September 22, 2021

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A Glimpse of Antwerp's Greatness in the Seventeenth Century: Restored Rubens House Masterpiece |  Antwerp

A Glimpse of Antwerp’s Greatness in the Seventeenth Century: Restored Rubens House Masterpiece | Antwerp

AntwerpIf you want to get an idea of ​​Antwerp’s cultural elite in the 17th century, you should definitely have a look at “De kunstkamer van Cornelis van der Geest”. And this is possible, because the painting by Willem van Heicht (1593-1637) has been restored and is now at home in the house of Rubens. It is considered one of the highlights of the group.




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.

complex recovery

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. (Read more below the photo)

Fine detail from the painting by Willem van Hacht: The collector Cornelis van der Geest (right) shows a painting of Kitten Matsis by Archduke Albrecht and Isabella (left) © RV

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 paintings. I was short-sighted to see every detail. However, the painting shows at a glance how Greater Antwerp was still in the twilight of our golden age.” (Read more below the photo)

The restoration process revealed details of the original coat of paint, such as the eyes of painter Willem van Hacht.

The restoration process revealed details of the original coat of paint, such as the eyes of painter Willem van Hacht. © RV

Separation

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 drawings. tickets via www.rubenshuis.be

Read also: The Rubenshuis Terrace and Garden Suite sparkles after 1.5 years of restoration. This is celebrated with an Italian garden party for everyone

Antwerp injects €20m into the expansion of Rubens House: ‘Back to the 17th century with 21st century comfort’

Ben van Beneden, Robbins' house manager for 11 years, will retire soon.

Ben van Beneden, Robbins’ house manager for 11 years, will retire soon. © RV

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