Rubens or Rembrandt? Art, Politics and the Roots of Belgium and the Netherlands in the 16th and 17th centuries

15-03-2023 from 19:00 to 21:00
Campus Boekentoren, Building Blandijn (Blandijnberg 2), Aud. 3 Suzanne Lilar
Martine De Reu

The Dutch Revolt (1568-1648) led to the birth of the Dutch Republic (approximately the current-day Netherlands), while the Southern Low Countries (approximately current-day Belgium) remained loyal to their dynastic lord, the Spanish king. The separation of the Northern and Southern Low Countries was the outcome of a complex political and religious conflict that started in the sixteenth century in the large, prosperous cities of the South (Antwerp, Brussels, Ghent) but eventually led to the spectacular rise of Amsterdam in the seventeenth century. The lecturer explains the vibrant, cosmopolitan urban culture of the sixteenth century of which Pieter Bruegel the Elder is the most famous representative and discusses how national identities were molded during the Dutch Revolt, thanks to the unprecedented political use of pamphlets, image and ritual. Although the awareness of a common cultural and political heritage did not entirely disappear, the differences between the inhabitants of the Northern and Southern Low Countries were more and more apparent: the Dutch had always been more freedom-loving, tolerant and thrifty, while the Belgians/Flemish were devout Catholics and true Burgundians, loving good food and wine. The lecturer will discuss and partly deconstruct these clichés, but also show how they continue to live on, most notably in our appreciation of the great 'Dutch' (Rembrandt, Vermeer) and 'Flemish' (Rubens, Jordaens) painters.

Lecturer: Jonas Roelens, Faculty of Arts

Want to know more?

Visit the House of Rubens in Antwerp or the House of Rembrandt in Amsterdam.

Read Hans Vlieghe, De schilderkunst der Lage Landen  OR  Hans Vlieghe, Flemish Art and Architecture (exists in hardcover and in pocket edition)