The masterpieces on loan from the Rubens House | MSK Gent
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The masterpieces on loan from the Rubens House

20230705 MSK Rubenshuis c Martin Corlazzoli COR01808
Jacob Jordaens, 'Self Portrait' (top left) and Jan Boeckhorst & Frans Snijders, 'Peasants on their Way to the Market' (right), Collection City of Antwerp Rubenshuis © Martin Corlazzoli

The Rubens House in Antwerp renews and is temporarily closed. During the closure, the Rubens House is a guest in other museums, including the MSK. Find out below which four works you can see at the museum from now on.

In this colourful scene, the archangel Gabriel tells the Virgin Mary that she will give birth to a son called Jesus. This Christian subject, known as the Annunciation, was a popular theme in painting for centuries. Rubens’ work emphasises both the sacred and secular nature of the event. Gabriel is accompanied by a ray of divine light and two plump putti, the latter of whom shower Mary with petals. Mary receives the message in a domestic interior. The vase of flowers on the table, the sewing basket and the sleeping cat all enhance the intimate atmosphere.

Rubens began this canvas in 1610. That he did not complete it until much later has been deduced from certain stylistic details, such as the use of light and space and the overall dynamism of the scene. Rubens sold the painting to the Marquis of Leganés during a diplomatic visit to the Spanish court in Madrid in 1628. The latter gave it a place in his private chapel.

In this impressive mantel painting, we see a group of peasants taking their goods to market. A young woman with a sumptuous basket of fruit on her head leads the way. Behind her, a joyful young lad seems to be talking to the muscular man pulling a cart. The latter is accompanied by two dogs who have their sights set on the animal carcass. The swan is particularly agitated. More unpleasantness awaits her in the city because, after all, swans were a prized delicacy in the 17th century...

Two of the greatest painters of the Baroque period in Antwerp joined forces to create this monumental scene. Jan Boeckhorst painted the figures while Frans Snijders executed the animals, vegetables and fruit. This successful collaboration provided the buyer with value for money. Both painters worked closely with Peter Paul Rubens during their careers.

Jacques Jordaens is unquestionably one of the grandmasters of the Baroque period in Antwerp. He is famous for his monumental history and genre paintings and his highly versatile artistic temperament, which was influenced by Mannerism, Rubenism and Caravaggism.

In this painting, you meet the master himself. Looking back at us is a self-confident yet modest man with a sheet of paper in his hands. He wears sober but expensive clothes. The portrait is a studio piece to which Jordaens added the finishing touches. In other words: the artist personally decided, quite literally, which of his features he wished to highlight.

A drinking peasant is the protagonist in this detail-rich scene by Adriaen Brouwer. The artist communicates the different degrees of drunkenness and the effects of alcohol consumption to his audience. The peasant, in the midst of a dark tavern, is clearly looking forward to drinking every last drop of his glass of wine, which is full to the brim. The drunks stumbling out the door do not deter him from consuming his drink.

Brouwers’ sense of naturalism is illustrated in the presence of the bread, knife, pewter bowl, wine jug, chalk and cloth, all of which are beautifully rendered. The painting might be the same work that is listed in Rubens’ 1640 inventory as ‘un paysan avec un verre de vin et un pot’ [a peasant with a glass of wine and a pot].