The Werner Wieland Collection is one of the largest paintings collections specialising in 19th century romantic, academic, neo-gothic and

neo-renaissance art from Belgium and Holland. It is the largest private owner

of such art from Flanders and contains amongst others one of the most complete overviews of artists in these categories associated with the world famous Antwerp and Brussels art academies. The collection is named after its founder, the Flemish novelist Werner Wieland. 


Paintings Exhibition of Flemish 19th Century Masterpieces from the Werner Wieland Collection,


From Wednesday April 6 to Sunday April 24, 2022 the Werner Wieland Collection will be holding a Retrospective Exhibition about the19th Century Flemish romantic painter Nicasius De Keyser.  Entry is free.  The location is an art gallery on Wolstraat 26, 2000 Antwerpen, near the town’s main square and the Hendrik Conscience Square.  Opening hours are from Wednesday through Sunday, from 12 noon to 7 pm.


There will be 13 representative works on display by the painter himself.  In addition some works by his principal teachers Joseph Jacops and Matthijs Van Bree and some by his main pupils such as Godfried Guffens, Jan Swerts, Karel Ooms, Piet Van der Ouderaa and Eugene Siberdt.  This tribute is the first one in several decades dedicated to the renowned painter Nicasius De Keyser.


Nicasius (or Nicaise) De Keyser was born at Zandvliet in 1813, in a poor farming family.  But at young age his drawing talents were noticed, like in a fairy tale by a noblewoman, who recommended he follow classes with the Antwerp painter Joseph Jacops.  De Keyser further complemented his studies at the famous Antwerp Academy under teacher Matthijs Van Bree.  From the 1830’s onwards he established himself as an independent artist of historical romantic paintings and portraits.


His monumental rendering of the Flemish Battle of the Spurs was a sensational entry at the 1836 Brussels Salon and established his nationwide fame.  This work also lies at the roots of the Flemish national movement, as it inspired the Flemish author Hendrik Conscience to write his novel in Flemish “The Flemish Lion”, after which gradually Flemish people and language obtained equal rights in the Belgian State.  The original canvas was destroyed in WW II, but a large size second version by De Keyser is still extant and will be shown in the exhibition.


In the 1830’s De Keyser also established his own studio in the Antwerp Vleeshuis building with pupils such as Karel Verlat, Jan Swerts and Godfried Guffens.  He would paint many historical romantic scenes covering European and Flemish history and artists.  Between 1840 and 1844 he also travelled extensively throughout Italy.  In that period he married Isabella Telghuys, herself a painter.   In 1855 he took over the role of Director of the Antwerp Academy from the Baron Gustaf Wappers and remained in this post until 1880.  Under his leadership the Academy continued to flourish and expand as one of Europe’s leading art schools, attracting Belgian and international students.


De Keyser also developed a universal reputation as portrait painter of kings and princes and leading figures in society, all eager to commission their portrait with the master.  Examples of his portraits can be found in palaces in Belgium, Holland, Sweden, Germany, Russia and elsewhere.  In this matter De Keyser belonged to a small group of distinct 19th century portrait painters such as Jan Adam Kruseman, Jan Frans Portaels and Franz Winterhalter.


De Keyser executed a number of important ornamental mural paintings in the romantic style for a villa in Nice, but above all for the Antwerp Museum of Fine Arts, representing leading figures in Flemish art history.


Around 1880 he resigned from his post as Academy Director and travelled a number of times to Spain, where he painted canvases about local life.  He passed away in 1887 and was buried in his native Zandvliet.  He received in his lifetime many honorary titles and honorary academic memberships.  One of Antwerp’s leading boulevards, the De Keyserlei, was named in his honour. 


Paid for guided tours of about one hour, during regular hours or in the evening, can be ordered for this exhibition by writing info@wernerwieland.eu