There’s this one museum that I’ve spent the most of my museum time in, the Museum of Fine Arts in Brussels. Either in group or on my own initiative. The reason why I keep visiting is because of the fact that it’s quite cheap for a student to view such a grand collection (only €3!), ranging from the 1500 until now.
With visiting more than once and spread over a large period of time, you notice the changes the museum encounters. The perfect example, the empty wall shown on the following photo. There used to hang two grand pieces by Italian artists, Jusepe De Ribera and Carlo Maratta, which show two different scenes from the life of Apollo. I looked forward to seeing these pieces again because of the contrast that’s clearly present. I was a bit disappointed that I couldn’t see them again, but there is a small crack in the wall and the museum is going through some changes, which is why they (probably) are safely stored in the depot, which is for the best.
Walking along into the next room you enter a whole other time period. The first work that catches the eye is the monumental piece of Dirk Bouts. If you love stories as much as I do, you’ll love this piece. In just two frames the artist shows a whole story. It’s supposed to be read in a circle movement, beginning with the pair behind the wall on the left panel, following the man in the white gown, to the lady on the right panel holding a heated iron, to the lady getting burned on the top right. It’s a bit silly but I can’t remember the full story anymore.
What I love about this period is the search for the right representation of the world, the very detailed clothes or landscapes and the search for the perfect perspective and human body.
One room is dedicated to the work of Pieter I Bruegel. His work is filled with all kinds of different stories in just one image. There’s so much to see, you could spent, optimistically, hours in front of his paintings. Ofcourse these pieces are very well received by the youth, which is why the guided tours always spent a lot of time in front of these pieces.
The Fall of the rebellious angels might be my favourite work of his. It’s filled with all these creatures that make me laugh, but it also tells a story and all the little details guide your eyes across the canvas to discover more.
There’s a world famous painting hanging next to it, the fall of Icarus. Which is one of the paintings that I love seeing over and over again. The fact that the title of the painting is such a small detail on the canvas is fascinating. The first thing you look at is the farmer on a hill in the foreground, on the right of this scene there’s a man, Icarus, falling in the water.
Walking along you enter the room with the lively painted scenes such as the following one painted by Jacob Jordaens. These are such scenes where there’s a lot going on. The first thing my eye goes to is the king in the middle. Every character makes me laugh, almost everyone is looking at the king, even the woman in the front wipping that childs behind. There are just three people looking at you, almost trying to lure you in the fun of drinking and having a feast.
The most popular painting in the museum might be the Death of Marat, a piece accompanied by other interesting pieces of neo-classicism painters. A few years ago we discussed this piece very extensively in university which is when my admiration grew. Esthetically the painting doesn’t dissappoint, although the photo doesn’t do it any justice, the lighting in the room messed up the dark part. You should see it for yourself, it’s way more spectacular than all the photos you’ll find online.
We’ve seen a lot of relatively small paintings, but then you eventually enter the grand red room, with very dynamic and monumental pieces made by several painters.
The visit ends in the 21th century. A room with a central piece of Francis Bacon, accompanied by Marcel Broodthaers, Salvador Dali and Paul Delvaux.
If you ever have some spare time or plan on visiting Brussels and go for the cultural sightings, you should definitely set foot in this museum. As I said, it’s a grand collection, so there’s without a doubt an art piece for everyone to admire.