From 2 February 2013 at the Rockox House.
During the latter part of the sixteenth century and the early part of the seventeenth, the Scheldt city of Antwerp enjoyed an especially favourable artistic and economic climate that made it the prime production and trading centre for luxury articles. It was a time when many patricians and merchants built up rich collections of contemporary and ancient art, though the majority of those collections have – alas – come to be dispersed in the course of time.
A luxurious art cabinet
From 2 February 2013, however, visitors to the Rockox House in Antwerp will be able to see how an Antwerp art collection must have appeared in the Golden Century. More particularly, the residence of burgomaster and patron Nicolaas Rockox (1560–1640) is being transformed into a luxurious art cabinet with top items from the Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp(closed for renovation) and the most important works from the Rockox House itself. On display will be a range of fine paintings by such masters as Rogier Van der Weyden, Hans Memling, Jan Van Eyck, Peter Paul Rubens and Antoon Van Dyck.
Focus 4: Abraham Ortelius, under the spell of classical antiquity
From 24 April to 16 August 2015
Abraham Ortelius (1527 – 1598) is generally recognised as having created the first modern atlas, the Theatrum Orbis Terarum (Theatre of the World), published in Antwerp in 1570. He is also believed to be the first person to have questioned the early historical maps, proposing instead that the continents had been joined together before drifting apart to their current position. Ortelius also had a passionate interest in the history of classical antiquity and in Biblical history. He was a keen numismatist. His collection included coins dating back to the latter years of the Roman Empire. To him, coins, and especially Roman coins, brought to life the history of those times.
It is not without reason, therefore, that Ortelius finds his place in the Rockox House. Nicolaas Rockox (1560-1640) and Ortelius (1527-1598) were friends. They shared a passion for collecting coins. Rockox had all Ortelius’s major publications in his library, and a portrait of Ortelius hung in Rockox’s ‘art room’.
This exhibition will include a range of historical maps together with some printed works showing Ortelius’s reconstructions. Visitors will be able to follow how he collected his knowledge and then visualised it in map book form.
Abraham Ortelius, under the spell of classical antiquity is a joint venture with the Plantin-Moretus Museum / Print Collection in Antwerp, co-organised by Dr Dirk Imhof, curator of the Plantin-Moretus Museum and Hildegard Van de Velde, curator of the Rockox House Museum.
Create your very own art cabinet
For this exhibition, the Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp has developed an online application for smartphone, tablet and pc. By surfing to www.hetguldencabinet.be you will discover all there is to know about the artworks in featured in The Golden Cabinet. Stroll through the rooms of Museum Rockoxhouse with your smartphone or tablet, and gain quick and easy access to information about all the items on show. Zoom in for close-up views of paintings and sculptures. Select your favourite pieces before, during or after your visit and compile your own private collection, just like Nicolaas Rockox did throughout his life. If you launch the webapp from a pc or laptop at home, you can arrange your favourite paintings and objects in your personal art cabinet using a picture of your own living room, dining room or even bathroom. There are attractive monthly prizes to be won for the best cabinets.
Download the visitors' guide (PDF, 20 MB)