Renaissance Children


26.03 - 4.07.2021 

For the Burgundian and the early Habsburg princes, Mechelen was not only an important political and cultural hub but also an educational centre. Three consecutive generations of Habsburg princes and princesses, including Philip the Fair, Margaret of Austria and Charles V, spent part of their childhood here.

The exhibition Renaissance Children will gather a unique selection of children’s portraits, which were commissioned for the court at Mechelen, for the very first time, as well as tell the historical, educational and artistic story behind them. Portraits by such prominent painters as the Master of the Mechelen Guild of St. George and Jan Gossart will be exhibited alongside valuable manuscripts that were used to teach children to read and write, as well as treatises on education by Desiderius Erasmus and Juan Luis Vives, sixteenth-century children’s toys and rare jewellery that was said to protect the wearer against illness and death.

Renaissance Children highlights the instrumental role that the court at Mechelen played in the evolution of children’s portraiture and the humanistic ideas that have continued to influence the way in which we raise children today.



With the support of The Raphaël De Smedt Fund, managed by the King Baudouin Foundation

The Raphaël De Smedt Fund aims to disseminate and raise awareness about the work of the painter and sculptor Jan De Smedt. It aims to do this through the website and scientific research, but also by exhibiting Jan De Smedt’s works. The Fund also supports cultural initiatives undertaken by various institutions in Mechelen.