Part III of the Gent trip – Other parts: see earlier posts
As a last minute addition to the program, we visited the Ladies of the Baroque exhibition, as it was the final day of this temporary exhibition. We had only about an hour before the departure of our ride to its next destination so I was told there would be no time for the regular collection and the restoration of the van Eyck altarpiece. (major disappointment – It is not ‘See Naples and die’ it is ‘See the Lamb or die’).
According to the museum’s website it is not allowed to take pictures of temporary exhibitions so I didn’t take any. The paintings on display were by Italian female baroque painters (but there were a couple by men too), including the famous Artemisia Gentileschi, but also Sofonisba Anguissola (1532-1625), Fede Galizia (1578-1630), Giovanna Garzoni (1600-1670), as well as Orsola Maddalena Caccia (1596-1676), Lavinia Fontana (1552-1614), Virginia da Vezzo (1601-1638) and Elisabetta Sirani (1638-1665). It was very crowded and the rooms were very small unfortunately. The selection was relatively small and the paintings were very baroque and carrivagesque, with lots of blood decipitated Holoferneses. I suppose that says a lot about the men in those days, lol. Unfortunately most of the paintings were also – ahm, I’m very sorry, ladies – rather mediocre, apart from Artemisia’s whose paintings stood out amongst the rest. I went to see Michaela Wautier’s baroque paintings at the MAS earlier this year, and admittedly these are from a somewhat later period, but they were so much better overall.
The visit of the ladies took less than expected which left half an hour for the rest of the museum which is a bit of a maze. I decided to concentrate on the Primitives and try to find van Eyck. I got lost at first among some rather strange neoclassicist paintings and bumped into a couple small but very beautiful paintings from a much earlier date. Note that the pictures are not very good as I quickly took them with my phone so I could look them up on the internet.
Small portraits of Lieven Van Pottelsberghe and Livina Van Steelant by Gerard Horenbout, a miniature painter (1465-1541). In real the colours and the faces are amazing.
The medieval paintings ended up being in the rooms immediately on the right of the main hall so I found my way back there and encountered the – almost legendary – panels of the mystic lamb. On Sunday the panels undergoing restoration are displayed behind a window in a small dark corridor, so actually better than when they are working on them, I suppose. No pictures allowed so I’ll borrow a stock version of the middle panel from Wikipedia just for illustration purposes. The panels on display were the bottom parts, ie, the copy of the Judges, the knights, the lamb and the hermits and the other one on the right.
Bizarre to stand so close to the same painting that old Philip once stood before almost 600 years ago (I suppose he did in any case, the reports of the inauguration in 1432 are contradictory, not sure about the B, he was aahhmmm, fickle and not good friends with the Gent people, also he wasn’t born yet) .
In the adjoining rooms there are some other paintings from Burgundian times. There was not much time so I just picked a few to have a good look at. There is a Madonna by Rogier van der Weyden but I took no picture of it. Same for the copy of a Lamentation by Hugo van der Goes. Here is the image from Wikipedia.
The above is a very dramatic Man of Sorrows by an anonymous painter. The angels are a bit funny, not the intention of the artist, I guess.
There was also a small and long painting called Titus’ conquest of Jerusalem, attributed to the Viennese Master of Mary of Burgundy. Upon checking this is a miniature painter who supposedly also provided artwork for Charles the Bold’s prayer book from which I copied a miniature.
And the last painting in the series was interesting for another reason. It is a painting, not in a very good condition, consisting of two small panels, called The Holy Trinity and Saints, dating from 1480-1490, and painted by an anonymous painter. Here they are, you’ll probably see why it struck me.
Everybody is looking away or down, except one guy on the right who seems to look straight at the spectator or at something else outside the small world of this painting, as if he’s looking through a window. It is somewhat eerie. I don’t know if it means something. Maybe it was an heretic, or maybe it is that one person that always spoils the group picture.
That’s all for now, folks.