Marquise seeks Art

12 September 2008 - 23 November 2008

When, in 1873, Marie Peyrat married Marquis Giammartino Arconati Visconti, the last member of a noble Italian dynasty, she was thirty-three years old. Sche admits that in the day of her wedding all she owned was one dress and one pair of shoes ...

This brand new marquise soon became a rich widow and spent part of her immense fortune on restoring Gaasbeek Castle, one of her favorite pieds-à-terre. She was spellbound by art and history, and created a fairytale castle in neo-Renaissance style which she filled with an impressive collection of art: the perfect example of the romantic passion for collecting.

Marie Arconati Visconti also organised political salons, surrounded herself with a small circle of admirers and actual or supposed lovers and, a very sharp-tongued woman, behaved in a way that was highly unconventional for her era. Her life was full of paradox, and still appeals to the imagination even today.

Marquise seeks Art sets up a fascinating dialogue between the historical figure of Marie Arconati Visconti and contemporary art. In this remarkable exhibitio, both nationally and internationally established artists and new names turn the spotlight on the marquise's complex personality from unexpected angles.

In their work, artists Dotty Attie, Veronique Branquinho, Leo Copers, John de Andrea, Berlinde De Bruyckere, Anouk De Clercq, Wang Du, Tracey Emin, Sylvie Fleury, Unni Gjertsen, Tessa Lauwaert, Lawrence Malstaf, Sofie Muller, Nadia Naveau, Erwin Olaf, Sara M. Peeters, Cindy Sherman, Barbara Visser en Heidi Voet allude to a number of leitmotifs including changing identities, sexual freedom, artistic taste (or bad taste) and the position of women in aristocratic, artistic and intellectual circles.

Marquise seeks Art balances between extremes, between playful and committed art, between perfect integration and sharp contrast, between historical reference and current events, between the artwork's own story and the marquise's personal history.

The castle's historical rooms give a surprising and unique perspective to the work of art, a backdrop against which the last marquise constantly pops up and disappears again.


Read here the article 'Fatal Attraction' in Flanders Today from 8 October, 2008 (Denzil Walton).


  • Cindy Sherman, Madame de Pompadour (née Poisson), 1988-1991 © Cindy Sherman, courtesy collection SM's Stedelijk Museum 's-Hertogenbosch (NL), picture Luc Van Muylem -
  • Wang Du, Le baiser, 2005 © Wang Du, collection Albert Koski & Danielle Thompson, picture Luc Van Muylem -
  • John de Andrea, Girl with the Red Drape, 1984, © collection Adrian David, Knokke, picture Luc Van Muylem -
  • Sofie Muller, Shemale Child, 2005 © Sofie Muller, picture Luc Van Muylem -

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