The Painter of Paintings

Only three paintings and several prints by the Antwerp painter Willem van Haecht (1593-1637) are known, but is nothing short of remarkable. His paintings present so-called ‘kunstkamers’ or art cabinets, interiors brimming with paintings and other art objects. Van Haecht’s painted ‘kunstkamers’ combine reality and fantasy. Virtually all of the paintings that he depicted in these interiors were copies of existing works by famous masters. However, they were never part of the same collection. Van Haecht assembled them together in his painted world. Moreover, his cabinets are full of narrative elements referring to the artistic and cultural life in contemporary Antwerp. The three known paintings have never before been shown together, and will form the core of a small exhibition that brings to life the fascinating world of art in Antwerp in the first half of the 17th century. The exhibition is being jointly organised by Mauritshuis in The Hague and the Rubenshuis in Antwerp.