This small but attractive museum is named after the Antwerp art collector Fritz Mayer van den Bergh (1858-1901) and features many of the works of art that he collected in the late nineteenth century.
What surprised me about Mayer van den Bergh, when I read about him in the museum’s Gallery Guide, was that in his lifetime he was practically the only collector to take a serious interest in the sixteenth century painter Pieter Bruegel the Elder (1525-1569, also spelled Brueghel or Breughel).
“Mayer van den Bergh stood alone in his interest in Bruegel’s work. Not only was Bruegel almost unknown, but the work of the several painters in the Breughel family was confused. Mayer van den Bergh was the first to distinguish between Pieter Brueghel the Elder and his sons Pieter the Younger and Jan.”
The Gallery Guide explains that in the nineteenth century the art of Brueghel and his contemporaries was “little appreciated” and was “considered of strange or even questionable taste. However, in the twentieth century it was recognized as one of the high points of European painting in general.”
Address: Lange Gasthuisstraat 19
My photos in this post are from 2012. I revised the text in 2020.
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