August 30 , 1999
Volume 52, No. 2
Visit by Belgian prince kicks off exhibit at Carlos Museum
A lavish exhibition of 17th century Southern Netherland art from the Royal Museums of Belgium--"So Many Brilliant Talents: Art and Craft in the Age of Rubens"--will open Sept. 17 at the Carlos Museum, with Prince Philippe of Belgium attending, and run through Jan. 9, 2000.
More than 90 objects representative of the art and culture of the 17th century Southern Netherlands will grace the museum, the exhibition's only venue. In an area roughly corresponding to present-day Belgium, the Southern Netherlands was governed by the Spanish archdukes Albert and Isabella, whose political and economic achievements--united under a banner of the Counter Reformation--sparked a flourishing of the visual arts. It was also a time when genre scenes and still life and landscape paintings were created by artists to adorn the homes of the new middle class.
The exhibit will include about 20 important paintings, works by Rubens and van Dyck among them, as well as drawings, sculpture, prints, illustrated books, furniture, silver, brass, glass and textiles (including a tapestry designed by Jacob Jordaens). Visitors will experience some of these art works in an authentically recreated "period room" designed to capture the beauty and spirit of this elegant age.
The works of art in the exhibition--presented under the patronage of Alex Reyn, Belgian Ambassador to the United States, and Paul Cejas, United States Ambassador to Belgium--are to be drawn primarily from distinguished collections in Brussels found at The Royal Museums of Fine Arts, the Royal Museums of Art and History, The Royal Library and the collection of the King Baudouin Foundation. King Baudouin is one of Europe's leading and most influential foundations, and the establishment of its United States branch in Atlanta helped make the exhibition possible.
The phrase "so many brilliant talents" was used in the 17th century by Abbé Scaglia, ambassdor of Savoy, to describe the eminent Flemish artist Peter Paul Rubens, whose work will be featured in the show. In the context of the exhibition, "brilliant talents" also refers to the whole range and quality of art produced in various media by the many distinguished artists and craftsmen active in the Southern Netherlands at the time.
"The period was one of extraordinary artistic achievement, with artists of the highest caliber working for the court, the church and the upper middle class," said exhibition curator Ronni Baer, a specialist in Dutch and Flemish art. "While it is among the painters of the period, including Peter Paul Rubens and Anthony van Dyck, that one finds the artist names most familiar to us, artists in other media were working at no less distinguished a level.
"Their works tell us a great deal about the interests, institutions and preoccupations of the time, including the guilds and their influence, the rituals and routines of daily life and leisure pursuits," she said, adding, "The exhibition will put the artistic production of 17th century Flemish culture in an historical context, elucidating the intellectual, social and cultural life of the time."
In conjunction with "So Many Brilliant Talents," the museum will present a variety of programming that allows visitors to explore 17th century Southern Netherlands culture in even greater depth. Baer will present an illustrated lecture Sept. 22, and a scholarly symposium on Oct. 8 and 9 will feature experts on various types of Flemish art. Workshops for teachers and children, as well as an outreach program for area schools, will bring the age of Rubens to the classroom. A performance of 15th through 17th century Flemish music by the Clerk's Group, a Belgian beer tasting conducted by The Great Beers of Belgium author Michael Jackson and a Belgian chocolate tasting round out the schedule.
For more information about "So Many Brilliant Talents: Art and Craft in the Age of Rubens" or a complete list of events, call 404-727-4282 or visit the Carlos Museum web site at <http://www. emory. edu/CARLOS>.