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Scientific study of the ‘group Rubens’ in the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, with scholarly catalogue and Rubens exhibition

Research project MO/40/006 (Research action MO)

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The Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium in Brussels contain some 50 works attached to the name of Rubens. These form a world class artistic and art-historical ensemble, which contributes substantially to the institution’s international name and reputation. These compositions are referred to below as the “Rubens Group”, as they include not only authenticated works by the artist himself, but also works ascribed to Rubens, to his workshop or his school, or which are the fruit of cooperation with other masters. Until now no fundamental and inclusive study has been taken of this artistically and art-historically important ensemble. The present project seeks to fill this gap, whilst taking advantage of recent advances in art historical and technological research methods. It will apply the full range of currently known examination methods, including archival research, contextual, stylistic and iconological analysis, use of UV light, the binocular microscope, macro and infrared photography and reflectography, pigment analysis, X-radiography and dendrochronology. This should help solve the many art-historical controversies surrounding this ensemble (Rubens/not Rubens, cooperation of Van Dyck, role of Rubens’s workshop), etc. The results will be presented to researchers and the general public in a multi-lingual scholarly catalogue. This catalogue, in turn, will constitute a scientifically sound basis for an exhibition.

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