St. John’s Hospital in Bruges is an excellent example of when preservation and art exhibition are done correctly. A former pilgrim’s hospital, the grand hall and church have been transformed into a museum. The space exhibits art and medical objects from the history of the clinic, plus a very special section dedicated to Bruges’ most famous resident and Flemish Primitive painter Hans Memling.
Posts from the ‘Belgium’ Category
Most countries are known for a culinary specialty. If I mention Italy, Japan or Argentina, you probably imagine pasta, sushi and fantastic steaks. If we think about Belgium, then I definitely picture amazing chocolate! I was in Bruges the week before Easter so all the shops had out their best holiday treats. Not only is Bruges beautiful in March and has its own sculpture by Michelangelo, but it has incredible sweets!
In recent years, my travels have focused on the Mediterranean with trips to Greece, Turkey and Italy. I love ancient Roman art and the Italian Renaissance, but I thought it was time to diversify a bit. With a trip to Amsterdam and Belgium, I thought I could now finally spend some time with Dutch Primitives, also known as the art of the Northern Renaissance. And then look what I find tucked away in the Low Countries: a real Michelangelo!
Some people travel to new countries to expand the percentage of the world they’ve seen. Some less adventurous but equally ambitious travelers try to visit all 50 US States, all the Major League baseball parks or some other coherent list of places. Personally, I travel to see art. Jan van Eyck’s Ghent Altarpiece was high on my “To Do List”. Sadly, efforts to protect and preserve the work really interfered with my enjoyment of the painting, making this art pilgrimage a little disappointing.
You know the cliché about the incredible man or woman who turns heads as they enter the room? Somehow they have a power, beauty or shear presence that cannot be ignored. That’s essentially my experience seeing Jan van Eyck’s The Madonna and Child with Canon van der Paele at the Groeningemuseum in Bruges. As many times as I left the gallery and walked back in, I couldn’t escape it. The painting glowed with a brilliant depth of color and mesmerizing realism. It was a window into some heavenly scene surrounded by dull and simple paintings – which is particularly impressive considering the gallery was filled with works by Hans Memling and even a few small van Eyck’s! This painting is simply a masterpiece.