Musée Félicien Rops: Namur’s own rebel without a cause
Text: Eddi Fiegel | Photos: Musée Félicien Rops. Copyright 2017 360images.be, Benoit Trémouroux
Belgium has many fascinating museums, but sometimes it can be the lesser known galleries which prove to be the surprise gems. The Musée Félicien Rops is undoubtedly a case in point.
In a former mansion in a pedestrianised area of old Namur, less than an hour’s drive south-east of Brussels, this award-winning museum is home to the most comprehensive collection of paintings, drawings, engravings and letters by the anti-establishment, 19th-century caricaturist, symbolist and engraver Rops.
Although Rops spent much of his later career in Paris, he was originally from Namur, and the collection in the museum, which spans some 700 square metres, includes his illustrations to the poems of his friend – the French poet Charles Baudelaire.
Rops was also a celebrated letter writer and his correspondence therefore forms a major part of the museum, with some 4,000 letters, all of which are also available online at www.ropslettres.be.
Rop’s letter writing was held in such esteem that painter Edgar Degas told his friend Manet “That one writes even better than he engraves […]. If they ever publish his correspondence, I’ll sign up”.
The museum was awarded the ‘People’s Choice Award’ in 2007 and the ‘Museum Award’ in 2008 and 2014, and also holds regular temporary exhibitions such as the current show centred on the 19th-century Belgian artist and illustrator Maurice Bonvoisin, better known as ‘Mars’. There are also themed activities for children as well as a special guided visit for eight to 12 year olds, entitled ‘Rops and Roll’.
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