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Cadmus en Hermione, Maerten de Vos, 1593-1594

From scribble to cartoon

Drawings from Bruegel to Rubens in Flemish Collections

In this exhibition, the Museum Plantin-Moretus shows the 85 most beautiful old master drawings from Flemish collections. From scribble to cartoon: Drawings from Bruegel to Rubens in Flemish Collections gives an astonishing and representative overview of the art of drawing in our regions in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Friday 17 November 2023 until Sunday 18 February 2024 from 10:00 to 17:00

The Flemish masterpiece list

In 2020, the Flemish government placed a large number of old master drawings on their masterpiece list, including rare artworks by Frans Floris, Peter Paul Rubens, Anthony Van Dyck, Jacques Jordaens, Otto van Veen, Jan Fijt and many more. The majority of these masterpieces are kept in the Museum Plantin-Moretus. The museum takes the official recognition of these drawings as masterpieces as an opportunity to put its unique collection in the spotlight. The exhibition presents an overview that illustrates who, why and how people drew in our regions in the 16th and 17th centuries.

The exhibition challenges the visitor to look beyond a drawing’s subject and composition to consider how and why it was created and why an artist chose specific materials, techniques, formats and even sizes. It provides a framework to allow visitors to see drawings in the functional context for which they were created.

Curator Virginie D'haene


The 85 most beautiful drawings

The museum’s own collection forms the basis for this exhibition, but it is complemented by masterpieces from other Flemish public and private collections. It is a unique opportunity to see these masterpieces side by side. Several have never been shown to the public before, including the 10 meters long Panorama of Zeeland by Antoon van den Wijngaerde, the extremely rare Italy-sketchbooks by the sculptor Pieter Verbruggen and a newly discovered book-illustration design by Rubens for the Plantin Press. The exhibition will be accompanied by a publication that visualizes and contextualizes the exhibition’s overview of Flanders' most beautiful drawings.


Also at the MAS

At the same time, the exhibition 'Rare and Indispensable' at the MAS (27.10.23 to 25.02.24) presents a completely different dimension to the Flemish masterpiece list. Famous paintings by names such as Magritte, Bacon, Ensor, sculptures, precious silver, mediaeval manuscripts and rare furniture can all be admired there. What you normally have to cross all of Flanders to see, is now temporarily on display in one place – in Antwerp.


The Print Room: world-class

The Museum Plantin-Moretus Museum is widely known as the original residence and workshop of the Plantin and Moretus publishing house, but it also holds one of the most important print rooms in the world. With this exhibition, the museum puts this particular collection, and those of other institutions in Flanders, in the spotlight internationally.


International recognition

The Getty Foundation recently selected the exhibition From scribble to cartoon: Drawings from Bruegel to Rubens in Flemish Collections for the grant The Paper Project: Prints and Drawings Curatorship in the 21st Century. This international programme supports young curators of prints and drawings in their professional development and in building expertise in art on paper. The grant, worth 81,000 euros, will enable Virginie D'haene, curator in the Print Room of the Museum Plantin-Moretus and the curator of this exhibition, to conduct research on drawings worldwide and to accompany the upcoming exhibition with a scientific publication.


This exhibition is made possible with support from the Getty Foundation through The Paper Project initiative.

Museum Plantin-Moretus

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