Musea Brugge entrusted with the administration of a prestigious collection

Musea Brugge entrusted with the administration of a prestigious collection

The Jean van Caloen Foundation transfers the administration of the prestigious collection of nearly 2,000 drawings by top artists such as Michelangelo, Jordaens and Boucher to Musea Brugge

Musea Brugge welcomes the addition of 1,920 drawing masterpieces and 25 sketch books to its collection. The Jean van Caloen Foundation of the castle estate at Loppem has entrusted the further care and administration of the collection to the Bruges Print Room, with effect from 17 May. The drawings date from the late 16th century to the 20th century and were collected primarily by Baron Jean van Caloen (1884-1972). 

Amongst other works, the collection contains the drawing of ‘The Priest’s Blessing’ by Jacques Jordaens (1593-1678) and a fine depiction of a young woman by the French master François Boucher (1703-1770). The absolute highlight of the collection is the magnificent ‘Stoning of St. Stephen’ by Michelangelo Buonarotti (1475-1564). It is the only drawing of the celebrated Italian Renaissance artist currently held in Belgium. It is a remarkable piece, not least because it is a composition study: a drawing in which Michelangelo set down some of his ideas on paper. Drawings of this kind were used by artists as preparatory sketches for larger final works, such as paintings or sculptures.

"As Foundation, we decided to entrust the further care of our drawing collection to Musea Brugge, because we have the fullest confidence in their expertise and experience to ensure its proper preservation, management and display. It is for this reason that we have also invested significantly for many years in a strengthening of our collaboration with the City of Bruges. As a family, we have a historic connection with the city in general and the site where the Groeninge Museum is now located in particular. With the BRUSK project, Musea Brugge has shown that it wishes to continue investing in its collections in an ambitious manner for the future."

— Jean van Caloen de Basseghem, Chairman of the board of directors of the Jean van Caloen Foundation

In addition to works by Italian and French masters, the Flemish, Dutch and Belgian schools are particularly well represented. Until now, the collection has been a largely hidden but much cherished treasure. Its valuable works were only lent sporadically and in limited numbers.

With this new acquisition, the Bruges Print Room will be able to add almost 2,000 drawings to its existing collection of some 20,000 works on paper. Musea Brugge will thoroughly investigate and study the drawings, in collaboration with leading specialists in their different fields. This research will result in the publication of a scientific catalogue for the collection, with special attention for the most important works. This publication will appear as an accompaniment to an exhibition of works from the collection in the new exhibition space at BRUSK. In addition, Musea Brugge will also make the entire collection digitally available on the Musea Brugge website, so that these magnificent drawing will be freely available to everyone

"This means, amongst other things, that a number of artists who were not previously included in our collection will now be represented for the first time. Moreover, the Jean van Caloen collection also contains numerous other drawings that relate to works that are already a part of the city’s collection."

— Anne van Oosterwijk, Collection Director, Musea Brugge