Museum of Fine Arts Ghent opens its festive year with a unique exhibition on the Ghent painter Albert Baertsoen


Image: Albert Baertsoen, Gent, ‘s avonds, 1903. Olieverf op doek, 151 x 155 cm. Brussel, Koninklijke Musea voor Schone Kunsten van België, inv. 4622


On the occasion of the 225th anniversary of the Museum of Fine Arts (MSK) Ghent and the 125th anniversary of the Friends of the Museum, the MSK Ghent will be celebrating for a whole year as of September 2022. The opening exhibition of the festive year focuses on the oeuvre of painter, draughtsman and graphic artist Albert Baertsoen (1866-1922), an artist who played a remarkable role in the fin de siècle in Ghent, Belgium and internationally.

With this exhibition, the MSK, in cooperation with Ghent University, highlights for the first time in fifty years this artist who was described by contemporaries as 'le peintre de Gand' (the painter of Ghent). Baertsoen was a scion of a Ghent factory family, a quasi autodidact, and known for his view of the dilapidated, polluted, deserted city, which he portrayed countless times from the early 1890s onwards.

But his influence reached far beyond Ghent. He was active in London, portrayed the landscape from his luxurious houseboat and exhibited at the Venice Biennale and the Vienna Secession. By the beginning of the 20th century, he was one of the most internationally exhibited Belgian artists.

In order to indicate the affinity, but also the characteristic uniqueness of his oeuvre, Baertsoen's realisations are shown alongside those of his contemporaries, such as Emile Claus, James Ensor, Henri Le Sidaner, Théo Van Rysselberghe and others, artists who greatly appreciated him.

A publication, with contributions by Yann Farinaux-Le Sidaner and Dr Stephen Goddard and published by Snoeck Publishers, will accompany this exhibition.

Albert Baertsoen ​
03.09.2022 - 27.11.2022
Museum of Fine Arts (MSK)
Fernand Scribedreef 1, ​
9000 Ghent

  • Curators: Dr. Johan De Smet, dr. Stefan Huygebaert and prof. dr. René Vermeir
  • Publication: Dr. Johan De Smet, dr. Stefan Huygebaert and prof. dr. René Vermeir, with contributions by Yann Farinaux-Le Sidaner and dr. Stephen Goddard. 
  • Published by Snoeck Publishers; 300 blz., 350 kleurillustraties.
  • Exhibition organised i.c.w. the University of Ghent

Press presentation: 1 September 2022, 10am
In the presence of alderman Sami Souguir


  • 10.00am-10.15am: Welcome by Manfred Sellink, General Manager of MSK Ghent, and Sami Souguir, Alderman for Culture, Urban Development and Spatial Planning of the City of Ghent, and Chairman of the Autonomous Municipal Agency for Art and Design
  • 10.15am-10.30pm: Presentation of 225 years of the museum by Dr Cathérine Verleysen, Head of Collection and Research.
  • 10 .30am-12.00pm: guided tour of the Albert Baertsoen exhibition with curators Dr. Johan De Smet, Dr. Stefan Huygebaert (UGent), Prof. Dr. René Vermeir (UGent).
  • Afterwards you are invited for a sandwich lunch offered by MSK.

Please confirm your attendance before 25 August to Micha Pycke ( or to Soetkin Bruneel (

Selection of images ​

About the festive year of the MSK

Old post card MSK © MSK Gent
Old post card MSK © MSK Gent

In 2023, the 'oldest museum in Belgium' will celebrate its 225th anniversary, and this year, the Friends of the Museum will blow out 125 candles. From 2 September 2022 onwards, these anniversaries will be celebrated with one big cultural festivity. From Friday 2 to Sunday 4 September, there will be a 3-day party weekend at the Museum site. The full programme can be found here.

This will be followed by a year full of exhibitions - after Baertsoen, the first monographic exhibition ever devoted to the baroque master Theodoor Rombouts (1597-1637) - and activities in which visitors are also invited to say how they see the future of the MSK.

The Museum of Fine Arts Ghent (MSK) was officially established in 1798, in the wake of, among others, the Prince William V Gallery (today the Mauritshuis) in 1774 and the Louvre in 1793. In 1802, the museum opened its doors to the general public.

"That makes the MSK one of the oldest museums in Europe and allows it to call itself the oldest public museum in Belgium. As citizens of Ghent, that is something we can be proud of. Moreover, the MSK has a unique collection with works from the Middle Ages to the first half of the 20th century that is not inferior to the European top."
— Sami Souguir, alderman for culture City of Ghent


Just under a century after its foundation, in 1897, the Friends of the Museum of Fine Arts saw the light of day. Since then, this association of friends has helped the collection to grow, by purchasing or donating masterpieces such as The Carrying of the Cross by Hieronymus Bosch, The Kleptomaniac (Theodore Géricault) or the plaster sculpture Smart by Auguste Rodin.

"From September, we will look back on more than two centuries of history, celebrate with the city and our visitors, and look forward to a bright future for Belgium's 'oldest museum'. It will be a programme to look forward to!"
— Manfred Sellink, Director MSK Ghent



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