logo erkend museum logo KBC

Exhibitions - Previous

The Golden Cabinet. The Royal Museum at the Rockox House

until 2 July 2017

ff guldencabinet e

During the latter part of the sixteenth century and the early part of the seventeenth, the city of Antwerp enjoyed an especially favourable artistic and economic climate that made it the prime production and trading centre for luxury articles. It was a time when many patricians and merchants built up rich collections of contemporary and ancient art, though the majority of those collections have – alas – come to be dispersed in the course of time.

Visitors to the Rockox House in Antwerp will be able to see how an Antwerp art collection must have appeared in the Golden Century. More particularly, the residence of burgomaster and patron Nicolaas Rockox (1560–1640) is being transformed into a luxurious art cabinet with top items from Antwerp’s Royal Museum of Fine Arts (closed for renovation) and the most important works from the Rockox House itself. On display will be a range of fine paintings by such masters as van der Weyden, Memling, van Eyck, Rubens and van Dyck.



The Sky is the Limit. The landscape of the Low Countries. Rockox House Museum, in conjunction with the KMSKA and the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden

25 March through 2 July 2017

patinir christoffel p41

Painting underwent a revolution during the course of the 16th century. New genres, including landscapes, took the art world by storm and flowed into the collections of rich patricians, traders and the nobility. Landscape served as background subject-matter for biblical and mythological scenes, but painters started to express themselves with the new genre in the creation of endless variations on townscapes, mountainscapes, panoramas, depictions of hell and seascapes.

One of the pioneers of Flemish landscape painting was Joachim Patinir. Pieter Bruegel the Elder was painting 'world landscapes' around the middle of the 16th century. In the 17th century, Rubens refocused attention on the landscape with his penchant for the countryside, his panoramic views and the rich diversity of colour on his palette.

The exhibition is made up of loans from the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister Dresden, which will itself be devoting a major exhibition to this subject in the autumn of 2016, together with landscapes from the KMSKA and the Rockox House.



18 June through 2 October 2016 at the Rockox House Museum

ClaraPeeters 00307560001

The Rockox House and the Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp (KMSKA) are organising a series of small-scale exhibitions as part of the Golden Cabinet initiative. Clara Peeters:Dinner is served! is number six.

Clara Peeters was an outsider – one of the few female fine artists in the early seventeenth century, not to mention a pioneer in the development of still life as a genre.

We know very little about her life.She worked in Antwerp in the first quarter of the seventeenth century, and a mere forty paintings have been attributed to her. Her still lifes – banquets, fish platters and bouquets – are a feast for the eye. But what is their deeper meaning? What was the value of Chinese porcelain to a middle-class household in 1610? What made her combine an artichoke with other delicacies and exquisite objects? Clara Peeters: Dinner is served! sets out to answer these and other questions evoked by the sometimes enigmatic work of this fascinating artist.

This exhibition has been organised in collaboration with the Prado Museum in Madrid.

The exhibition will move to the Prado in the autumn.



POWER FLOWER, Foral still lifes in the Netherlands

Exhibition runs 28 November 2015 to 28 March 2016

BAN PowerFlower 270x330The Rockox House and the Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp (KMSKA) are organising a series of small-scale exhibitions as part of the Golden Cabinet initiative. Power Flower, Floral still life in the Low Countries is the fifth in the series.

Since time immemorial, art in Flanders, Brabant and Holland has been characterised by incisive observation of nature and the quest for naturalness.

Despite that, until into the 16th century, plants and flowers were only to be seen adorning the margins of illustrations depicting saints in books of hours. The flourishing interest in the botanical world and the burgeoning fondness for things natural prompted early-seventeenth-century artists to regard bouquets of flowers as a self-contained motif.

It was a period in which artists were totally spellbound by the 'Power Flower' and were to be for many years to come. Jan Brueghel, Jan Davidz De Heem, Osias Beert, Daniël Seghers, Rachel Ruysch are just some of the many artists on proud floral display at this most sweet-scented of exhibitions.




Abraham Ortelius (1527-1598), under the spell of classical antiquity

Open: 24 of April - 16 of August 2015

Tempe website v1Ortelius is generally recognised as having created the first modern atlas, the Theatrum Orbis Terarum (Theatre of the World), published in Antwerp in 1570. He is also believed to be the first person to have questioned the early historical maps, proposing instead that the continents had been joined together before drifting apart to their current position. Ortelius also had a passionate interest in the history of classical antiquity and Biblical history.

In his first edition of the Theatrum, he already refers to place names in antiquity, and this subsequently results in a separate publication in 1587, the Thesaurus Geographicus. And again in his Parergon, a collection of his historical maps that he had previously published in various editions of the Theatrum, he portrays ancient history, sacred and secular, and shows the extent of the Roman Empire in Europe. With the help of his celebrated museum collection, including an extensive library and rich array of Roman coins, he reconstructed - among other things – Caesar’s conquest of Gall, and the journeys of Odysseus, Aeneas and the Argonauts. And in the texts which accompanied his maps, he always listed the sources he used.

Ortelius also literally travelled in search of history. That he visited Italy is borne out by his celebrated Itinerarium per nonnullas Galliae Belgicae partes. But also closer to home, he came looking for traces of classical antiquity in Tongeren, Trier and Metz. Towards the end of his life, he was preparing the publication of the Tabula Peutingeriana, a copy of a map of the road network across the Roman Empire dating originally from the 3rd or 4th century.

He was also a keen numismatist, and his collection included coins dating back to the latter years of the Roman Empire. Coins, and especially Roman coins, brought to life the history of those times, and his Deorum dearumque capita ex antiquis numismatibus Abrahami Ortelii geographi Regis collecta was published in 1573. For Ortelius, history and cartography went hand in hand. For him, geography was ‘the eye of history’.

It is not without reason, therefore, that Ortelius with his passion for the history of classical antiquity, finds his place in the Rockox House. Rockox (1560-1640) and Ortelius (1527-1598) were friends. They shared a passion for collecting coins. Rockox had all Ortelius’s major publications in his library, and a portrait of Ortelius hung in Rockox’s own ‘art room’ (or gallery).

This exhibition will include a range of these historical maps together with some printed works showing Ortelius’s reconstructions. Visitors will be able to follow how Ortelius collected his knowledge and then visualised it in map book form.This exhibition in the Rockox House is a joint venture with the Plantin-Moretus Museum / Print Collection in Antwerp, co-organised by Dr Dirk Imhof, curator of the Plantin-Moretus Museum and Hildegard Van de Velde, curator of the Rockox House Museum.



The Parrot. 't Cierlijk schoon van haare veeren*

* The decorative beauty of its plumage

8 November 2014 22 February 2015


Peter Paul Rubens, The Holy family with parrot (detail), ©KMSKA, photo: Rik Klein Gotink

As part of The Golden Cabinet season, the Antwerp Royal Museum of Fine Arts and the Rockox House Museum are organising a number of small-scale exhibitions. The Parrot is the third such exhibition in the series.

Following the stunning restoration of The Holy Family with the Parrot by P.P. Rubens (KMSKA), a work that has been given pride of place in 'The Golden Cabinet' exhibition, we are turning our attention to the parrot in the pictorial art of the 16th and 17th centuries. Its magnificent plumage was a feast for the eye and a source of inspiration for countless artists. 'Beauty', 'wisdom', 'virginal', 'exotic' and 'lover' are just a few of the many predicates assigned to this bird.

Besides Rubens' work, interpretations of the parrot by Savery, Fijt, Jordaens, de Heem, Dürer, Schongauer and other artists will also be on display.



From Patinir to Ribera. Saint Jerome in Words and Images

18 January – 13 April 2014

nicolaas rockox humanistJan Sanders van Hemessen, Saint Jerome, copyright KBC Erwin Donvil)

Jan Sanders van Hemessen’s picture of Saint Jerome occupied a place of honour in Rockox’s art gallery or groote saleth, where P.P. Rubens’s famous Samson and Delilah deservedly hung, and is currently the only work from Rockox’s original collection that is now in situ in the museum that was his house.

What we are attempting is to determine St. Jerome’s place in the pictorial art of the Renaissance and the Baroque in Western Europe. During the sixteenth century, he was the subject of thirty per cent of all portrayals of saints, and remained of great importance in the pictorial art of the seventeenth century, too, being an iconic figure for the Counter-Reformation and humanism.




The Golden Cabinet presents : Bound in Friendship.
The liber amicorum or friends’ book in the sixteenth and seventeenth century

een pagina uit Rockox's vriendenboekje, copyright collectiebeleid Bart Huysmans / Michiel Wuytseen pagina uit Rockox's vriendenboekje, copyright collectiebeleid Bart Huysmans / Michiel Wuyts

28 september 2013 – 15 december 2013

Friends’ books were prized possessions in the sixteenth century, too. The world was opening up and students sought adventure, going far abroad to enrich their knowledge, despite the fact that, in Leuven, the Southern Netherlands had a renowned university town; favourite countries were France, Italy and Germany. The friend’s book was treasured by the student and was often offered to close fellow students, professors and relatives for them to contribute comments, quotations dedictations – frequently finely illustrated – to it. It gives us the opportunity to seek out the student and trace his social network. Nicolaas Rockox, too, had a liber amicorum and this is exhibited here in company with fifteen friends’ books of his contemporaries.



Christmas in the Rockox House. Examples from its collection of early 16th to mid 17th century treasures.   11/12/2012 - 13/01/2013.

5Retabel WIT(Altarpiece, The Adoration of the Kings, 1525, copyright KBC Erwin Donvil)

From Tuesday 11 December 2012 up to and including Sunday 13 January 2013, the Rockox House will be busy preparing for the project The Golden Cabinet, and will therefore be partly closed. Two rooms will remain open, however, to display several Christmas treasures from the Rockox collection. Entry is free to all.

The Rockox House will be fully closed to the public from Monday 14 January to Friday 1 February 2013 inclusive. 


Summer in Rockox’ garden, Share his passion! 6/6 – 31/10/2012.

fto ev RockoxTegelFor the exhibition Summer in Rockox’s Garden: share his passion! the inner courtyard of the Rockox House has been turned into an evocation of the sort of seventeenth-century garden retreat that a patrician like Nicolaas Rockox would have had. In order to set the scene properly, the Rockox House Museum has joined forces with the Artesis University College Antwerp. Students of the Painting Department have decked out the Rockox town garden with paintings, perspective views on the doors, exotic birds on boards against the wall and trompe-l’oeils against the windows and in the cellar windows; students of the Ceramics Department have embellished the garden beds with a variety of ceramic pots in typical majolica colours; and students of the Sound Design Department of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, lastly, have equipped the garden with a series of surprising sounds, based on the four elements of water, fire, earth and air. Displayed in the museum itself are rare seventeenth-century tiles picturing flowers, plants, insects and birds; also on show are some of the sources from which the tile decorators drew their inspiration – among other things, fine engravings from the like of Adriaan Collaert and Stradanus. Botanical books also served as a model for the tile decorator, and Rockox had quite a number of them; in his time, they were valuable items, costing as much as a family car todayn.A visitors’ guide is available free of charge.


Triomf op wielen - Rubens' ontwerp voor de Zegewagen van Kallo. 11/02 - 13/05/2012.

triomf op wielenThis information is only available in Dutch.