From the 14th to the 17th centuries, the cities of Flanders were amongst the most successful in Europe. Trade, textiles and banking all generated enormous wealth, and with it came new ideas and new opportunities. Art was one of the principal beneficiaries. On a tour of the masterpieces of Flemish and Dutch painting, we celebrate the result.
Ghent, Bruges, Antwerp and Brussels are all on the itinerary. Together, their historic centres offer a ravishing display of late medieval and Renaissance architecture. But in this context, what’s most exciting about them is the chance to see epoch-defining art in the cities in which it was made. Sometimes the paintings have been restored to their original settings. After enforced absences in the 19th and 20th centuries, the Adoration of the Mystic Lamb by Jan and Hubert Van Eyck hangs once more in St Bavo’s cathedral in Ghent. Meanwhile, Antwerp cathedral is home to several of Rubens’ most powerful works, including The Descent from the Cross.
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