Barokke Influencers at the Heritage Library
Expo Barokke Influencers in de Erfgoedbibliotheek Hendrik Conscience

Barokke Influencers at the Heritage Library

Heritage Library Hendrik Conscience

Hendrik Conscienceplein 4, Antwerp

22/04/2023 – 10/09/2023


Expo Barokke Influencers in de Erfgoedbibliotheek Hendrik Conscience - zicht op de zaal enkele eeuwen geleden

Barokke Influencers

One of the big exhibitions this year is totally my thing: ‘Baroque Influencers’. In 2018, the Baroque year, I published my book about Baroque in Antwerp (only in Dutch) and as you know, Rubens is one of my favorite painters. My favourite places to guide in Antwerp are the Port House, the Heritage Library and the Sint-Carolus Borromeus Church. Now comes the fun part: the city festival will take place at these 3 locations (and in the KMSKA and the Snijders&Rockox House).

Expo Barokke Influencers in de Erfgoedbibliotheek Hendrik Conscience - ledenregister Sodaliteit

Upper Sodality

In this blog post I only discuss the Heritage Library. The other places will be discussed later in new articles. The building of the Hendrik Conscience Heritage Library has already had many functions before it became the city library. It was, among other things, a military hospital and a carriage rental company, but it once started as a sodality.

A sodality was a Christian brotherhood, a kind of networking group or service club. The men (no women were allowed) gathered every week, including for the mass that was held here. If you look at the building, you will see a ground floor and a first floor with large windows. On each of these floors was a chapel: the lower and upper sodality. The top one was used by the ‘Bejaerde Jongmans’ (the adult bachelors). In the exhibition, a page of the registration register is open, decorated with beautiful drawings.

Expo Barokke Influencers in de Erfgoedbibliotheek Hendrik Conscience - Heilige Rosalia van Antoon Van Dijck

Saint Rosalia by Antoon Van Dijck

For a long time it was not known how this sodality must have looked like. Only travel guides from the 17th and 18th centuries gave a small written look at the room. In 2021, a student came across a painting that depicted the interior. The original painting could not be borrowed for the exhibition, but there is a perfect copy on which you can discover many details.

One of the details is the painting in the middle of the back wall: Saint Rosalia by Antoon Van Dijck. She is invoked against plague and earthquakes. Van Dijck had experienced the plague in Palermo, where there was a great cult of Rosalia. When he returned to Antwerp, the Jesuits had just purchased a relic from her. Van Dyck saw this as a sign to make a work about her for Antwerp and to sell it (for a very low price) to the sodality.

Expo Barokke Influencers in de Erfgoedbibliotheek Hendrik Conscience - Mystiek huwelijk Zalige Herman-Jozef met Maria

Another Van Dijck and two Garibaldos

The upper sodality contained many works of art. Antoon Van Dyck even made a second piece for this space: the Blessed Herman Jozef. In a vision, he entered into a mystical marriage with Mary. The perfect subject for a chapel for the unmarried. The paintings by Antoon Van Dyck can no longer enter the room due to their size, but there is a beautiful projection and a copy of the paintings.

The ceiling was decorated with paintings depicting the life of Mary. Many other paintings hung along the long wall. Some have already been identified, including two paintings by Marc Antonio Garibaldo from Antwerp. A fairly unknown painter. The two paintings by his hand were found in the Sint-Laurentiuschurch of Antwerp and were not visible to the public. One has been restored in honor of the exhibition. I’m not going to reveal which things were discovered in this way, you have to visit the beautiful exhibition …

Expo Barokke Influencers in de Erfgoedbibliotheek Hendrik Conscience - twee teruggevonden werken van Garibaldo


You can only visit this exhibition or purchase a combi ticket with which you can also visit the exhibitions in the Saint Carolo Borromeo church and the Snijders&Rockoxhuis.

If you want a tour of this expo or a walk along the three locations, you can always contact me or book via Experience Antwerp and mention my name as a preferred guide. You can always contact me for other questions or comments.

Barokke Influencers at EHC


Heritage Library Hendrik Conscience

Antwerp, Hendrik Conscienceplein 4

22/04/2023 – 10/09/2023

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