The Groeninge Museum offers a varied overview of the history of Belgian plastic arts. Although the Flemish Primitives are a high point, you will also marvel at top 18th and 19th-century neoclassical pieces, masterpieces from Flemish Expressionism and post-war modern art.
The Fine Arts Museum of Bruges, better known as the Groeningemuseum, is internationally renowned for its significant holdings of early Netherlandish painting, which has formed the core of the museum’s most successful exhibitions in recent decades. This part of the collection consists of a number of masterpieces by Jan van Eyck, Hans Memling, Hugo van der Goes and Gerard David, as well as works by the minor masters active in Bruges in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, including the Masters of the Lucia- and Ursula Legend, Ambrosius Benson, Lancelot Blondeel and Pieter Pourbus the Elder.
In short, the Groeningemuseum houses a reference collection of unique depth and quality: a collection of importance to the study and understanding of artistic production in the Low Countries – Bruges in particular – during the transition from the late Middle Ages to early-modern times.
The absolute highlight of this museum is formed by the magnificent collection of Flemish Primitives.
Culminating in a sublime painting by Jan van Eyck , 'The Madonna with Canon Van der Paele " enormous detail , beautiful colors ( even now ) . A painting where you can watch hours and then you have not seen all the details.
Signature paintings such as Jan van Eyck’s Virgin and Child with Canon Joris van der Paele and Hans Memling’s so-called Moreel Triptych already entered the collection in the early nineteenth century, when artworks that had been taken to Paris during the Napoleonic occupation of the Austrian Netherlands were returned to Bruges and entrusted to the local Academy of Arts.
In 1828 the Bruges Academy received a collection of paintings previously kept in the town hall, among them the Justice of Cambysis by Gerard David, and the Last Judgment by Jan Provoost, as well as Hugo van der Goes’s Death of the Virgin, which was restituted to the city together with thirty other paintings that had previously been lodged in the Ecole-Centrale (the provincial museum) during the French occupation. In 1892, ten years before the important exhibition Les Primitifs Flamands was mounted in Bruges, the Academy decided to give its collection of paintings back to the city authorities: thus the Municipal Museum of Painting, the later Museum of Fine Arts, was born.
The origin of the Groeningemuseum can therefore be traced to the first decades of the eighteenth century, which makes it one of the oldest museums in Belgium. For most of its early history, the Groeningemuseum was linked to the Bruges Academy, which was founded in 1717 by a small group of Bruges artists as the “Confraternity of the free and exempt art of drawing” (exemption, that is, from the guild regulations). Its bylaws of 1720 stipulated that every draughtsman (teeckenconstenaer) donate either a drawing or another example of his craftsmanship to the school. The works that were received – a collection of paintings and drawings by the then contemporary artists of Bruges – were exhibited at the Academy’s facilities in Bruges’s Poortersloge and were accessible to teachers and pupils of the academy as well as to other visitors. Even though the Academy’s collection was completely destroyed by the fire that swept through the Poortersloge in 1755, the Academy continued to receive donations of paintings from living artists and from the families of deceased artists, as well as gifts from private collectors among the local nobility and from wealthy members of the urban bourgeoisie. The Academy’s collection focused exclusively on contemporary Bruges painting of the eighteenth century, of which the Groeningemuseum still possesses a unique ensemble of paintings by such artists as Matthias De Visch (1701-1765), Paul Jozef De Cock (1724-1801) and Jan Anton Garemijn (1712-1799).
Time information: from 1 January 2014
Tuesday - Sunday
09:30 am - 17:00 pm
additional opening dates
28 March 2016
16 May 2016
additional closing dates
5 May 2016
25 December 2016
25 December 2016
Cover photo: : Jan D'Hondt for Toerisme Brugge