Understanding the past brings us closer to who we are today — as individuals, but also as a society. For this reason, The Phoebus Foundation likes to look back. Whether it is at an early Christian tunic, a painting by Karel Appel or a drawing by Bruegel: each of these objects is in its own very specific way a witness to the context in which it was created. Each of The Phoebus Foundation publications immerses the reader in the story behind a work of art. This way, what seemed dead and gone is being brought back to life.

OKV Blind Date

Hannah Thijs
Katrijn Van Bragt
Hildegard Van de Velde


This OKV theme issue appeared in the spring of 2020 for the occasion of the portrait exhibition 'Blind Date'. The booklet guides you through a few subjects that appeal to the imagination within the history of 500 years of portraiture. Only available in Dutch.

[EN]Reynaert de vos

Katharina Van Cauteren
Rik Van Daele
Patrick Bernauw

The Phoebus Foundation, 2018
NL, 90 pagina's


[EN]Het middeleeuwse dierenepos ‘Reynaert de vos’ wordt hier in een modern jasje gestoken. Ontdek de avonturen van de sluwe Reynaert en zijn onfortuinlijke kompanen in deze 21ste-eeuwse hervertelling.

Phoebus Focus

In 2017, The Phoebus Foundation launched a series of academic publications highlighting treasures from the collection. For each new publication, art historians or other experts who are specialised in the theme and can tell the story in an interesting and accessible way were called upon.

Phoebus Focus I

St. Luke Painting the virging and child

Niels Schalley & Sven Van Dorst


In the first Phoebus Focus, a small triptych with the depiction of Saint Luke painting the Madonna is analyzed in depth. Thanks to the combination of art-historical and material-technical research, this remarkable artwork regained some of its forgotten meaning. Only available in Dutch.

Phoebus Focus II

Kitchen still life with Christ in the house of Martha and Mary

Prisca Valkeneers


Things are not always what they seem, like in the Still Life painting with the depiction of Christ in the house of Marta and Mary. If the title does not guide our gaze, this scene would seem to be a banal still life. It is only for those who look attentively that the painting opens a whole world, carefully explained in this Phoebus Focus. Only available in Dutch.

Phoebus Focus III

The allegory of the seven liberal arts

Hildegard Van De Velde


The Allegory of the Seven Liberal Arts is a masterpiece from the Flemish painter Maerten de Vos. For the first time this unique artwork is analyzed in depth and placed in its historical context. Only available in Dutch.

Phoebus Focus IV

Reynard The Fox

Niels Schalley


The fable ‘Van den vos Reynaerde’ was written in the 13th century Flanders. The fox is an antihero: a villain - even a murderer - who mercilessly denounces the hypocrisy of the establishment. The The Phoebus Foundation has a collection with some five hundred publications, reprints and translations of the original Reynaert story. This Phoebus Focus highlights his continued remarkable history. Only available in Dutch.

Phoebus Focus V

The mere-monster of lake tagua tagua

Katharina Van Cauteren

Monster Mania and Court Intrigues in the Eighteenth Century

The Mere-Monster of Lake Tagua Tagua is an intriguing and enigmatic artwork from the collection of The Phoebus Foundation. This absurd animal is the synthesis of more than 300 years of image building. Even more, the Mere-Monsters Monster turns out to be pure political propaganda.

Phoebus Focus VI

Vase of flowers with roses, narcissi and tulips

Sven Van Dorst


In the 17th century, the Jesuit Daniel Seghers must have been some kind of pop star. He worked with Peter Paul Rubens, Cornelis Schut, Gonzales Coques and Erasmus II Quellinus. The highest nobility couldn’t get enough of his flower paintings. Years of thorough and refreshing material-technical research helps to lift the veil between past and present. Discover this remarkable master and his highly appraised craftmanship. Only available in Dutch.

Phoebus Focus VII

Travellers attacked by robbers

Leen Kelchtermans


Peter Snayers specialized in painting scenes of war and combat. In addition to large canvases that glorified military campaigns, he also depicted the ordinary man or woman, plagued by the daily reality of war. The theme ‘A raid on travellers’ is crucial for the oeuvre of Peter Snayers. This Phoebus Focus tells the story of a forgotten master and his place in the turbulent history of the Low Countries. Only available in Dutch.

Phoebus Focus VIII

Apollo on his sun chariot

Hans Vlieghe

A Baroque Masterpiece by Jan Boeckhorst (1604-1668)

This Phoebus Focus highlights an artwork with the depiction of Phoebus Apollo by the baroque master Jan Boeckhorst. Phoebus is the sun god after whom The Phoebus Foundation is named. He is the protector of the muses and thus of the arts. He is also a symbol of light and the sun and is intensely connected with the 'golden age': a mythical era full of endless abundance and justice. Only available in Dutch.

Phoebus Focus IX

Elegant company in a garden

Timothy De Paepe


In this publication, Timothy De Paepe peels the layers of a late sixteenth-century scene, as if it were an onion. If you look superficially, you see what the title of the work promises: elegantly dressed figures celebrating in a garden. But as the author lets you look with the eyes of a sixteenth-century man. He takes you into a world of entertainment and dance, but also of foolishness, envy and lust. Only available in Dutch.

Phoebus Focus X

Portrait of a young woman

Leen Kelchtermans


In this Phoebus Focus edition, Leen Kelchtermans undresses the young woman represented in this artwork, without damaging her honor. By carefully examining each piece of clothing and each accessory, the author gives the young woman back her well-deserved dignity. This Phoebus Focus offers a fascinating insight into the woman’s bygone reality: how she dressed, according to which norms and values she lived, and what it meant to be married in 1613. Only available in Dutch.

Phoebus Focus XI

Folly in the foreground

Larry Silver

‘Mondeken toe’ shows that the boundary between paintings and texts is wafer-thin and that the highest wisdom is sometimes a foolish game. As a connoisseur of Massijs, Bosch and the unique imagery of the Northern Renaissance, Larry Silver dissects all the motifs of the painting. The result is a special analysis of a curious scene, which even after five centuries turns out to be gripped from life. Only available in Dutch.

Phoebus Focus XII

Madonna and child

Marjan Debaene


In this Phoebus Focus, sculpture specialist Marjan Debaene unfolds the forgotten history of the the Jan Borman and his illustrious family. His grandiose statue of the Madonna and Child forms the starting point for this unique study. Only available in Dutch.

Phoebus Focus XIII

Biblia regia on parchment

Dirk Imhof


In 2018, The Phoebus Foundation acquired one of Christopher Plantin's twelve royal bibles, which he printed on parchment. It is the last copy that was still in private hands. In this Phoebus Focus, doctor Dirk Imhof-sketches the context and meaning of this Biblia regia. Only available in Dutch

Phoebus Focus XIV


Naomi Meulemans

In this Phoebus Focus restorer Naomi Meulemans analyses the work of CoBrA artist Karel Appel. Like no one else, she can extract secrets from the materiality of the paint. The author dissects Appel's painting layer after layer. The result is somewhat sobering. Were the CoBrA artists as 'free' as they wanted to believe themselves? Only available in Dutch

Phoebus Focus XV

A sailor and a woman embracing

Nils Büttner

Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) and Modern Painting

Rubens expert Nils Büttner analyses the most intimate work of the Antwerp pictor doctus in the collection of The Phoebus Foundation. He discovers the many similarities with other works of art by the master.

Phoebus Focus XVI

Descrittione di tutti i Paesi Bassi.

Dina Aristodemo

Lodovico Guicciardini (1521-1589) and the Low Countries

This Phoebus Focus explores Guicciardini's masterpiece and its fascinating history. The reader gets a taste of the many themes that the Italian authors address in his magnum opus.

Phoebus Focus XVII

Hairnets, hoods and caps

Petra Linscheid

Covering and Adorning the Head from Late Antique to Islamic Egypt (400-1500 AD)

Archaeologist Petra Linscheid introduces the unique collection of historical Egyptian headgear from The Phoebus Foundation. These rare pieces cover more than a 1000 year of fashion history.

Phoebus Focus XVIII

Portrait of Elisabeth Jordaens

Leen Kelchtermans

Jacob Jordaens’ (1593-1678) Tribute to His Eldest Daughter and Country Life

Who was Elisabeth Jordaens? When did her father, the famous Jacob Jordaens, portray her and why does she look like a peasant woman? In this Phoebus Focus edition, Leen Kelchtermans investigates the context behind the blushing portrait of Elisabeth Jordaens in the collection of The Phoebus Foundation.

Phoebus Focus XIX

Study of a young woman

Katrijn Van Bragt & Sven Van Dorst

This painting of a Young Woman by the Brussels artist Michaelina Wautier appears at first sight to be an ordinary study. Nothing could be further from the truth! A look in detail and behind the layers of paint reveals great secrets of this forgotten important artist.

OKV Theme numbers

The Chancellery of The Phoebus Foundation regularly collaborates with Flanders Public Art Property to publish a theme number. So far, the following editions have appeared.