Newsletter Spring 2008
Spring 2008

Medieval Sculptures from the Schoufour-Martin Collection

From February 16 until May 25, 2008, the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen will exhibit a special collection of colored, late-medieval sculptures. The collection will be donated to the museum by Rotterdam harbor entrepreneur Jacques Schoufour. The sculptures were made around 1500 in the Netherlands, France and Germany. They have been amazingly well preserved and the colors are still as expressive as five hundred years ago.

Fainting of Mary (detail), Southern Netherlands, Brussels (?) c. 1460-1470, 42,2 x 31,5 x 11,6 cm. Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, gift Schoufour-Martin 2006
Fainting of Mary (detail), Southern Netherlands, Brussels (?) c. 1460-1470, 42,2 x 31,5 x 11,6 cm. Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, gift Schoufour-Martin 2006

In the 1970s Jacques Schoufour, an important figure in Rotterdam’s harbour industries, and his wife Ingeborg Schoufour-Martin began to collect wooden and stone sculptures from the late Gothic period (ca.1350-1550). They decided to donate the collection of more than sixty pieces to Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen. This exhibition and the accompanying catalogue honour this generous donation, which has greatly enriched the museum’s own collection.

The presentation of the Schoufour-Martin Collection runs simultaneously with the exhibition Dutch Primitives – Paintings from the late Middle Ages. Most of the sculptures on show, just like the painted panels, were once part of altarpieces, and played a role in church liturgy or private devotion. After it was carved, a medieval sculpture was often not complete. It wasn’t considered finished until the polychrome paint had been applied. The detailed carving as well as the colorful painting, with its tears, drops of blood, colorful clothing and green trees provided the desired realism. Gilding the sculptures indicated at the same time that saints were being portrayed and that the stories took place in a heavenly dimension.

One of the remarkable aspects of the Schoufour-Martin Collection is that so many pieces have retained their sophisticated and valuable finishings. As polychrome paint is extremely vulnerable, and was often painted over after being damaged, or later removed with lye, this is certainly not a common state of affairs. Moreover, during the 16th century iconoclastic furies in the Northern and Southern Netherlands thousands of sculptures were destroyed. The sculptures in the Schoufour-Martin Collection provide a rare view of the colorful medieval church interiors.

For this inaugural presentation of the Schoufour-Martin collection, the museum has invited the artist Sarkis to create a special environment. His installation ‘Landscape forever’ is an island that brings the ‘displaced’ medieval sculptures together in a new grouping for the first time.

The exhibition and the installation ‘Landscape Forever’ have been made possible thanks to a contribution from Stichting Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen.