At the BRAFA art fair, the King Baudouin Foundation, which has been committed to protecting and conserving our heritage for more than 37 years, will be exhibiting its recent acquisitions and a fascinating selection of masterpieces from its collection. From a Flemish Primitive and a rare, 17th century ‘Madonna with Child’ by the internationally renowned sculptor Maria Faydherbe to a masterpiece by Rops and Khnopff, a unique, handwritten and hand-illustrated magazine by the Belgian surrealists and a short film by the pioneer of animated film Raoul Servais: world-class art and diversity take pride of place at the King Baudouin Foundation’s stand (no. 137).
One of the earliest works at the King Baudouin Foundation’s stand is ‘Man of Sorrows’ (ca. 1500-1525) by Albrecht Bouts. This Flemish Primitive work, which spent many years in a private collection, can be seen in Brussels for the first time at BRAFA. Father Ghislain De Jaeger bequeathed this Flemish Primitive to the King Baudouin Foundation, so that the painting would be held, according to his wishes, in Musea Brugge’s world-famous collection of Flemish Primitives. The work could also be admired in Bruges last year at the exhibition ‘Face to Face with Death’.
You can also discover a gem among religious sculptures for the very first time. ‘Madonna with Child’, a rare statuette by the 17th century artist Maria Faydherbe of Malines, was recently purchased by the Léon Courtin-Marcelle Bouché Fund. You will be able to see the statuette, which is a mere 17.1 cm high, at the Hof van Busleyden museum in Malines after BRAFA. Incidentally, Maria Faydherbe is a far from insignificant figure. She is the earliest female sculptor known by name in European art history with work still in existence today. Her oeuvre is internationally renowned. Furthermore, this ‘Madonna with Child’ is the only work by the artist that bears a date.
Another eye-catcher, also from the 17th century, is a gold cluster ring with diamonds and a miniature portrait. This unique ring was given masterpiece status by the Flemish government in 2023, along with five other pieces of silver- and goldware from the King Baudouin Foundation’s collection housed at the DIVA in Antwerp.
Thanks to the Comte Thierry de Looz-Corswarem Fund, a spectacular, solid-silver fountain by the 18thcentury silversmith Joseph Van Deuren from Malines could also be purchased for the Museums of Art and History in Brussels. Weighing in at around 7 kilos, and 59 cm high, this lavishly decorated piece of a high technical quality bears witness to the talent of an exceptional craftsman and to the wealth and status of the family that owned it.
The King Baudouin Foundation is also exhibiting 'The Lady with the Puppet’ (1877) by Félicien Rops, a masterpiece, of which there are four variants, that is laced with symbolic and mythological motifs. The Foundation already owned one of these drawings and was able to purchase a second version, thanks to the Charles Vreeken Fund. The acquisition of this new watercolour, which for many years now has been a focal point in the collection of the Ropsmuseum in Namur and was recently put up for sale by its private owner, means that both variants will remain on display at the museum. 'The Lady with the Puppet' will be exhibited at BRAFA along with other original drawings and engravings by Rops which the King Baudouin Foundation's Heritage Fund acquired in 2022 to enrich the Ropsmuseum collection.
This year, BRAFA is focusing on surrealism, with the Paul Delvaux Foundation as its guest of honour. In line with this, the King Baudouin Foundation will present a painting by Jane Graverol, an artist linked to surrealism, which was purchased for Le Delta in Namur.
Vendredi (‘Friday’), a handwritten surrealist magazine – and a unique item! – will be exhibited to the public for the first time since its restoration. It contains drawings, sketches, collages, texts and notes by Belgian surrealists including René Magritte, Marcel Mariën, Louis Scutenaire, Irène Hamoir and members of the younger generation, such as Christian Dotremont, Marcel Broodthaers and Pierre Alechinsky. It was the brainchild of the poet Paul Colinet, who sent this ‘magazine’ every Friday between November 1949 and October 1951 – 100 editions in total – to his cousin, the graphic artist Robert Willems who lived in the Belgian Congo. Thanks to the patronage of Myriad USA, the American philanthropic wing of the King Baudouin Foundation, this work was purchased in 2012.
You are also welcome to watch the short film ‘Nocturnal Butterflies’ by the legendary animator Raoul Servais at the King Baudouin Foundation’s stand. Servais based this film on the work of Paul Delvaux. In late 2019, this Belgian pioneer of animated film, who died on 17 March 2023, donated a large proportion of his graphic work to the Foundation to ensure it would be preserved in perpetuity and made available to the public.
Last but not least, the Foundation will make a highly exceptional presentation of an absolute masterpiece in its collection: the ‘Portrait of Marguerite’ (1887) by Fernand Khnopff. This is one of the most significant works by the famous Belgian symbolist. The artist never wanted to part with the work, a portrait of his sister. The painting is the second work of art ever to be bought by the Foundation. Its purchase from the Heritage Fund in 1991 meant that the work could be returned from America to Belgium. Since then, it has been exhibited at the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium in Brussels. After more than 30 years, the painting can now be admired at BRAFA for the first time, after which the work will occupy a prominent place in the ‘Surrealism’ exhibition at the Royal Museums of Fine Arts.
Want to find out more about the King Baudouin Foundation and its commitment to our heritage?
The King Baudouin Foundation has been committed to protecting and conserving our heritage for more than 37 years. According to annual tradition, it will present a selection of its most recent acquisitions (purchases and donations) to the public at BRAFA. With the generous assistance of patrons and donors, the King Baudouin Foundation has built up a valuable collection of more than 27,000 works and 27 archive funds. The collection is housed and made accessible to the public in more than 90 museums and public institutions.
BRAFA Art Fair
28 January – 4 February 2023
Open from 11:00 to 19:00 (open until 22:00 on Thursday 1 February)
Brussels Expo I Heysel, Palaces 3 & 4
King Baudouin Foundation’s stand: no. 137
BRAFA Art Talks:
A BRAFA ART TALK will be held every day at 16:00 at the King Baudouin Foundation’s stand. Admission is free for visitors to the art fair. Curators, experts, journalists and other personalities from the Belgian and international art world will be delivering a series of fascinating talks on art.
Thierry Van Noppen, King Baudouin Foundation press officer
email@example.com +32 479 31 85 56