Please note: the exhibitions open until 2 pm on Tuesdays

Not Only Bruegel and Rubens: The Painting of the Low Countries at Wawel

The Collections of Wawel Royal Castle and the National Museum in Gdańsk

The exhibition presents a broad panorama of artistic creativity in the times of Pieter Bruegel and Peter Paul Rubens.
In the 16th century the Southern Netherlands, which encompassed modern-day Belgium, were one of the most important art centers in Europe. The city of Antwerp played the leading role. It was where Bruegel painted and where Rubens had his famous workshop—which Polish prince Ladislaus Sigismund Vasa visited in 1624. The city, located on the mouth of the River Scheldt at the cross-roads of Europe’s most important trade routes, was experiencing a period of unprecedented prosperity. The favorable economic situation also fostered artistic creativity. Numerous artists from other cities settled in Antwerp, the art market blossomed, and the first collector’s cabinets filled with painting, sculpture, and other precious objects were established. Where Antwerp collectors led, art lovers from other countries quickly followed.

The art of the Low Countries in the 16th through mid-17th century is not “only Bruegel and Rubens”—it is a legion of artists working to satisfy the demand for luxury goods of the increasingly prosperous middle class. On view in the exhibition are not only works that graced the residences of rulers, but also those that adorned the houses of Antwerp’s well-heeled burghers. Alongside works of the finest artistic quality are slightly more modest pictures that were painted in the many workshops producing copies or variations of paintings by celebrated artists. Their subjects were diverse, ranging from religious themes to mythological and genre scenes, and they were inspired equally by Italian Renaissance art, local tradition, and the work of the great 15th-century Netherlandish masters.

Curated by: Dr. Joanna Winiewicz-Wolska (Wawel Royal Castle), with Dr. Franciszek Skibiński and Dr. Beata Purc-Stępniak (National Museum in Gdańsk).

NOVEMBER 30, 2021 – FEBRUARY 27, 2022

location: Wawel Royal Castle, 2nd floor; admission with valid ticket to the State Rooms
  • Tuesday–Sunday: 9:30 am–5:00 pm, last entry 4:30 pm (December 31; January 6 - last entry 4 pm
  • closed: December 24-26; January 1

Exhibition Partners

"Not Only Bruegel and Rubens" has been organized in collaboration with the National Museum in Gdańsk. The exhibition was previously on view at the Regional Museum in Toruń and at the Green Gate, a branch of the National Museum in Gdańsk.