A Thousand Words

The Archdukes Albert and Isabella Visiting the Collection of Pierre Roose

by Hieronymus Francken II & Jan Brueghel the Elder

In this picture, painted in 1621–1623, the archdukes Albert and Isabella, the Hapsburg regents of the Southern Netherlands, have come to pay a visit to the collector Pierre Roose. More specifically, they have come to pay a visit to Roose's cabinet of curiosities. With the rise of bourgeois wealth and the mania for collecting and investing in art in the Low Countries, pictures like this became a minor specialty, and they often involved the collaboration of several artists. Not all of these paintings (in fact, very few) . . .

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Mary Elizabeth Podles is the retired curator of Renaissance and Baroque art at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. She and her husband Leon, a Touchstone senior editor, have six children and live in Baltimore, Maryland.

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