Visiting M Leuven: Hieronymus Cock – The Renaissance in print

What to do when you’re on vacation? All the things you can’t when you’re not, of course! In this case, that means going to exhibition(s), sitting in a cafe people watching, going for a walk, and just enjoying ourselves without caring about work or university or schedules.

Thursday we headed to Leuven to see the exhibition about Hieronymus Cock, a publisher from the 16th Century that made his living making prints based on drawings from artists such as Breugel and Raphael. Remarkable too is that his wife continued with the business after his death, for 30 years, until her own death. Not something you hear often from that period.

Some prints are plain surrealistic. Like these two:

Hieronymus Cock © Joannes and Lucas Van Doetecum after Allart Duhameel, The Siege of the Elephant, c. 1563 © Royal Library of Belgium

Hieronymus Cock © Joannes and Lucas Van Doetecum after Allart Duhameel, The Siege of the Elephant, c. 1563 © Royal Library of Belgium

"Pieter van der Heyden after Pieter Bruegel the Elder: Big Fish Eat Little Fish (17.3.859)". In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/17.3.859 (October 2006)

“Pieter van der Heyden after Pieter Bruegel the Elder: Big Fish Eat Little Fish (17.3.859)”. In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/17.3.859 (October 2006)

These prints are a work of art. And they are also very entertaining. You can spend a lot of time looking at all the details, the crazy theme, or just the absurdity of using a giant knife to cut a big fish open.

There are also prints that were with artists in mind. They depict classic art, mostly found in Rome. Ruins, statues, landscapes… I loved this one particularly:

The Statue Court of the Palazzo Valle Capranica, 1553. Maarten van Heemskerck, (1498 - 1574). Printed by Hieronymus Cock, Flemish (Antwerp 1510 - 1570 Antwerp)

The Statue Court of the Palazzo Valle Capranica, 1553. Maarten van Heemskerck, (1498 – 1574). Printed by Hieronymus Cock, Flemish (Antwerp 1510 – 1570 Antwerp)

The exhibition itself takes four rooms from the first floor of the M Museum. There must be around 150 prints from all styles: classical art, landscapes, religious, portraits, imaginary creatures, maps. It took us about two hours to see the whole exhibition, pausing at some prints more than others (some are just too interesting and you keep finding details). The price is not bad (9€ for adults, 7€ for students older than 26, etc) considering you can visit the whole museum for that price, and then go visit the Treasure of Saint Peter’s.

All in all, a recommended visit. And you have until the 9th of June to go.

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