Michaelina. Baroque’s Leading Lady

“Michaelina” showcases the extraordinary talent of an artist who became very successful at a time when female artists were the exception rather than the rule. Michaelina was a contemporary of Rubens. She set herself apart from other female artists at the time because of the genres she chose to specialise in. From 1 June 2018, the MAS will host an exhibition of the work of this leading lady of the Baroque.

Mysterious Michaelina

We actually know very little about Michaelina Wautier (1614-1689). Her life is virtually undocumented. Born in Mons, the artist moved to Brussels in 1640 with her older brother, the painter Charles Wautier. Neither of them married, and they lived together in a stately town house near the church of Notre-Dame de la Chapelle.

A bold palette

Wautier distinguished herself from her female colleagues because of the wide range of genres she chose to specialise in. In addition to portraits and scenes from daily life, she produced large-scale history paintings – something that even many male artists considered a daunting undertaking. To date, twenty-six of her works have been identified, testifying to her provocative themes and superior pictorial technique. She effortlessly depicted both religious themes and mythological scenes. Michaelina Wautier mastered all the contemporary genres, on both a large and a small scale, making her a unique and also extremely versatile artist.

But her real masterpiece undoubtedly is “The Triumph of Bacchus” (Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna). This large-scale work demonstrates her candid knowledge of the male anatomy. At the same time, the artist also chose to portray herself as the bare-breasted maenad, who also happens to be the only figure that looks the viewer squarely in the eye.

Rising star

Michaelina’s body of work is still being pieced together.  The artist is a rising star on the art market, where her work fetches remarkably high prices nowadays. “Michaelina” is the first retrospective of the work of this Baroque artist.

The Rubens House currently visiting the MAS | 01.06.2018 - 02.09.2018

The Klesh Collection


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