Cornelis van der Geest (1575-1638) was a spice collector. Of course you see it on canvas: it shows a painting by Quentin Matsis of Archduke.
Unfortunately, the ravages of time have also struck. In April 2019, she left the Van Hagt Art Room for the Royal Institute of Cultural Heritage (KIK) in Brussels for research and restoration. The condition of the oak board was worrisome: the tension between seven horizontal boards and one vertical one had become so great that the coating was cracking, with open joints and visible damage.
Restorer Aline Genbrugge even used technology from the aviation industry to create a second, highly flexible “conveyor.” The method of framing the canvas ensures that the painting has plenty of freedom of movement. The climate box is integrated into the frame that protects the work from fluctuations in temperature and humidity. In short: the painting can withstand several generations.
Praise the art of Antwerp
Local council member Nabila Ait Daoud (N-VA) is very happy with him. “The work is an ode to Antwerp’s paintings. I was short-sighted to see every detail. However, the painting shows at a glance how wonderful Antwerp was in the twilights of our golden age.”
With the return of the “Art Room at Cornelis van der Geest” to the Rubens home, director Ben van Beneden begins the final weeks before his retirement. He has headed the Robbins House since 2010. His focus has been to re-evaluate and enrich the collection and the Robbins House. Van Beneden ensured, among other things, that the restoration of the portico and garden pavilion – still designed by Rubens – was completed in 2019. In the past decade, the number of visitors to Rubens House has increased from 140,000 to 210,000 (2019).
During Culture Weekend (August 27-29), van Beneden highlights the complex meaning of Willem van Heicht’s paintings. tickets via www.rubenshuis.be
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