The Van Herck Collection comprises more than 700 drawings and 110 terracotta objects dating from between the 17th and 19th centuries. They are above all preparatory works for monumental sculptures and sculpted ornamental church furniture, made by artists from the Southern Netherlands and particularly from the Antwerp region. Collected by the Antwerp art merchant Charles Van Herck (1884–1955), this exceptional collection was acquired by the King Baudouin Foundation’s Heritage Fund in 1996-1997.
The collection is an essential source for the study of the Antwerp Baroque period and of the process of creating sculptures. Among the works are preparatory pieces made by great artists such as Lucas Faydherbe, Artus Quellin the Elder, Jan-Peter van Baurscheit the Elder, Michiel van der Voort and Laurent Delvaux.
Coming from a veritable dynasty of antique dealers, Charles Van Herck is one of the most famous Antwerp art dealers. He took almost fifty years to assemble this collection of over 800 pieces, which provide a major contribution to the rediscovery of 17th and 18th century Antwerp sculpture.
The drawings and terracotta objects in the Van Herck Collection are a vital source for the study of the Antwerp Baroque period and the process of creating sculptures. They illustrate not only the artists’ creativity and virtuosity but also provide an important historical source since many of the sculptures themselves that were created have disappeared or been destroyed.
Some of the drawings in the collection are early sketches, whilst others are much more detailed. The terracotta objects are in fact bozetti, rough, three-dimensional sketches for a sculpture, or modelli, which are more detailed, or vidimi, which are finished models. The collection thus provides us with an idea of the preparatory phases in the creation of a piece of sculpture.