I visited the Old Masters section of the Musees Royaux des Beaux Arts or the Royal Museum of Fine Arts of Belgium this afternoon, and quite enjoyed the visit. The entrance is 8 euros for this section, and I went as part of a Meetup which was 5 euros more. I think this was very well worth it, as the lady organizing it had selected a few paintings that she showed us, and told us the history and style behind it.
My favorite was the one below called Panneaux de la justice de l’empereur otton by Dirk Bouts, which translates into the Pannels of Justice of the Emperor Otton.
What you see here are actually two huge paintings which are of a comic book style in the sense that although not clearly demarcated, they have panels in them, and there is a story line that you can read from top left to bottom right.
On the top right side of the left hand side painting, you can see emperor Otton and his queen. The queen wanted to sleep with the man in the white robe whom you can see a little lower down, but the man refused because he was married.
The queen decides to tell the king that this man tried to seduce her, and this infuriated the king who had his head chopped off, which you can see towards the bottom of the painting. This is then given to the man’s wife who knows of his innocence.
The wife goes to the king and tells him that with God’s aid she will do whatever the king asks her to prove her husband’s innocence (on the right painting).
The king asks her to hold a burning piece of metal, and she does so without getting burned or hurt by it.
This proves her innocence, and the king has the queen punished which you can see at the top of the right painting in the background.
Another interesting thing about this is if you look at the beautiful wooden frames, and zoom in on the painting on the right side you will notice that the door in the painting has a similar design to the frame on top. This is because the court in Leuven Belgium where this story is supposed to have taken place had a similar design which was incorporated in the painting.
I thought this was an amazing piece of art with a great story, and I really enjoyed it, as well as the visit in general.