The Phoebus Foundation is an art foundation with philanthropic objectives. The foundation acquires art and provides a professional framework for the conservation and management of art works, ensures their preservation and restoration and aims to achieve a high level of scientific research. The results of these efforts are shared as widely as possible by means of exhibitions and loans, cultural events, symposia and publications. On 15 October 2023, The Phoebus Foundation was officially recognised by the Belgian Minister of Justice as a public benefit foundation (in Dutch: ‘Stichting van Openbaar Nut’, or SON for short). This enhances its impact and allows it to further develop its initiatives.


The Phoebus Foundation was established with a view to ensuring the future of the collection, which was initially a private collection, owned by Fernand Huts and Karine Van den heuvel and/or the family-owned Katoen Natie group. The Foundation wishes to recover high-quality pieces and bring them back to Flanders. In order to safeguard the collection against any claims by family members and the industrial and financial risks run by the Katoen Natie group, it was transferred to an independent legal structure, set up specifically for property rights management. Neither Katoen Natie nor the Huts family are beneficiaries of The Phoebus Foundation. As a consequence, the Foundation’s works of art can never be sold off to benefit the company and/or the family.


From the middle ages to the baroque

Art of the Southern Netherlands

This collection of homegrown art mainly emphasises painting and sculpture, yet also features manuscripts, prints, drawings and decorative objects. Its focus lies firmly on art from the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries, with protagonists of the calibre of Hugo Van der Goes, Hans Memling, Gerard David, Jan Gossaert, Pieter Bruegel, Maerten De Vos, Michaelina Wautier as well as the great Antwerp trio consisting of Peter Paul Rubens, Anthony Van Dyck and Jacob Jordaens.



Lace is intrinsically intertwined with the history of Flanders. Lace objects are often precious family heirlooms, preserved and passed on from generation to generation. Nowhere in the world do they have such a unique character as in Flanders. The Phoebus Foundation’s Lace collection, with over one hundred pieces, offers an overview of this luxury product. From so-called “Van Dyck passements” and “Reticella fragments” to exceptional bridal veils and unique pieces of War Lace.

16th century

Reynaert the Fox

The Phoebus Foundation owns more than 500 books about the medieval animal tale Reynaert the Fox. Starting from the oldest printed books, dating from the early 16th century, this wide-ranging collection covers five centuries of history of literature.

Topography & cartography

Topography and cartography

This collection consists of more than four hundred maps, atlases and city views from the 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. High points are the precious atlases by the first cartographers in our region: Gerard Mercator, Abraham Ortelius, Jodocus Hondius, and Petrus Kaerius. Exceptionally rare is the fully hand coloured Atlas Maior by Willem Jansz Blaeu. This series of 11 volumes contains no less than 592 maps and is on record as the most expensive book published in the 17th century.


Colonial art from Latin America

The collection of colonial art from the New World bridges the gap between the collection of homegrown Old Masters and the collection of 20th-century Latin American art. From the port of Antwerp, tons of engravings and paintings were shipped to the New World and were gradually assimilated in the traditional local imagery. The result, a mix of visual cultures, illustrates this pivotal moment in history.

20th century

Latin American art

The Phoebus Foundation owns the largest collection of Latin American art in Europe, which comprises masterpieces from amongst others Uruguay, Brazil, Argentina, Cuba and Mexico, by famous artists such as Joaquín Torres García, José Gurvich, Julio Alpuy, Antonio Berni, Marcia Schvartz and Wifredo Lam. Some key works from this collection date from the interbellum, so the currents represented here are mainly constructivism and surrealism. The search for identity is a recurring theme in many of these works.

3500 years

Ancient textiles

The collection of ancient textiles is quite simply unique. This subcollection comprises some two thousand textiles and archaeological artefacts from ancient Egypt, supplemented with textiles discovered along the Silk Road in Central Asia.

This collection is shown at the permanent exhibition 3500 years of textile art at HeadquARTers (Antwerp). It takes the visitor on a journey through the history of Egypt, with, from the pharaonic period, linen cloths, animal mummies and fragments of painted cartonnage as well as fragments of Books of the Dead, mounted on linen. From the Roman period, besides some unique fabrics, Roman glasswork, death masks and a number of quite impressive sculptures are on display. The so-called ‘Coptic’ textiles — colourful figurative fabrics — date from the late Roman and early Byzantine period in Egypt. Also highlighted are the Arabic and Central-Asian influences on Egyptian textiles.



The Phoebus Foundation owns one of the largest collections of CoBrA art worldwide, which focuses mainly on the origins and early years of this artistic movement, featuring Karel Appel, Pierre Alechinsky, Corneille, Asger Jorn, Carl-Henning Pedersen and Christian Dotremont. The collection is quite diverse and does not consist exclusively of paintings, but includes engravings, sculptures and items of applied arts, such as carpets and furniture.


Contemporary Art

At Singelberg Sculpture Park, in the port of Antwerp on the left bank of the river Scheldt, The Phoebus Foundation exhibits works by the British artist Sophie Ryder, Pablo Atchugarry from Uruguay, the Dutch Atelier Van Lieshout and home-grown artists such as Michaël Aerts, Hubert Minnebo and Wim Delvoye. In 2018, The Phoebus Foundation acquired a substantial number of sculptures from the former Brussels Airport collection, including works by prominent artists such as George Grard, Jean-Michel Folon, Paul Van Hoeydonck, Jef Van Tuerenhout and Panamarenko.

Period 1880 – 1930

Belgian art


This collection is mainly about the impressionist and symbolist artists from Sint-Martens-Latem, such as Emile Claus, Gustave Van de Woestyne, Valerius De Saedeleer and George Minne. It also includes works by expressionist painters like Gust. De Smet, Constant Permeke and Frits Van den Berghe. The collection also contains works by Rik Wouters, James Ensor, Jules Schmalzigaug, Floris and Oscar Jespers, Edgard Tytgat, René Magritte, Paul Delvaux and Marcel Broodthaers.

What’s in a name?

‘Phoebus’ refers to Phoebus Apollo. In Greco-Roman mythology, the god Apollo was the protector of the muses, with whom he used to frolic on mount Parnassus, where they all lived… Later on in (art) history Apollo also kept turning up as a symbol, as the bringer of inspiration or even divine enlightenment and the representative of a mythical golden age – the paradisiacal era when violence, greed, jealousy and injustice had not yet come into existence.

The Phoebus Foundation - About Apollo
Jan Boeckhorst, Apollo on His Sun Chariot, c.1665


The Phoebus Foundation is the owner of the works of art. The Chancellery manages the collection and coordinates scientific research projects and conservation and restoration initiatives. The Chancellery also ensures the collection’s disclosure by organising exhibitions and loans, cultural and scientific events and publications. The organisation consists of a team of regular and freelance collaborators, operating from an office in Antwerp and an International Office, and is directed by Dr. Katharina Van Cauteren.

The Phoebus Foundation - About

Anglo-Saxon inspiration

In the Anglo-Saxon world, the driving forces behind a cultural environment are often philanthropic in nature. Famous examples are the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles and The Frick Collection in New York. But many other British and American museums also owe their existence to private collections, from the renowned Metropolitan Museum in New York to The Tate and the British Museum in London. Citizens who take pride in their heritage, art and culture consider it a pleasure to ensure the preservation, restoration and display of these treasures. Many of them donate heirlooms, see to the day-to-day running, provide financial support or set up foundations. In the United Kingdom and the Unites States, major foundations, trusts and donations are the backbone of heritage preservation and cultural development. This successful Anglo-Saxon approach was the inspiration for The Phoebus Foundation. Its head office is located in Jersey.

Piet Van der Ouderaa, The Sjongers Family on the Porch, 1907


Fernand Huts and Karine Van den Heuvel were both born in families that had great interest in history, current events, literature and politics, travel, museums and culture and were motivated by a social conscience and commitment. Both Fernand and Karine went to law school at Leuven University. The five years spent in a lively university town had a beneficial influence on their worldview and widened their scope. Fernand and Karine subsequently built their respective careers — his as an entrepreneur, hers as a magistrate — and raised three sons. Their first savings were spent on a family home. After that, any financial extras were spent on books, travel and visits to museums— expenditures that strengthened their resolve to become citizens of the world.