Two of the city's museums teamed up for the first retrospective exhibition of the work of Michaelina Wautier (1604–1689), in a unique partnership between the Rubens House and the MAS. The exhibition was a world premiere in demonstrating the exceptional talent of an artist who became popular in a period when female artists were very rare. Her work is so varied and unique that it defies all imagination when it comes to art history.

Friday 1 June to Sunday 2 September 2018 from 10 am to 5 pm

Glass ceilings have been around for years: it was an almost impossible task to make a name as a female artist in the 17th century. Despite being a good match for her fellow male artists, Michaelina's work still ended up being forgotten. We currently know of around thirty of her works. These bear witness to challenging topics and a superior pictorial technique.

Mysterious Michaelina

Very little is known about Michaelina Wautier herself. Her life is barely documented. Born in Mons, this artist moved to Brussels soon after 1640, together with her younger brother, the painter Charles Wautier (1609 -1703). Both remained unmarried and lived in a stately town house near the Chapel Church (Kappellekerk).

Strong palette

Wautier distinguishes herself from her female counterparts due to her focus on many different genres. Besides taking on portraits and genre paintings, she also turned her hand to large format historical pieces – a challenge that even many male painters resisted. She effortlessly portrayed religious themes and mythological scenes. She observed everyday reality and painted both poignant children's portraits and astonishing and interesting figures. She mastered all the genres from her era, both in a small and large format. In doing so, Michaelina Wautier was not only unique, but also unusually versatile.

Masterpiece parade

Michaelina boasts a whole parade of masterpieces, ranging from impressive historical items to genre scenes, flower arrangements and portraits, such as the enigmatic Portrait of a young man (1653, oil on canvas 83.2 x 71 cm, KMSKA). One of the major works is The mystic marriage of Saint Catherine (1649, oil on canvas, 181 x 243 cm, Grand Séminaire de Namur). However, this artwork was in a poor state, and required thorough restoration in order to look its best in 2018. The absolute apotheosis is the monumental canvas known as the Triumph of Bacchus (ca. 1655, oil on canvas, 295 x 378 cm, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna). In this large format work Michaelina showed no hesitation in revealing her knowledge of the male anatomy. Disguised as a half-naked possessed woman or 'bacchante', she also walks in this colourful parade of drunk accomplices and is the only one in the group to look spectators right in the eye. It was this Bacchus parade that caused the curator Katlijne Van der Stighelen to start studying Michaelina's work over 25 years ago.

Download the visitor's guide: MAS_Michaelina_gids_EN.pdf

Practical information

Michaelina, Baroque's leading lady.
From 1 june until 2 september 2018

Baroque Festival Card

The Baroque Festival Card is valid for 48 hours (from the first use) and entitles you to free admission to all the exhibitions and monumental churches that participate in the cultural urban festival 'Antwerp Baroque 2018. Rubens inspires'The Baroque Festival Card costs €25 and is available for purchase in the visitor centres of Visit Antwerpen in Grote Markt and theCentral Station and in the Rubens House. You can also purchase this card online.


Tuesday to Friday: from 10 to 5 pm (last tickets at 4 pm)
Saturday and Sunday: from 10 to 6 pm (last tickets at 5 pm)

Every last Wednesday of the month late-night opening until 7 pm
Closed on Mondays

During Museum Night (Museumnacht) on 4 August the exhibition will be open to visitors between 7 pm and 1 am.

Antwerp Museum App

Download the Antwerp Museum App. It'll give you detailed information on the works of Michaelina.

Guided tours and other offers

Visitors can enjoy guided tours around the exhibition, family activities, holiday workshops, events, hotel packages … For the complete offer, see

Reservations for groups

Offers on

Make a reservation at

Visit Antwerpen
Grote Markt 13
2000 Antwerpen
tel. +32 (0) 3 338 95 30


This first retrospective of Michaelina Wautier is the result of years of intensive research by Prof. Dr. Katlijne Van der Stighelen (KU Leuven). The exhibition has been created in close collaboration with the Rubens House (Ben van Beneden).

Prof. Katlijne Van Der Stighelen is an academic professor at the department of Archaeology and Art Sciences at the K.U.Leuven. She also teaches the course ‘Woman and art’ in the inter-university programme ‘Women's studies’ at the UA. Besides Antwerp's 17th century portrait painting, her research now mainly focuses on female artists and their expression of the self-image.

Antwerp Baroque 2018, Rubens inspires

This exhibition is part of 'Antwerp Baroque 2018, Rubens inspires'. The cultural city festival pays tribute to Peter Paul Rubens and his baroque, cultural legacy. During the festival the spotlights will be on Peter Paul Rubens, one of the most influential artists ever and Antwerp's most famous resident. He characterises the baroque era and remains a major source of inspiration for artists and the atypical lifestyle of Antwerp and its residents. ‘Antwerp Baroque 2018, Rubens inspires’ tells a story about baroque back then and now and creates a dialogue between historic baroque and contemporary art, with the city and the world in the background. ‘Antwerp Baroque 2018, Rubens inspires’ is a key event in the Flemish Masters' programme organised by Toerisme Vlaanderen. It promises to be extremely extrovert, combining artistic individuality with authentic hospitality.