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Masterpieces from the Governement of Flanders

Flanders possesses a magnificent collection of movable cultural heritage. This must be preserved because of its special archaeological, historical, cultural-historical, artistic or scientific significance. With the 'Masterpiece Decree', the Flemish government wanted to protect these unique cultural goods. Based on the decree, a list of rare and indispensable objects was compiled. Collections can also be recognised as top items.

Which objects from the collection has the Government of Flanders recognised as masterpieces?

Mystical Marriage of Christ

2 stained-glass windows

The MAS collection contains a number of beautiful stained-glass windows from the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries. Two of the rare intact examples are listed as Flemish masterpieces: rather large stained-glass windows from around 1600 depicting the Mystical Marriage of Christ.


The conversion of Saul

The Saulus tableau depicts a Biblical scene: on his way from Jerusalem to Damascus, the Roman Saul, persecuting Christians, is blinded by a lightning bolt and thrown from his horse. This tile tableau of over 1 by 2 metres has 98 tiles in majolica, colourful and glazed earthenware.

The Averbode altarpiece

In the centre of this altarpiece, those close to Christ are mourning his death, and above in miniature, we see Christ again, but alive and in the limbo of Hell. Below, each of the three women are depicting a virtue: Faith, Hope and Love. When the altarpiece is closed, you can see the tortured Christ being shown to the people on the left, and on the right, Jesus being offered a sweat cloth by Veronica.

The cope of Nonnemielen

This choir hood is a luxurious robe from around 1500 and is a fine example of the so-called "opus anglicanum". It is one of the few surviving examples that ended up in Flanders. For Antwerp, the image on the choir hood is very special.

Three guild tokens

The MAS keeps an extensive and important collection of historical tokens and coins, among which these three masterpieces. They were made for the guilds or trades. These were professional and interest associations led by a dean elected by the members.

Guild chain of a Sint-Jorisgilde

This necklace, a guild chain, comes from a German or northern Dutch marksmen's guild with St George as its patron saint. It belongs to the so-called guild silver, with objects from the guilds' environment.

‘Cask hood’ of an alembic

This ‘helmet’ is indispensable in illustrating the history of distillation in the Low Countries. In various 16th and 17th-century engravings and paintings, you can see how vapours were cooled down and converted into liquids in a helmet like this. In Belgium, we do not know a second one like this.

The nine contemplations

The nine contemplations on the impurity of the human body depicts how finite the human body is. Japanese monks used such series as an aid to their meditation.

Sarvavid Vairocana

The 54 preserved miniatures in this series together form a visual guide for meditation on a mandala. This is a depiction of the cosmos, in this case with Sarvavid Vairocana – the most important of the five heavenly or dhyani Buddhas.

Study painting First entry of Napoleon to Antwerp

Napoleon's visit to Antwerp in 1803 was a high point for the city on the Scheldt.  Joséphine de Beauharnais, Napoleon's wife, ordered a painting to immortalise the entry. This is a preliminary sketch for that.

Table with colourful inlay

The Dutchman Pierre Gole made the exceptional ceremonial table for the castle of Vincennes, as commissioned by Louis XIV himself. It is one of the most important pieces of furniture in public ownership in Belgium.

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