As part of ‘Antwerp Baroque 2018: Rubens as an inspiration’, the Rubens House and the MAS are presenting the first survey of the work of Michaelina Wautier (1614–1689). The ‘Michaelina’ exhibition will highlight the exceptional talent of a painter who achieved greatness in an era when women artists were extremely rare.
Friday 01 June 2018 - Sunday 02 September 2018 from 10:00 to 17:00
Individual visitors

The glass ceiling goes back a long way: it was all but impossible for a woman artist to create a stir in the seventeenth century. Although Michaelina’s extraordinary talent was in no way inferior to her male contemporaries, her oeuvre was largely forgotten. Twenty-six of her works have currently been identified, testifying to her provocative themes and superior pictorial technique.


Mysterious Michaelina

We know very little about Michaelina Wautier herself: her life is virtually undocumented. Born in Mons, the artist moved to Brussels in 1640 with her older brother, the painter Charles Wautier (1609–1703). Neither of them married, and they lived together in a stately town house near the church of Notre-Dame de la Chapelle.


Extremely versatile

Wautier set herself apart from her female colleagues through the wide range of genres in which she worked. In addition to portraits and scenes from everyday life, she produced large-scale history paintings – something that even many male artists found daunting. 

She effortlessly depicted both religious themes and mythological scenes, observed everyday reality and painted touching children’s heads along with amazing character studies or tronies. She mastered all the contemporary genres, on both a large and a small scale, making Michaelina Wautier not only unique, but also extremely versatile.


Bold palette

Michaelina also worked on commission for clients like Archduke Leopold Wilhelm, one of the most important patrons and art collectors of his time. Wautier was definitely no amateur, therefore, but a professional who moved in aristocratic circles in Brussels, where she painted the portraits of several leading military men.

Her masterpiece is undoubtedly The Triumph of Bacchus (Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna). This large-scale work not only demonstrates her candid knowledge of male anatomy, she also features in person in the colourful train of drunken acolytes. She presented herself as the bare-breasted maenad who is the only member of the company to look the viewer firmly in the eye.


Practical information


  • Location: the MAS
  • 1 June - 2 September 2018
  • 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (closed on Mondays)
  • Admission: € 10 / € 8 / free

Order your ticket here

Customized group tours (maximum 15 persons)

  • Adults: € 75, plus € 5 administrative costs and the price of admission
  • Tours available in Dutch, English, French and German
  • Reservation as of March 2017 via baroque@stad.antwerpen.be

More about Antwerp Baroque 2018

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