Five Belgian works of art not to be missed


‘Adoration of the Mystic Lamb’ by the van Eyck brothers, ‘The empire of Light’ by René Magritte, ‘Intrigue’ by James Ensor, ‘Dull Gret (also known as Mad Meg)’ by Pieter Breughel the Elder and ‘Vertigo’ by Léon Spilliaert. These are the five Belgian works of art belonging to the art canon in ‘Culture Club’, the cultural programme on the Flemish TV channel VRT.

Which works of art must every Flemish person be sure to see at least once in real life? Culture Club organised a poll to find out. 3 569 people took part and Adoration of the Mystic Lamb turned out to be the most popular. The panels that were created by the brothers Jan and Hubert Van Eyck hang in St. Bavo's Cathedral in Ghent. The work has been undergoing restauration over the last few years. It is also the most notorious painting, as one panel was stolen in the 1930s and has still not been recovered.

The Belgians are no strangers to surrealism, so it's no surprise that René Magritte is also very popular. The mysterious The Empire of Light, of which there are several versions, is in second place.

Masks play a key role in this remarkable work by James Ensor. His piece named Intrigue, which is in third place, aimed to denounce civil hypocrisy.

In fourth place is Dull Gret by Pieter Breughel the Elder, a piece that is close aligned with the macabre worlds of Jheronimus Bosch and in which decadence and greed are dominant.

The most striking name in the top 5 is Léon Spilliaert. Vertigo is a watercolour created by this painter from Oostende in 1908. Despite being less known outside Belgium, he is certainly worth discovering.

The only artist still living lies just beyond the top 5: Jan Fabre with his bronze statue The man who measures the clouds.