“Shortly before Christmas Jack and I spent a few days in Antwerp researching my next Let’s Trail travel guide which will follow in the path of the artist Peter Paul Rubens. Antwerp was a great surprise; it really is a jewel of a city. The historical district has some wonderful architecture and there was a wealth of things to see which related to Rubens.
One of the highlights of the trip was a visit to the Rockox House, which I had never heard of prior to starting my research. The house was home to Nicholas Rockox a wealthy burgomaster of Antwerp and a major patron of the arts and of Rubens. As the Antwerp Museum of Fine Arts is closed for renovation until 2017, selected pieces from the Royal Collection have been put on display in this house, augmenting the already fine collection. Works from the Northern Renaissance are amongst my favourite paintings so I was thrilled to see works there by Jan van Eyck, Rogier van der Weyden and Hans Memling. There were also works by some of Rockox’s contemporaries including Anthony van Dyck, Jacques Jordaens and of course Peter Paul Rubens.
When we were finished sightseeing we sat at one of the city’s outdoor cafes. Kept warm by overhead heaters and the blankets provided while we sipped gluehwein and savoured the lovely Christmas atmosphere. Magic!”