Iconoclasm in the Linder Gallery?

michaeljohn Allegory, Paintings Leave a Comment

In the lunette above the window out over the garden in the Linder Gallery you can make out some people with donkeys’ heads engaged in wanton acts of destruction. They are smashing lutes and globes and removing paintings from the wall. These “iconoclastic donkeys” are often found in Antwerp paintings of galleries of the early seventeenth century, representing ignorance destroying the arts and sciences and also perhaps harking back to the Antwerp iconoclasm of 1566, which had a profound effect on the artists of the city. Some of the iconoclasts appear to be wearing clerical robes and have human faces. It is interesting that the grisaille effect (unique among representations of iconoclasm) gives one the impression that the iconoclasts themselves are “painted out” of the gallery, not on a par with the other paintings shown.

Ignorance destroying the arts and sciences -- Detail from Linder Gallery

Ignorance destroying the arts and sciences -- Detail from Linder Gallery

Iconoclastic donkeys, detail from a painting by Hieronymus Francken

Iconoclastic donkeys, detail from a painting by Hieronymus Francken

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