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Elegant Company in a Garden – A Musical Painting full of Sixteenth-Century Wisdom

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Phoebus Focus IX

Enjoying the good things in life is precisely what the group of friends are doing in Elegant Company in a Garden, a late-sixteenth-century painting from the circle of the Antwerp artist Joris Hoefnagel (1542-1600). The Phoebus Foundation acquired this unusual and intriguing work in 2016. Difficult to pigeonhole, it exudes a joyful and carefree atmosphere. The painting is a feast of colour with the suggestion of sounds (music, birdsong) and movement (the dancers). Yet all is not what it seems. If you look carefully, you can spot a grotesque, naked and malevolent woman lurking in the greenery. Has she come to disrupt this idyllic scene?


Timothy De Paepe
(1981) is director of Museum Vleeshuis | Klank van de Stad and research assistant at the University of Antwerp. He previously studied Germanic Linguistics and Literature at the University of Antwerp and Cultural Management at the University of Antwerp Management School (UAMS). He has been working at the University of Antwerp since 2006, obtaining his doctorate there in 2011 with a thesis on theatre and opera in Antwerp in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. In the Phoebus Focus series he previously published Portret van Henricus Liberti. Een muzikaal schilderij van Antoon Van Dyck (1599-1641) (Portrait of Henricus Liberti. A Musical Painting by Anthony Van Dyck (1599-1641)) (2022).


  • 21 x 14,8 cm
  • 104 pages
  • Softcover
  • Quadrichromy
  • English edition
  • ISBN 978 94 6436 640 2

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