Rockox House

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A Dutch Breakfast by Floris van Schooten, first half of 17th century, oil on panel. Perhaps coincidentally, I was drawn to ordering the cheese platter for dessert at lunchtime.

img_9001At present, the Rockox House is hosting a number of paintings from the Fine Arts Museum – but not too many of them – so it was a delight to visit. The objects ranged from small panels of a Simone Martini altarpiece to Baroque still lives. img_9004Things to remember:

  • The liminal space in Netherlandish painting, where figures are depicted on the edges of different spaces (e.g. interior and exterior).
  • Even still life paintings can be Baroque, with extravagant drapery, like Willem van Aelst’s Fruit and Wineglass, with its wonderful reflections in the wineglass.
  • There was a Chinese porcelain plate with a copy of Rubens’ Coup de Lance crucifixion scene from the early 18th century. It was a bit weird – but no weirder than English willow pattern plates, I suppose. Apparently there is something called “Jesuit porcelain”; those boys certainly got around.
  • Don’t forget the technical aspects: oil paint with elements such as lead give a drier appearance than oil with organic colours.
  • Things that we barely give a thought to now – like coral and pineapples – were once highly prized. (Just think of tulips.)

There was one very odd painting that really does look as if it has been lifted from a sex toys catalogue:

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Madonna surrounded by seraphim and cherubim, Jean Fouquet, oil on panel, ca. 1450

Apparently the surrealists liked it.

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