The Picture Gallery of Cornelis van der Geest

Willem van Haecht (II) , 1628
Rubens House Museum, Antwerp

Cornelis van der Geest (1555-1638) proudly presents to his distinguished guests the central showpiece of his collection: Quinten Massys’s Madonna and Child. This painting, depicting the visit of the governors of the Southern Netherlands, Albrecht and Isabella, to Van der Geest’s famous art collection, is by Willem van Haecht (1593–1637). The collection is packed with paintings by Antwerp artists, both contemporary and historical. Rubens is a prominent presence, but we also see paintings by Adam Elsheimer, several Italians, and even a lost composition by Jan van Eyck. On the table are bronze replicas after the sculptor Giambologna and casts of famous antique sculptures. The figures in the portrait paintings make up a veritable Who’s Who of Antwerp’s artistic elite of the day – a number of artists and collectors can be identified. The fact that this is Van der Geest’s home is underscored by his family crest and motto “vive l’esprit” above the door. Van Haecht’s painting is not only an ode to art, but an ode also to the esprit of Antwerp’s collecting culture.

Ariane van Suchtelen, Curator, Mauritshuis, The Hague

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List of artworks in the collection of Van der Geest

with photos

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Unravelling the Gallery

How should we read this painting?

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Love in the Kunstkamer

Article on Van Haecht’s kunstkamer by Gary Schwartz (1996)

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