Last chance to see two iconic paintings before their restoration
Peter Paul Rubens’s Self-Portrait, in the Rubens House, and Peter Brueghel the Elder’s Mad Meg, in the collection of Museum Mayer van den Bergh, will soon undergo a much-needed restoration. Both these masterpieces will leave Antwerp in January 2017. They will be on public display again in 2018 and 2019 respectively after having been restored to their original splendour. In the run-up to the restoration, both the museums will be organising workshops, guided tours and lectures in December and January.
Peter Paul Rubens’s Self-Portrait, in the Rubens House, and Peter Brueghel the Elder’s Mad Meg, in the collection of Museum Mayer van den Bergh, will soon undergo a vital restoration. These two iconic paintings rarely leave their respective museums. In the course of January 2017, however, these masterpieces will leave for Brussels where they will be expertly restored by the world-famous Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage (KIK-IRPA).
Restoration in a world-renowned workshop
Rubens’s Self-Portrait and Brueghel’s Mad Meg will be restored to their original splendour by the Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage in Brussels. The workshop is acclaimed the world over – among others for its restoration of The Mystic Lamb.
The restorers will start by examining the two paintings. A first guideline for this investigation is the available data from experts. In 2012, the team of Professor Martens of the University of Ghent used macrophotography, infrared reflectography and X-ray radiography for the research it carried out on Mad Meg, which led to some astonishing results. The team discovered among others that Peter Brueghel had already named the painting “Dulle Griet” (Mad Meg). The research also yielded a detailed image of the intermediate layer between the wood panel and the painting as well as revealing the original colour palette. The Conservation Department of the National Gallery in London, meanwhile, examined Rubens’s Self-Portrait in 2014. The researchers established that the current layer of varnish on the portrait has a very complex composition and that the removal will be a pain-staking process.
After a technical analysis – using dendrochronology and pigment analysis –, the restorers will commence the restoration. The newly-appointed alderman for Culture, Caroline Bastiaens, is very enthusiastic about the plans: “Rubens’s Self-Portrait and Peter Brueghel the Elder’s Mad Meg are two iconic Antwerp paintings. They will be leaving our city – their habitat – for a brief period and will be handled with the greatest expertise and care at the Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage in Brussels. The fact that both these masterpieces will be restored to their original splendour, just in time for the Baroque year in 2018 and the Brueghel year in 2019, is an exciting prospect for Antwerp. Like many tourists and Antwerpers I will take advantage of the last chance to enjoy these works before they leave in January 2017”.
A festive farewell
The Rubens House and Museum Mayer van den Bergh will be bidding a festive farewell to their respective treasures. Visitors have a last chance to admire these two iconic paintings during workshops, guided tours and lectures for people of all ages before their restoration, during which they will be out of the public eye.
Back in 2018 and 2019
In 2018, the Self-Portrait and Mad Meg will be revealed again in all their splendour during the Baroque year, with Rubens as the magnificent host of this cultural urban festival. In 2019, Mad Meg will be the undisputed attraction in Museum Mayer van den Bergh during the Brueghel year.
- The activities in the framework of the “last chance to see Rubens and Mad Meg before their restoration” run from 6 December 2016 up to and including 15 January 2017. Further information about the activities: see annex
- Rubens House, Wapper 9-11, 2000 Antwerp
- www.rubenshuis.be - www.facebook.com/rubenshuis
- Museum Mayer van den Bergh, Lange Gasthuisstraat 19, 2000 Antwerp
- www.museummayervandenbergh.be - www.facebook.com/museummayervandenbergh
- Opening hours: From Tuesday until Sunday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.
- Combination ticket: visitors can buy a combination ticket, which serves as their admission to both museums. A combination ticket costs 10 euros. Separate tickets must be booked for the activities.
- Closed on Mondays, 25 December and 1 January.