Antwerp, Oude Beurs 27
A little over a year ago I was instructed to work out the tour in the Hofkamer. The building has been restored in recent years and can now finally be admired in its full glory. I must admit that it was also a surprise for me: this beautiful building and its content.
The Hofkamer is the garden room that François Adrien Van den Bogaert had built as an office and showroom. He lived in Den Wolsack. The name of his house refers to the English wool trade that flourished in this neighborhood in the Middle Ages. There are also various references to wool in the building, namely the ram’s heads. Take a look at the top of the gate of Den Wolsack on the Oude Beurs 27, and in the band at the bottom in the Hofkamer.
Gods on Mount Olympus
One of the highlights (yes, there are several) is the ceiling painting on the ground floor. It is one of the largest in the world and it represents the gods on Mount Olympus. The painter is unknown, but it has been a master in applying quadratura. This means that there is a depth effect, a perspective, it seems that the chimney and the walls continue to the sky.
The canvas was restored from the end of 2008 to 2017. It was very carefully removed from the ceiling and moved to the ING building in Korte Gasthuisstraat. When the restoration was finished, the restoration of the building was not finished, in the meatime it was hung in the Rubenianum. Now it’s back to its original place.
Koen Van den Broek
On the first floor the wall covering was in very poor condition. It was decided to save these for later restoration and to cover the walls with canvases that could be painted. A competition was organized in 2016. The winner was Koen van den Broek. His paintings are descriptions of the landscape, urban architecture, constructions or details thereof. Van den Broek browse his oeuvre and reworked some of his earlier paintings.
On the first floor there is something unique: a book toilet. From the 17th century, the pot that was then the toilet was arranged in a concealed manner. In the Hofkamer the toilet bowl has the appearance of a stack of books. The walls are decorated with fake books. Unfortunately there was a fire in the 1960s, so that the book bindings were seriously damaged.
You can go to the attic floor via a small, steep staircase. Also a beautiful space and a bit hidden is the clock. This has two dials, so that you can read the hour both inside (in the attic) and outside, at the top of the facade. After restoration the beautiful copper dial showed its full glory and you can also read that J. Van Hoof made the clock in 1772. This Van Hoof is probably family of the Van Hoof who designed the clock of the cathedral.
Den Wolsack (and therefore also the Hofkamer) is owned by Herita. You can rent the Hofkamer or visit it with a guide. It is also sometimes opened in the summer months. It is a hidden gem that is definitely worth a visit.
This article first appeared on my other site about architecture in and around Antwerp: archiplore.
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