In less than a decade, Fritz Mayer van den Bergh managed to collect some 3,000 art objects. Passion, decisiveness and perseverance characterise the young collector. His hunger for art was insatiable. He scoured Europe looking for treasures and he was the first art lover in Antwerp to look for a painting by Pieter Bruegel the Elder. Together with his mother Henriëtte, he bought sculptures, illuminated manuscripts and art objects from the 15th and 16th centuries. With a fierceness and passion, the young collector steadily realised his dream … until fate struck. Fritz Mayer van den Bergh died young and unexpectedly. He was only forty-three years old.
After his sudden death in 1901, Henriëtte was left to achieve her son’s unfulfilled wish: a museum to exhibit his breathtaking collection. In 1904 she fulfilled that wish. Since then, the Museum Mayer van den Bergh has stood as an intimate tribute from a mother to her deceased son.
The Museum Mayer van den Bergh is located in the heart of Antwerp. When you visit the museum today you will enter a world full of paintings, altarpieces, sculptures, manuscripts and tapestries, displayed in an atmospheric interior full of delicate, small art treasures. Above all, you will feel Fritz’s enthusiasm and expert eye and his mother’s unconditional love for her son.
Among the masterpieces is one of the highlights of Western art history: ‘Mad Meg’ by Pieter Bruegel the Elder. This was beautifully restored in 2018 and so, now more than ever, it is well worth a visit. You will also find out that Fritz bought the work via an intermediary, for barely 488 Belgian francs. A risky but well-considered purchase, which turned out to be a genius find.