A new masterpiece of Flemish art was presented on Thursday at the Museum of Fine Arts in Ghent.
It is a bozzetto, a first model for a sculpture, done in the 17th century by Liege artist Jean Delcour. The Flemish government acquired the work at the beginning of the year after receiving confirmation from the Flemish Heritage Council that it was indeed a Flemish masterpiece.
The piece was placed on long-term loan to Ghent Museum.
The bozzetto is a model for a sculpture, made of wax or, as in this case, clay. It is a first sketch of the statue of St. James the Miner made by Jean Delcour for the church of St. James in Liege. The figure is about 47 centimetres high and dates from the period 1690-1691. The bozzetto was put up for auction a year ago. But thanks to the intervention of the Council, Flanders was able to invoke a right of pre-emption and buy the statue for €320,000 after negotiations with its owner.
The baroque artist Jean Delcour was a pupil of the Italian sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini. He was also known as the “Bernini of Liège”. In his time, he became the most important and versatile sculptor in the Principality of Liege.
He received numerous commissions to create altars, pulpits, screens and organ supports for churches and monasteries. The sculptor’s fame and scope of work covered the whole of the Southern Netherlands, with prestigious commissions including the tomb of bishop Eugène-Albert d’Allamont in St Bavo’s cathedral in Ghent