Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium

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Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium
Musées royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique  (French)
Koninklijke Musea voor Schone Kunsten van België  (Dutch)
Musees Royaux des Beaux-Arts Belgique 1101.jpg
Map Bruxelles-Capitale.jpg
Location within Brussels
Location Brussels, Belgium
Coordinates 50°50′31″N4°21′28″E / 50.841944°N 4.357778°E / 50.841944; 4.357778
Type Art museum

The Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium (French : Musées royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, Dutch : Koninklijke Musea voor Schone Kunsten van België) are a group of art museums in Brussels, Belgium.


The Royal Museums contains over 20,000 drawings, sculptures, and paintings, which date from the early 15th century to the present.


In 1845, it was decided, by Royal Decree, [1] that a museum was to be founded with works of art of deceased and living Belgian artists. A national commission was established to select important works of art. The first president of the commission was the Count de Beaufort. Other members were:

Many of the founding members were active in the Royal Academy of Science, Letters and Fine Arts of Belgium.

The museums

The museums are situated in the downtown Royal District, on the Coudenberg, in Brussels. There are six museums connected with the Royal Museums; two of them are located in the main building – the Oldmasters Museum or Museum of Ancient Art, whose collections cover European art until 1750, and the Museum of Modern Art. The Magritte Museum, opened in 2009, and Fin-de-Siècle Museum, opened in 2013, are adjacent to the main building. [2] [3] The smaller Constantin Meunier Museum and the Antoine Wiertz Museum, dedicated to these two Belgian artists, are located a few kilometers from the city centre.

Oldmasters Museum

The Jacob Jordaens room KMSKB 2011 Room Jordaens.jpg
The Jacob Jordaens room

The museum has an extensive collection of paintings, sculptures and drawings from the fifteenth to the eighteenth century. The bulk of the collection is formed around Flemish painting, presented in chronological order. For example, there are valuable panels by the Flemish Primitives (including Bruegel, Rogier van der Weyden, Robert Campin (the Master of Flémalle), Hieronymus Bosch, 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 Bruegel, is located there and forms the subject of W. H. Auden's famous poem "Musée des Beaux Arts", named after the museum. There are also constant temporary exhibitions.

Magritte Museum

The museum has one of the richest collections of paintings by the Belgian surrealist painter René Magritte. Inaugurated on 20 May 2009, the Magritte Museum opened on 2 June 2009.

Fin-de-Siècle Museum

Inaugurated on 6 December 2013, the museum presents collections of artists such as Constantin Meunier, James Ensor, Henri Evenepoel, Fernand Khnopff, Leon Spilliaert, Jusepe de Ribera, Jacques-Louis David and George Minne.

Wiertz Museum

The life and work of Antoine Wiertz are honored in the painter's former studio, in the heart of the Leopold Quarter. This unique museum offers a striking view of the monumental paintings, statues and sketches marked by the Belgian romantic movement.

Meunier Museum

Located in the former house and workshop of Constantin Meunier, the museum houses 150 works and documents by the realist painter and sculptor.


The chief curators or directors of the museum have been:

The building

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 the building was one part of the king's vast construction projects 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. [4]

View on the upper floor KMSKB, Brussel002.JPG
View on the upper floor

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  [ fr ], 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. [5]

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. [6] Alongside the western face of the building is a sculpture park, with works by Aristide Maillol, Emilio Greco, Paul Hanrez and Bernhard Heiliger.

See also

Further reading

Related Research Articles

Musée des Beaux Arts (poem)

"Musée des Beaux Arts" is a poem written by W. H. Auden in December 1938 while he was staying in Brussels, Belgium, with Christopher Isherwood. It was first published under the title "Palais des beaux arts" in the Spring 1939 issue of New Writing, a modernist magazine edited by John Lehmann. It next appeared in the collected volume of verse Another Time, which was followed four months later by the English edition. The poem's title derives from the Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique in Brussels, famous for its collection of Early Netherlandish painting. Auden visited the Musée and would have seen a number of works by the "Old Masters" of his second line, including Pieter Bruegel the Elder.

Constantin Meunier

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Charles van der Stappen Belgian sculptor

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Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts

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<i>Le génie du mal</i>

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Paul Bouré Belgian artist

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Hippolyte Boulenger Belgian painter

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Evelyne Axell

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Antoine-Félix Bouré Belgian sculptor

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Éliane de Meuse

Éliane Georgette Diane de Meuse was a Belgian painter. She was the wife of Max Van Dyck. They met at the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts, Brussels where they attended the courses of the same professors.

Louis Dubois (painter) Belgian painter

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Joseph Jaquet Belgian sculptor

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Lucie Jacquart (1882–1956) was a Belgian artist who lived and worked in Brussels. She is known for her still life paintings. Her work 'White Azalea' is in the collection of the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, and other works are in the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts (Ghent) and of the Belgian state.

<i>The Greeks and the Trojans Fighting over the Body of Patroclus</i>

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Fin-de-Siècle Museum

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Charles Hermans

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Le Joueur Secret is a 1927 painting by the Belgian surrealist artist Rene Magritte. The canvas executed by the Belgian painter René Magritte in 1927. This surreal oil on canvas mainly depicts two baseball players at the foot of giant bowling pins and under a black leatherback turtle floating in the air. The work is part of the collection of the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, it is kept at the Magritte Museum in Brussels. The painting was included in the exhibition "Mystery of the Ordinary 1926–1938" co-organized by The Museum of Modern Art in New York City, The Menil Collection in Houston, Texas, and The Art Institute of Chicago which was displayed at all three respective venues.


  1. Het Handelsblad, 3 December 1845
  2. "Museums - Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium" . Retrieved 26 May 2016.
  3. Trend, Nick (6 December 2013). "Brussels: Inside the new Musée Fin-de-Siècle". The Telegraph. Retrieved 26 May 2016.
  4. accessed 9/1/10
  5. Chronique d'un musée: Musées royaux des beaux-arts de Belgique, Bruxelles By Franc̜oise Roberts-Jones, page 41
  6. "Monument: National Royalists Monument". Brussels Remembers. Archived from the original on 2013-04-19.