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The Belgian self-portraits of the Uffizi
From the nineteenth century to the present
Numerous donations made over recent years have further enhanced the Uffizi collection with self-portraits by important late twentieth-century and contemporary Belgian artists. These have been generously offered by our Belgian friends, Nicole d’Huart and Damien Wigny, enthusiastic connoisseurs of Tuscany and its art treasures. This is what led to the idea of a show of these recently-donated works (the self-portraits of Gaston Bertrand, Berlinde de Bruyckere, Wim Delvoye, Jan Fabre and Louis Van Lint) along with those of other Belgian artists already in the Gallery’s collection.
Rather than removing other older self-portraits from the rooms of the Gallery and the Vasarian Corridor (for example by Rubens, Van Dyck or Suttermans), it seemed more appropriate to foster a comparison between the groups and schools that helped to make Belgian art a leading player in the renewal of languages and trends from the middle of the nineteenth century on.
The contributions of academics such as Anne Adriaens-Pannier, Nicole d’Huarte, Michael Palmer and Damien Wigny, with their profound knowledge of Belgian art, has made it possible to reconstruct in the catalogue published by Giunti a panorama rich in ferment and innovation, while also offering a glance towards the future of Belgian art. Many self-portraits that are stored in the repositories for reasons of space (such as those of Emile Wauters, Fernand Khnopff, Eugeen Laermans and Victor Rousseau), are on show here, arranged along a chronological itinerary which reconstructs the variety of stylistic orientations that range from the composure of the academic approach through to the freer and sometimes crude expressions of more recent times.
Archive research carried out by art historians (Orazio Lovino, Silvia Zanella and Simone Zimbardi) in the historic archive of the Superintendency has yielded new information about the acquisition of the self-portraits of Belgian artists between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. They were indeed solicited as the result of an attentive strategy aimed at augmenting the Florentine collection launched by the Directors of the Gallery, with the corresponding input of the Italo-Belgian Committee which provided a decisive stimulus for the arrival of the works. Therefore, in view of the cultural relations that have always linked Belgium and Italy, the show is offered as a renewed expression of reciprocal friendship and a sharing of the values of art.
Curated byGiovanna Giusti
Tuesday to Sunday, 14.00 to 18.00