Paintings of collectors’ cabinets orrooms of art celebrate collecting.The form emerged in the early seventeenthcentury in the rich merchant cityof Antwerp, where this exhibition, ajoint venture of the Rubenshuis thereand the Mauritshuis in The Hague, wasrecently on view. For the first time, theexhibition brings together the threeextraordinary works by the early masterof the genre, Willem van Haecht II,whose father, Tobias Verhaecht, wasPeter Paul Rubens’s first teacher. Haechtserved as the curator of the collectionof Cornelis van der Geest in Antwerp,and all three of the paintings depictworks known to have been in that collection,particularly the one of 1628now in the Rubenshuis.
The sumptuous example from theMauritshuis’s collection shows rows ofpaintings soaring up the walls of a spaciousroom fi lled with classical sculptures, celestialand terrestrial globes, and a bevy ofcollectors, models, attendants, and evena painter at work. The third painting, shown here, is a rarely seen work from aprivate collection. Together with anotherthirteen paintings, Haecht’s works off eran exploration of, and homage to, the artof collecting. Although presenting a playfullyinventive interior capriccio, thesepaintings document the material wealthand culture of Antwerp’s golden age. Morepoetically, they invite the viewer to contemplatethe act and art of collecting. Afully illustrated catalogue by the curatorsAriane van Suchtelen and Ben van Beneden, available in English as well as inDutch, accompanies the show.
Room for Art in 17th-Century Antwerp· Mauritshuis, The Hague · to June 27· www.mauritshuis.nl
Photo: Art Cabinet with Anthony van Dyck’s MysticMarriage of Saint Catherine by Willem vanHaecht II (1593–1637), c. 1630. Oil on wood,28 ¾ by 41 inches. Private collection; photograph© Keith Hunter Photography.