In the wealthy Venice of the time, the arts and trade of the most important port looking to the East were flourishing, while on the right bank of the Scheldt in the populous and prosperous city of Antwerp the trade of the most important port looking North was equally busy. In the sixteenth century, goods from all over the world travelled along the roads that joined them, and culture and the arts went with them. In this prosperous setting, shops and studios flourished; the market produced wealth and innovation, styles multiplied and techniques merged and nourished each other. The ambition of From Titian to Rubens. Masterpieces from Antwerp and other Flemish collections is to restore a sense of the cultural and economic ferment that swept across Europe between the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, with its baggage of stories and styles, works and collections.
The artistic production of Antwerp in the sixteenth century presented an extraordinary thematic and stylistic variety, and it is therefore not easy to define its character, which developed a greater uniformity in the seventeenth century but without ever giving rise to a definably native style. With over 140 items that include works that have been absent for centuries from the lagoon where they were produced, or never before on public display, and drawn from the most prestigious public and private collections in Antwerp and Flanders and from other Italian and international museums and collections, the exhibition intends to convey a notion of the richness, complexity, specificity and relationships of a territory at the turn of the century.