Rubenianum 50th anniversary

In 2013 the Rubenianum celebrates its fiftieth anniversary, an occasion we would like to mark by looking back on the institute’s origins and history.

Late in 1963, after negotiations on the acquisition of Ludwig Burchard’s archive and library had been concluded successfully, the collection arrived by ship in Antwerp. The collection was installed, along with new staff and study room facilities, at the Smidt van Gelder Museum. This was the actual start of the Rubenianum’s ambitious mission to create a specialized library and documentation, and to commence its primary scholarly goal: the edition of the Corpus Rubenianum Ludwig Burchard.

Study Day: Picturing
Ludwig Burchard (1886-1960)

On Friday 6th December we kindly invite you to join us in celebrating the Rubenianum’s half centenary. The programme includes a study day devoted to the German Rubens expert Dr Ludwig Burchard, whose intellectual legacy was at the basis of the Rubenianum’s collections. This workshop aims at contextualizing Burchard’s person, his achievements and network within the art historiographic tradition of Rubens research and connoisseurship of his day.

Festive reception
at the Antwerp City Hall

The study day concludes with a festive reception at the Antwerp City Hall. There, we will be the guests of the mayor and the alderman for culture and economy of the City of Antwerp. During this reception a new poem, written for the occasion of our half centenary by city poet Bernard Dewulf, will be presented.

Een Rubens
op uw zolder?

U en uw kunstwerk zijn van harte welkom op een beoordelingsdag voor kunstwerken op zaterdag 7 december in het Rubenianum. Experts zullen u dan graag meer vertellen over de tekening die de muur van uw oma al sierde of het beeldje dat u koestert op de schoorsteenmantel. Wij verwelkomen oude Europese kunst, met name schilderijen, tekeningen, gravures en (kleine) sculptuur.


Picturing Ludwig Burchard (1886-1960)

An historiographical analysis of a Rubens scholar

9:15 - 10:00

Registration and coffee

10:00 - 10:15

Welcome and introduction

Véronique Van de Kerckhof

Director of the Rubenianum, Antwerp

10:15 - 10:45

Ludwig Burchard and Rubensforschung

Ludwig Burchard was the most important connoisseur of Rubens’s oeuvre. Already before the First World War – and in close contact with other German art historians – he came to a new and more comprehensive and accurate understanding of Rubens’s style.

Burchard has dominated Rubens research from the early twenties onward, first in Berlin and later, from 1935/36, in London. During these years he laid the foundations for the Corpus Rubenianum, a project which could only be materialized after his death.

Prof. em. Hans Vlieghe

Member of the Board of the Centrum Rubenianum, Antwerp

10:45 - 11:05

On the record(s): Burchard's material legacy

The principal reason for dedicating this study day to Ludwig Burchard is the generous bequest of his library and papers to the City of Antwerp in 1963. My contribution will focus on the history of this important collection: when did Burchard start collecting and how did he amass his research material? What does it consist of and how is it structured? And how did Antwerp successfully negotiate in acquiring Burchard’s records?.

Lieneke Nijkamp

Curator of research collections, Rubenianum, Antwerp

11:05 - 11:15

Intermezzo 1

Tape recording: Ludwig Burchard at the Belgian Art Seminar in 1955

11:15 - 11:45


11:45 - 12:10

Allies and Axis: Burchard's network during WWII

The intolerance, the anti-intellectual climate and the difficulties of daily life are in strong contrast with the powerful network of friendship and scholarship between art historians internationally during WWII. Besides the reconstruction of Burchard’s network in war times, more light will be shed on the art historical practices of that period of time.

Prisca Valkeneers

Research and editorial assistant Corpus Rubenianum Ludwig Burchard, Centrum Rubenianum, Antwerp

12:10 - 12:35

The Rubens exhibition at Wildenstein’s in London in 1950

The lecture describes the exhibition of Rubens' paintings, oil-sketches and drawings held at Messrs Wildenstein in London, which was selected and catalogued by Ludwig Burchard. It was the first exhibition devoted to the artist following World War II and the first public display of Burchard's scholarship. It included a number of either unpublished or little-known works, many of which have now found their way to public collections.

Prof Sir Christopher White

Former Director of the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford

12:35 - 12:45

Intermezzo 2

Video: Anne Olivier Bell: assistant to Ludwig Burchard 1939-1941

12:45 - 14:15


14:15 - 14:40

A brief history of the catalogue raisonné

This contribution will focus on the origin of the modern catalogue raisonné, by looking at its development in the nineteenth century. The focus will be on evolutions within this type of art historical writing, as well as on the changing context in which it was professed. The subsequent evolution is sketched by means of the work of several hallmark catalogue authors, namely John Smith (1781–1855), Johann David Passavant (1787–1861) and Max Rooses (1839–1914).

Koen Bulckens

Researcher, Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Antwerp

14:40 - 15:05

“Good old Max”: the German art historian Max J. Friedländer (1867-1958), contemporary of Ludwig Burchard

In 1913 the young Ludwig Burchard started as a volunteer at the Berlin Print Room, under the supervision of the then director Max Friedländer. Friedländer, who built up an impressive career, can be considered as a pioneer in art-historical scholarship. The foundations he laid out with regard to the study of early Netherlandish painting proved to be lasting and his approach towards connoisseurship is still worthwhile to take notice of. An important aid in the development of his connoisseurship constitutes the introduction of the photo reproduction.

Suzanne Laemers

Curator of Early Netherlandish Painting, RKD (Netherlands Institute of Art History)

15:05 - 15:30

To be announced

15:30 - 16:15


16:15 - 16:40

Empathy and deep understanding: Fritz Grossmann's Bruegel Archive at the Rubenianum

From March 1939 Dr. Fritz Grossmann found rescue in London and became Burchard’s assistant Rubens researcher for several years to come. In the meantime he himself became known as an expert on Bruegel and his followers. Following Burchard’s example in method and in legacy his Bruegel archive was donated to the Rubenianum. This lecture briefly describes his education at the University of Vienna and his professional activities as an art historian prior to his emigration. It introduces his permanent but unfinished Bruegel research on the basis of his archives.

Hilde Cuvelier

Researcher, Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, Brussels

16:40 - 16:50

Epilogue: "Aufmerksamkeit nicht immer gleichmäßig". The scholar as schoolboy

This brief talk serves as an epilogue and as a transition to the festive evening programme. It will present school report cards, scribbles, remarks and notes from the archive which are of little direct scholarly value. These seemingly marginal documents are revealing nonetheless, as they give us an idea of Burchard’s personal preferences, of his sense of humour, and of an endearing boyish charm.

Bert Watteeuw

Curator of research collections, Rubenianum, Antwerp


All lectures are in English.
Safe and unlimited parking is available in the car parks:
Near Rubenianum: Parking Theater, Parking Arenberg, Parking Hopland
Near Antwerp Town Hall: Parking Groenplaats

mas logo

Kolveniersstraat 20
2000 Antwerpen (Belgium)


Registration is free, mandatory, and open until 27 November.