Over KIK

Over KIK

history of art: ongoing projects

The works of the late-medieval sculptor the ‘Master of Elsloo' in Belgian ownership: art-historical and technical research in an international perspective - Promoter: Christina Ceulemans

Project within the framework of the research campaign Stimulation of Research in the Federal Scientific Institutes (Action 1) - 2010-2011

The project consists of a technical and art-historical study of the works of the late medieval wood sculptor the Master of Elsloo. Few late-medieval sculptors have been attributed such an extensive oeuvre as the Master of Elsloo, whose conventional name derives from a Virgin and Child with Saint Anne from the St. Augustine Church of Elsloo, a sculpture which in the nineteenth century was still listed in the inventory of the Munster Church in Roermond. Almost 200 works of the Master have been identified, around 70 of which are in Belgium, mainly in the province of Limburg. His other works are found in the Netherlands and Germany, in the region that is currently referred to as the Euregio Maas-Rijn. In some important foreign museums, The Master of Elsloo is represented as well.

The aim of this study, set up within the framework of an ambitious three-part international collaboration project (Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany), is to draw up a survey on the Elsloo-works. With its photographic inventory and expertise in the domaine, KIK-IRPA is the logical choice for conducting the Belgian component. By means of art-historical, technical and archival research, we aim to gain insights into the production and workshop of the Master, as well as in similar workshops. One particularly interesting aspect will be the dendrochronological research.


The results will be presented in an  international conference in collaboration with the partners from Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany (Autumn 2011), and in a research exhibition initiated by the Bonnefantenmuseum in Maastricht (Autumn 2012).

The project is led by Christina Ceulemans, head of the Documentation Department. The team will include Vincent Cattersel and Emmanuelle Mercier (technical research), Pascale Fraiture (dendrochronological research), Jana Sanyova (scientific analysis of polychromy), Jean-Luc Elias (photography) and Famke Peters (art-historical research). Peter te Poel, Curator of sculpture and decorative arts prior to 1850 at the Maastricht Bonnefantenmuseum, is the initiator of the exhibition and will conduct the research on the sculptures in the Netherlands. He will work in close cooperation with Arnold Truyen of the Stichting Restauratieatelier Limburg. Partners in Germany are the Cologne University of Applied Sciences (Ulrike Bergmann), the LVR-LandesMuseum Bonn (Katharina Liebetrau) and the LVR-Amt für Denkmalpflege im Rheinland in Brauweiler (Marc Peez). Prof. Michel Lefftz (University of Namur) and Prof. Leo De Ren (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven) are members of the accompanying scientific committee.


Study of paintings by Pieter Bruegel the Elder and Pieter Brueghel the Younger. Preparation of a publication – Christina Currie (KIK-IRPA) – Continuation of research pursued during doctoral thesis, Technical Study of Paintings by Pieter Brueghel the Younger in Belgian Public Collections (supervised by Professor Dominique Allart, Liège University, 2003) - 2003-2010


Several works by Pieter Brueghel the Elder and his elder son underwent technical examination, including infrared reflectography and X-radiography. This revealed the paintings’ different stages of execution, from the ground layer, through to the imprimatura, underdrawing and paint layers. Full-scale tracings were also made. This facilitated comparison of works of the same composition and an estimation of whether cartoons were used at the outset. In certain cases, Pascale Fraiture (KIK-IRPA) carried out dendrochronology to establish an approximate dating. 

For each of the two artists, several compositions were studied in depth: Census at Bethlehem, Winter Landscape with Bird Trap, Sermon of Saint John the Baptist, and Adoration of the Magi. A particularly interesting discovery resulted from the examination of a version of Battle between Carnival and Lent by Brueghel the Younger. For this painting, the artist may have reused a preliminary cartoon made by his father.

This research will be published in the Scientia Artis series, in collaboration with Dominique Allart. Publication is planned for 2010.




The Role of the Service for Belgian Documentation and of the Laboratory of the Royal Musea of Art and History in saveguarding Belgium’s Artistic Heritage: Inventory and Synthesis of the Historical Archives of KIK-IRPA from 1938 to 1948
– Christophe Piron – Co-promoters: Marie-Christine Claes and Dominique Vanwijnsberghe
Project within the framework of the research campaign Stimulation of the Research in the Federal Scientific Institutes – 2009-2010


The old archive of KIK-IRPA, an inheritance of the Service for Belgian Documentation of the Royal Musea of Art and History from which the Institute later grew, has always been difficult to access as a result of its strictly administrative classification system. At present the archive’s increased heritage value makes a broader disclosure imperative. Our project consists of the inventorisation of the documents from the ten years prior to the creation of KIK-IRPA in 1948 and also includes a plan for the digitalisation and safe archiving of the data. Not by coincidence this selected timeframe covers the war years, a determining chapter in the prehistory of KIK-IRPA.

On the one hand we anticipate the revelation of large quantities of valuable information. Thus the archive possibly contains internal notes and correspondence that could further clarify the important role played by Paul Coremans, head of the Service for Belgian Documentation and the later first director of the Institute. We are equally interested in information on the documentary photo campaign organized during the war and which yielded 165000 negatives, and also in further data about the content and the dating of other photographic funds that were bought during that same period of time. Further points of interest are the war-provoked documentation and storage of works of art in urban warehouses, information about an inventorisation of the bells claimed by the occupier, the recovery of works of art that were transferred to Germany and finally the protective measures such as the removal and documentation of stained glass windows. Last but not least the archive may also contain significant information about important works of art and the interventions they underwent.

On the other hand the new information to be retrieved by this inventory will enable the compiling of a first historical synthesis of the direct precursors of the three departments of KIK-IRPA and of their role in the documentation and protection of the heritage during the war years. Ultimately this should lead to a historical publication on the creation and rise of the Institute, the role it has played in the conservation politics for the Belgian heritage and the charismatic figure of Paul Coremans.


Brussels, Front harbour, depository of Belgian bells, summer 1943. KIK-IRPA image number E5418.



België in de Europese avant-garde, de Europese avant-garde in België. Anarchisme in de Belgische kunst van 1850 tot 1940 (Belgium in the European avant-garde, the European avant-garde in Belgium. Anarchism in Belgian art from 1850 to 1940) – Erik Buelinckx – Doctoral study – KIK-IRPA and Vrije Universiteit Brussel – Promoter: Prof. Dr. Hans De Wolf (VUB)
Project within the framework of the confirmation period for research assistant - 1/05/2008-25/02/2010

While researching the links between Belgian artists and the anarchist movement or its ideas, it became clear that most artists from the official canon of Belgian art from 1850 to 1940 and onwards were connected in one way or another to this current. After bringing together all available information, this study will try to determine the role played by anarchist philosophy, ideology and feelings in the creation of these works of art. Finally, the study will shed light on a few anarchist theories on art - mostly little known or misunderstood - that deserve to be ranked alongside the aesthetic theories of the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century. 


De Zuid-Nederlandse publieke groepsportretten 1500-1800. Iconografische, typologische en sociologische analyse (Southern Netherlandish portraits of public groups between 1500 and 1800. An iconographical, typological and sociological analysis) – Beatrijs Wolters van der Wey – Doctoral study – Collaboration between KIK-IRPA and KULeuven – Promoter: Prof. Dr. Katlijne Van der Stighelen (KULeuven) – Copromoter: Prof. Dr. Rudi Ekkart (RKD Den Haag)
Project within the framework of the research campaign Stimulation of Research in the Federal Scientific Institutes – 1/10/2007-30/09-2011

Research conducted in Belgium and abroad has brought to light around 150 Southern Netherlandish portraits of public groups. A catalogue raisonné will give a detailed account of their material, iconographical and contextual characteristics. This catalogue will facilitate the reconstruction of the history of public group portraits in the Southern Netherlands. The following aspects will be taken into consideration: the typology (the different types, their appearance and their evolution) with regards to the function, the social-economic context of commissioning bodies; the choice of artist; and a comparison with group portraits from the same period in the North. The collaboration with KIK-IRPA will make it possible for a certain number of paintings to be photographed and better documented in terms of techniques and materials.


Peter Thijs, The handing over of the founding decree of the Antwerp Academy of Fine Arts to David Teniers (?), 1664. Photograph X018530



Inventory of wallpapers in the Brussels-Capital Region and glossary of the terms of wallpaper – Marie-Christine Claes – Collaboration between KIK-IRPA and the Sites and Monuments Service of the Brussels-Capital Region
Project financed by the Sites and Monuments Service of the Brussels-Capital Region – 2006-?

Since 2006, a close collaboration has been established with the Sites and Monuments Service of the Brussels-Capital Region for the study and conservation of historical monuments. More specifically, this project is aimed at the conservation-restoration and study of wallpapers, a subject neglected too long by art historians. An inventory (material and iconographical descriptions) of wallpapers conserved in public or private institutions or discovered at sites is being prepared and will be put online to serve art historians, conservators-restorators and heritage administrators. Equally important, a glossary of terms specific to wallpaper – production, typology, attachment, iconography, styles, artists and manufactures – will constitute a useful complement to the study of interior decoration. Each term will be illustrated. Accompanied by a bibliography, this glossary will also be made available online.



Wallpaper border attributed to the Parisian manufacture Réveillon, around 1789, retrieved from a site of KIK-IRPA at the Dewez House, Brussels.