Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium
History and museums
The Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium (Dutch: Koninklijke Musea voor Schone Kunsten van België, French: Musées royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique) are a group of art museums in Brussels, Belgium.
The museums are situated in the capital Brussels in the downtown area on the Coudenberg. There are four museums connected with the Royal Museum, and two of them (the Museum of Ancient Art and the Museum of Modern Art, Brussels), are in the main building. The other two (the Constantin Meunier Museum and the Antoine Wiertz Museum) are dedicated to specific Belgian artists, are much smaller, and are located a few kilometers from the city center.
The Royal Museum contains over 20,000 drawings, sculptures, and paintings, which date from the early 15th century to the present. The museum has an extensive collection of Flemish painting, among them paintings by Bruegel and Rogier van der Weyden, Robert Campin (the Master of Flémalle), Anthony van Dyck, and Jacob Jordaens. The museum is also proud of its "Rubens Room", which houses more than 20 paintings by the artist.
The painting Landscape with the Fall of Icarus, long-attributed to Brueghel, is located here and forms the subject of W. H. Auden's famous poem Musée des Beaux Arts, named after the museum.
There are constant changing exhibitions.
The chief curators of the museum have been or are :
The main building which now houses the Museum of Ancient Art was built as the Palais des Beaux-Arts, designed by Belgian architect Alphonse Balat and funded by King Leopold II. Balat was the king's principal architect, and this was one part of the king's vast building program for Belgium. The building was completed in 1887, and stands as an example of the Beaux-Arts architecture use of themed statuary to assert the identity and meaning of the building.
The extensive program of architectural sculpture includes the four figures of Music, Architecture, Sculpture, and Painting atop the four main piers, the work of sculptors Égide Mélot, Joseph Geefs, Louis Samain, and Guillaume de Groot respectively. The finial, gilded Genius of Art was also designed by de Groot. The three rondels of Rubens, van Ruysbroek, and Jean de Bologne, who represent painting, architecture, and sculpture, are the work of Antoine-Joseph Van Rasbourgh, Antoine-Félix Bouré and Jean Cuypers. The two bas-relief panels are Music by Thomas Vincotte and Industrial Arts by Charles Brunin. The two bronze groups on pedestals represent The Crowning of Art by Paul de Vigne, and The Teaching of Art by Charles van der Stappen.
On the side of the building, a memorial commemorates five members of the Mouvement National Royaliste, a resistance group, killed during the liberation of Brussels on 3–4 September 1944.