If you’re my age or thereabouts, you remember learning a poem that begins like this at school:
About suffering they were never wrong,
The Old Masters; how well, they understood
Its human position; how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along…
The poem is called Musee des Beaux Arts and it’s by W. H. Auden. It goes on to describe the fall of Icarus, as painted by Brueghel which shows that no one takes any notice of the amazing event – a boy falling out of the sky. The painting is in the Musée Old Masters, part of the complex of Royal Museums here in Brussels.
It was one of my favourite poems at school because I loved the line about how the dogs go on with their doggy life, but there are two English teachers in our group who said they didn’t know it, so I guess nobody teaches it any more. What a shame!
There were so many lovely artworks in this museum!
We mainly focussed on early Flemish and Netherlandish art but there are a couple of later works in this slideshow:
After a break for coffee in the cafe, we checked out the Musee Fin-de-Siècle. These were interesting because there were quite a few Bolshie paintings and a couple of the sculptures looked almost like Stalinist art which made me wonder about Belgian politics at the end of the century. Were they pro socialism??
Anyway, my favourite from this Fin-de-Siècle collection is the one called Listening to the Music of Schumann. Does she like it, or not??
We had a delicious buffet lunch at the Brasserie (ordered in my best French!!) and then we set off round the corner to the Museum of Musical Instruments. We confined ourselves to the second floor where they had the most fantastic collection of classical instruments I’ve ever seen. I’m sorry that the photos are not very good, everything was in glass cabinets and there were lights shining everywhere, but still, I hope you can see the amazing shapes and sizes of the early and experimental versions of the instruments our orchestras use today.
Tomorrow (yikes!) we have to be on deck at 8:30 for a day trip to Wallonia. Will do my best to report in at the end of the day…