Six drawings by Ludovicus Willemsens, from the King Baudouin Foundation’s Van Herck Collection, are on show at the Diocesan Museum of Paderborn. This Antwerp-born sculptor was one of the vectors for the influence of Flemish Baroque art in Northern Germany.
It was largely thanks to the Antwerp sculptor Ludovicus Willemsens that this new form of art, developed by Pierre Paul Rubens, would appear in Westphalia. Willemsens participated in the vast renovation campaign undertaken in Paderborn Cathedral during the first half of the 17th century. The Cathedral would become the first religious building in Northern Europe to undergo radical modernisation by artists from the city of Antwerp, one of the leading innovative and thriving artistic centres of the period. The interior design of the Cathedral, with its monumental sculptures and busy compositions, revolutionised the approach to architecture in Northern Europe, creating a totally new spatial experience that would then be adopted in the rest of the country
The Baroque elements of the Cathedral having disappeared during the Second World War, the Diocesan Museum of Paderborn has selected five preparatory drawings from the Van Herck Collection to illustrate the materiality, dynamism and expressiveness that were characteristic of the work of Ludovicus Willemsens. The influence of Rubens is evident. His compact figures, formed from a single block and dressed in clothes that shroud certain parts of the body, appeared later as sculptures decorating various churches in Brussels and Antwerp. These works also particularly evoke the trends in Baroque religious sculpture of the 17th century.