Yesterday, the Princess and I went off to the Wiertz Museum. I regret deeply that I have never done this before. The place is fantastic. Mr. Wiertz was a romantic artist, a very romantic artist. His work reminds me a bit of Blake but on a monumental scale. Housed in this museum are some of the largest canvases I have ever seen in my life. The Princess and I wandered around saying “wow” and cackling. Cackling because to modern sensibilities Mr. Wiertz’s creations are hilarious and over the top. Well, that was why I was cackling. I think that the Princess was cackling because we were the only visitors and she could roll around the wooden floors and run about like a headless chicken.
Let me give you a little taste of how weird Mr. Wiertz was, this from the official guide in the Museum:
“Wiertz died in his museum. His remains were embalmed in accordance with Ancient Egyptian burial rites. It was his wish to be buried in his garden, but this was refused him…[h]is heart was embalmed separately, and placed in a leaden box, which was handed over to ….his native town of Dinant…”
The rough guide has this to say :
“[the museum] is devoted to the works of one of the city’s most distinctive, if disagreeable, nineteenth century artists. Once immensely popular (so much so that in Tess of the d’Urbervilles Thomas Hardy could write of “the staring and ghastly attitudes of a Wiertz museum”)…”
And here are some of his pictures’ titles:
“The thoughts and visions of a severed head”
You can check out these pictures (and more!) at this useful site. Well, useful, if you’re looking for Wiertz pictures.
Frankly, no trip to Brussels is complete without a visit. Also it is free. And adjacent to the European Parliament (ok, that’s not much of a draw, I grant you).
on 07 October 2004 at 14:10
That’s fab. And how appropriate that the Parliament Building on Rue Wiertz. If only I’d known it was there when my boss was still an MEP ……
on 07 October 2004 at 14:38
Goodness! I particularly like ‘The Reader of Novels’. A must for my next visit, please.
on 07 October 2004 at 14:57
Yes, ‘The Reader of Novels’ captures exactly the way that I like to disport myself when perusing a text. Well, ‘The Tale of Lazy Jack Silver’ at least.
on 07 October 2004 at 21:47
HJB, it’s the lesser of two evils, otherwise I have to chase her round the house. Pog, yes, I know… Pub exec, absolutely. Silver, is it any wonder I thought you were a girl with a figure like that?