Museum Mayer van den Bergh

Museum Mayer van den Bergh
Lange Gasthuisstraat 19
2000 Antwerp

The museum owns two paintings by Pieter Bruegel the Elder. In addition to Mad Meg, there is a panel that actually consists of twelve separate wooden plates or panels, on which Pieter Bruegel depicts proverbs. 

The name of Pieter Bruegel the Elder is known worldwide. However, this was not the case in Fritz Mayer van den Bergh’s day. Again, he was ahead of his time. Bruegel’s works are now the undoubted high points of the museum collection.

Fritz Mayer van den Bergh was fascinated by Bruegel from an early age. He bought his first Bruegel-designed print in Kortrijk as early as 1890. Three years later, an antiquarian from Brussels supplied him with no fewer than 22 prints after Bruegel.

Cologne, October 1894: a painting is being auctioned. The catalogue lists it as a Landscape with a Crowd of Ghoulish Figures. On the viewing days, the auctioneer hangs the strange work high up, on the grounds that it’s not worth much. You need a ladder to see it properly. Fritz Mayer van den Bergh buys the painting through an agent for less than 500 francs. A few weeks later, Mayer van den Bergh knows for sure that his painting is Bruegel’s Mad Meg (Dulle Griet), a masterpiece previously thought to have been lost.

Fritz Mayer van den Bergh bought the Twelve Proverbs at an auction in Paris in 1899.