Rare and indispensable. Masterpieces from Flemish collections

31st of January 2024

The silver owl with an Antwerp hallmark, the Map of Utopia created by Abraham Ortelius and the silver ewer of Pierre Paul Rubens, three major works from the King Baudouin Foundation’s collection, are featured in the Rare and Indispensable exhibition being held until 25th February at the MAS museum in Antwerp.

On the 20th anniversary of the Decree on Flemish Masterpieces being passed, the Topstukkenraad (Council of Masterpieces) has selected 100 works of art that it considers to be representative of the quality of Flanders collection of Masterpieces. Three key works from the King Baudouin Foundation’s collection have been included in the selection.

An owl with the Antwerp hallmark

This goblet in the form of an owl, and the oldest Antwerp goblet of this type that we know of made from a coconut shell, is surprising because of its technical mastery. It was no doubt part of an art collection or a cabinet of curiosities. Created during the Golden Age, this masterpiece tells us much about life in the 16th century. It is a testimony to the wealth of the period, the development of the port of Antwerp and importation of exotic articles, as well as the quality of silver craftsmanship. This beautiful object is usually at the DIVA Museum in Antwerp.

The Map of Utopia by Abraham Ortelius

The Map of Utopia was made between 1595 and 1596 by Abraham Ortelius and illustrates the island of Utopia as imagined by Thomas More in his famous work. The map was printed in twelve examples and this is the only one to have been preserved to date. It is normally on show at the Plantin-Moretus Museum in Antwerp.

A silver ewer belonging to Pierre Paul Rubens

This monumental ensemble comprising a large basin and ewer was made around 1635-36 by the famous Antwerp silversmith Théodore I Rogiers. These unique pieces would have belonged to the second son of Pierre Paul Rubens, Nicolas, or even to the master himself. In 1999, in an act of great generosity, Sir Pierre and Lady Bauchau decided to acquire the ensemble and donate it to the King Baudouin Foundation. The ewer and basin have been entrusted to the Rubens House in Antwerp.

The Decree on Flemish Masterpieces

The Decree on Flemish Masterpieces has as its mission to protect and enrich Flemish artistic and cultural heritage that defines the cultural identity in its broadest sense and to ensure its continued development. The decree aims to ensure the sustainability of such works, with particular attention being given to the conditions of conservation.

Exhibition: Rare and Indispensable

After a short introduction about the origins of the Decree, the Rare and Indispensable exhibition takes the visitor on a chronological journey from pre-Eyckian art through to the Pop Art of the 1960s, along with themed floors relating to the Studiolo, the Richness of the Baroque and 19th and 20th century portraits. Aimed at the general public, this exhibition has as its objective not only to surprise and move visitors, but also to raise awareness about the dynamism of our country’s heritage policies. The exhibition is accompanied by a richly illustrated catalogue that briefly describes each of the exhibits and explains why it has been chosen as a Flemish masterpiece.

To enjoy until 25th February 2024!

Practical details:
Exhibition Rare and Indispensable
Hanzestedenplaats 1
2000 Antwerp
Until 25 February 2024 (open from Tuesday to Sunday inclusive, from 10h00 to 17h00)