Adult Audio Guide
100. Director’s Introduction
Christoph Heinrich: Hello, I'm Christoph Heinrich, Director of the Denver Art Museum. I'd like to welcome you to our special exhibition, Saints, Sinners, Lovers and Fools, 300 Years of Flemish Masterworks.
These artworks transport us back hundreds of years to Flanders, a slice of Europe south of the Netherlands in Northern Belgium.
By the 1400s, Flanders had become the financial powerhouse of Europe with global trading connections. Its cities were filled with artists working for wealthy patrons, eager to display their status and interests. Their art ranged from pious religious images to grand portraits, scenes from everyday life and stories from mythology. They also depicted nature and the latest scientific advances, all treated with a sense of realism and detail that marked a radical change in European art.
On your audio journey into this vivid bustling world, you'll hear from Dr. Katharina Van Cauteren, Director of the Phoebus Foundation in Antwerp, Belgium, home to this marvelous art collection. Welcome to Flanders – or, Welkom in Vlaanderen!
101. Follower of Hieronymus Bosch, Hell, c. 1540–1550
Narrator: This painting, made by a follower of Hieronymus Bosch, aimed to fascinate – and to act as a terrifying warning. Death was all around in 16th century Flanders. And for Christians, the certainty of the afterlife meant believing in both heaven … and hell.
This vision of hell is filled with smoking ruins and fiery pits. Over to the right, a sharp-beaked creature sitting on a baby’s wooden potty chair devours and excretes people guilty of avarice, or greed. To the left, demons punish tavern-goers who’ve indulged in cards and drinking. And above them, giant severed ears flanking a knife seem to crush and chop human bodies beneath.
Katharina Van Cauteren: I'm Katharina Van Cauteren, I'm the Director of the Phoebus Foundation.
During the Last Judgment, God would decide whether you would receive the golden ticket towards Heaven or whether you would eternally burn in Hell. So you see that there is an enormous amount of paintings like this rather creepy scene, produced to help remind you of all that.
What fascinates me most about this painting are the musical instruments in the center. And they're supposed to be a warning, because music - at least a non-religious kind - was considered very dangerous. It was the devil trying to make you lose control, while singing or dancing. And you know, if you dance cheek to cheek, who knows which other sins could follow.
Eternity is a long time, so better to believe in God and live your life virtuously, I guess.
102. Master of the Prado Adoration, St Anthony of Padua Rebuking Archbishop Simon de Sully at the Synod of Bourges, c. 1450-75
Narrator: Dressed in a brown monk’s habit, St Anthony has rebuked some French bishops for their love of magnificence. One of them kneels, asking forgiveness. Tears run down his wrinkled cheeks – a detail intended to engage a viewer’s own emotions.
Katharina Van Cauteren: And the theory is once again, from a medieval point of view, that if you want to go to Heaven, the best thing you can do is try to empathize, sympathize with the saints you see in pictures like this one.
Narrator: The bishop’s tears are just one element of the painting that sparkle and gleam. In medieval Christian culture, light symbolized God himself -
Katharina Van Cauteren: - which is why a painter like this pays so much attention to it. And if you look at this painting, you should see how the light falls through the windows, how it softly folds the fabrics with shadows, how it reflects in the gemstones and glistens in the gold.
What's interesting is that Flemish artists invented a completely new technique, which allowed them to catch the light and paint with this amount of detail. They no longer mixed pigment with egg, which was traditionally the way to make paint, but they started mixing pigment with linseed oil and that allowed them to paint in very translucent layers. So the picture almost seems to glow from within, as if it is literally lit by divine light.
103. Pieter Coecke Van Aelst, A Triptych: The Adoration of the Magi, c.1530-1540
Narrator: A triptych, or three-part altarpiece, symbolized the Holy Trinity: God the Father, Christ, and the Holy Spirit. Its side panels could be closed like doors over the central scene – their reverse surfaces usually featured paintings too. Opened up on holy feast days, the altarpiece was a revelation, a glory to behold.
Once, altarpieces were only seen in churches.
Katharina Van Cauteren: But now we're early 16th century, the citizens of the Southern Netherlands are becoming richer and richer, so they have big houses with lots of walls - and they can use a bit of decoration. And if that decoration can help you go to Heaven, all the better!
Narrator: The altarpiece shows the three Magi, or wise men, and the Christ child. It was made in Antwerp, which by the early 1500s, was among the most important European centers of trade - and art production.
Katharina Van Cauteren: There’s this Italian who goes to Antwerp, and he literally writes down that in Antwerp, there are more painters than bakers.
Narrator: The theme of the Magi with their exotic gifts was one of the most popular subjects among successful merchants, who traded in goods from afar. And in fact, religious paintings were among the first artworks that artists made on speculation for the market, rather than as one-off, custom pieces.
Katharina Van Cauteren: They think, if I paint this popular subject, someone will buy it you almost get this kind of supermarket for art. It was a trade, and you had to earn money from it.
104. Jan Sanders Van Hemessen, Double Portrait of a Husband and Wife Playing Tables, 1532
Narrator: A game of backgammon – what could be simpler and more homely? In fact, almost every detail of this portrait of 1532 reveals important information about this couple and their aspirations.
Katharina Van Cauteren: They were the very kind of people that made the Southern Netherlands rich. He is obviously a well-to-do entrepreneur. You can tell because he's fully dressed in black and so is she - and black was one of the most time consuming, and thus most expensive, colors to make. So, it's really showing off.
Narrator: The wife also has red velvet sleeves – once the exclusive right of the nobility. The fruit plate is both elegant refreshment and symbol of fertility. The grapes and glass of wine represent the Christian Mass, and therefore their faith. And the Amazonian parrot? A prestigious pet – but also a reference to paradise. These are all good marital omens, as are the glances and gestures they exchange.
Katharina Van Cauteren: It's so loving, the man and his wife. They're playing a game of backgammon, but the players are not competitors. You can see how she very caringly touches him.
Narrator: The artist suggests that they help each other successfully navigate the board game of life and business, just as they do with backgammon at home.
Earlier, wealthy individuals might have their family portrayed in a religious scene, kneeling in worship. But more recently, royalty and nobility had realized the power of a portrait in its own right – especially as a way to display status.
Katharina Van Cauteren: And if it's good enough for the nobility, well, the rich citizens follow.
105. Peter Paul Rubens, Portrait of Archduke Albrecht, 1615
Narrator: It’s obvious this is no ordinary person. Artist Peter Paul Rubens expertly ensures that we look up to this splendidly-dressed man. He is Archduke Albert, who ruled the Netherlands in the early 17th century with his wife, the Spanish princess Isabella.
Katharina Van Cauteren: Albert is shown in all his noble glory. You can see his archducal hat on the table behind him. He also has his cartwheel ruff, which was very fashionable. And lace was almost as expensive as diamonds, so he's really showing off here.
Narrator: The ruff’s gleam is picked up by the dancing light on the gold and silver embroidery of his sleeves, conjured up by Rubens’ dazzling brushwork.
Katharina Van Cauteren: It's really something only Rubens could or dared to do at that time. It's like dot-dot-dot-dot, and there's the result. That's magic!
Narrator: The ruff also serves to isolate the ruler’s face, which Rubens paints with penetrating insight. He gives us the sense of a stern, somber character, preoccupied with state affairs.
Rubens was one of Albert and Isabella’s foremost court painters.
Katharina Van Cauteren: Royal portraits are used as political propaganda. So, what happens is that an artist not only paints one portrait, but an entire series of it. And then, well, the archdukes in this case, they can use it as a political gift. And they are sent all over Europe to all the friends and enemies alike just to say, "This is me! - If you hang me in your hall, it also says something about your political background and your alliances.”
106. Quentin Metsys (and Jan Massys), An Allegory of Folly, c. 1525-1530
Narrator: Stranger and stranger… This “fool” or jester has donkey’s ears and a rock for a brain that protrudes from his forehead. The rooster on his cap suggests his chatter is just so much boastful crowing. On his stick perches his rather indiscreet miniature friend. We can expect them to mock each other – but then turn on us!
Katharina Van Cauteren: We, the onlookers, we tend to think of ourselves very highly. But this fool, he knows that he's a fool. So he's one up on the rest of us. But it's a good thing that he puts a finger on his mouth, because we are all just fools like him, but luckily … he won't tell anyone!
Narrator: The scene would have been appreciated for its sly message, but also for its bawdy humor – irresistible to a 16th century audience.
The painting is by Quentin Metsys, who had an incredibly successful career as an artist in Antwerp in the early 1500s. He trained his sons to follow in his footsteps, as did many artists. Flemish and Italian artists were always feeding off one another’s innovations and intriguingly, the Metsys family were no exception.
Katharina Van Cauteren: By the 16th century painters from the Netherlands, they start looking at the new things that are happening in Italy. And one of the new things is Leonardo da Vinci, who is painting, or drawing these caricatures. And you see that somehow Quentin Metsys, and his sons, they must have known these drawings somehow. And you see how they reflect in their own paintings.
107. Pieter Pietersz, The Counter of Groats, c.1560-1600
Narrator: We might think this old man is doing something useful – helping in the kitchen! But for a sixteenth century viewer, the painting would have been hilarious. A man acting as a kitchen maid? No way! And “counting out grains of barley”, in contemporary slang, meant nit-picking - according to Flemish people, an annoying and decidedly female trait.
Katharina Van Cauteren: So, this man behaves like a woman, and they found that very, very funny. Feminism was still a long way off, I would say. And it's also got to do with the emergence of a new set of social rules.
Narrator: The new class of wealthy, urban Flemish citizens was trying to find their place in society between the nobility and the peasants. And in doing so, to establish their own codes of behavior against those of people lower down the scale. So they loved to gather round and laugh together at pictures of peasants acting foolishly for entertainment.
Katharina Van Cauteren: Netflix wasn't invented yet, so you looked at paintings!
108. Johannes Stradanus, Nova Reperta: The Invention of Oil Paint, c. 1590 and other prints in the series
Narrator: In this bustling studio, a finely dressed master artist works on a large picture. Paint in tubes wouldn’t be invented until the 19th century, so apprentices prepare his oil paints.
To the right, a young man grinds pigments made from colored minerals and other organic materials to a fine powder on stone slabs. These were mixed with linseed oil to produce paint. The younger apprentice beside the artist is organizing a new color palette.
Oil paint, pioneered by Flemish artists in the early 1400s, was a revolutionary invention. Previously, pigments were mixed with egg yolk. You had very little time to work before it dried into an opaque, matte surface. Now, artists could build up a scene with layers of translucent oil paint that could be reworked and blended over a long period of time. This gave their work a sense of depth, richness and luminosity.
This print is surrounded by others in the same series portraying inventions and discoveries. They give us a vivid insight into people’s fascination with innovations of all kinds in late 16th century Flanders. You’ll find everything from the printing press and windmill, to the discovery of longitude, glasses, cane sugar – and the Americas.
109. Maerten de Vos, The Baptism of Christ, 1568
Narrator: Painted in pale colors and brightly lit to attract our gaze, Christ is baptized in the river by St John the Baptist. But… wait a moment. This definitely isn’t the sunbaked, Mediterranean landscape of Israel. Instead, we see lush, green meadows, thatched cottages and rocky mountains under a cloudy sky. So… what’s going on?
Flemish artists often set biblical scenes in landscapes that look like those they might see on a journey south. Many would travel down through Germany and the Alps to study in Italy as part of their education. This particular scene is by Antwerp painter Maerten De Vos, who spent time in Venice. We can see the rich, bright colors fashionable in Venetian art reflected here.
Katharina Van Cauteren: But also, the ideal anatomy of his figures reminds us of the classical sculptures he must have seen there. He mixes Northern and Southern traditions in this marvelous painting.
But beware, none of this was painted outside. It was all neatly composed inside a painter’s studio. Which makes total sense because it would take until the 19th century before paint in tubes was invented - before you could go out to sketch. But making paint was very, very complicated, so you couldn't start messing around with pigments and linseed oil outside. You could make sketches outside and then compose the general picture in your studio.
110. Hendrick De Clerck and Denijs van Alsloot, Paradise with Four Elements, 1613
Narrator: Under the apple tree in the center here are Adam and Eve – the first man and woman according to the Biblical Old Testament. They’re about to eat the fruit that God forbade them to touch. To the right, an angel drives them out of Paradise. They emerge into a world filled with riches from land and sea, presided over by four larger figures representing air, fire, earth and water.
The painting was made for the Archdukes Albert and Isabella. It’s full of glimpses of their precious possessions kept in their palace and gardens in Brussels. We see exotic shells, tulips from Turkey, lions, bears – even a Peruvian guinea pig down at the front!
Katharina Van Cauteren: This is almost like a catalog of creation.
Narrator: These natural wonders bear witness to the contemporary fascination with global exploration and scientific discovery.
Katharina Van Cauteren: As from the 16th century, you see how well these new researchers, they start exploring the world around them. //They want to study every flower, every detail.
Narrator: On one hand, we see scientific precision. On the other hand – the lions, bears and sheep coexisting in perfect harmony – probably more symbolic than realistic!
Katharina Van Cauteren: So this is really a political statement.
Narrator: It suggests that the Archdukes will recreate a peaceful, harmonious paradise here on earth. The painting is intriguing for another reason too – Hendrick De Clerck painted the figures, and the landscape is by Denijs Van Alsloot.
Katharina Van Cauteren: The 17th century sees the emergence of the art connoisseur, someone who can discern different hands and styles. And that's why collaboration between artists is something new and exciting for these connoisseurs, for these collectors.
111. Jacob Jordaens, Holy Family with an Angel, c. 1625
Narrator: It’s the angel’s wing that gives the game away – this is no ordinary portrayal of a cherished new baby with his family. Well, maybe also the rosary beads, and the bunch of grapes symbolizing the Catholic Mass. So … this baby is the Christ Child, sitting on Mary’s lap as her husband Joseph beams down at him.
Katharina Van Cauteren: And look at his little hands - it's still touching, even after all these centuries.
Jacob Jordaens must have been a real loving family man. In this painting, he uses his wife and their young child as models for this very touching picture of the Holy Family. And as Jordaens was one of the most important painters in Antwerp, people no doubt knew - they recognized them. These are not faraway saints. They are just normal people like you and me. They even look at you as a viewer, as if to say, come and join us in our intimate moments of prayer.
In the 16th century, the Low Countries were torn apart due to this bitter religious conflict.
Narrator: The newly-emerging Protestant faith was gaining ground.
Katharina Van Cauteren: And art was supposed to bring them back to the good old Catholic faith. And empathy was crucial there - in this painting, Jordaens accomplishes this mission.
112. Peter Paul Rubens, Adoration of the Magi, c.1606
Narrator: Peter Paul Rubens pulls drama, movement and emotion out of his toolkit to bring the story of the infant Christ and the Magi alive in this painting. Bright light beams down from above to draw our attention to Christ, who turns to meet his mother’s tender gaze. At his feet, the oldest of the Magi kneels, his eyes closed in silent adoration. The painting encourages viewers to feel the same way – emotionally moved, their Christian devotion strengthened.
Katharina Van Cauteren: It's such an overwhelming painting actually. It's so small, but it has such power.
Narrator: Rubens painted the scene around 1606, as a young artist in Italy. There, he learned how to create imagery that appealed to viewers’ feelings – but also conveyed compelling political and religious messages. Take those Magi -
Katharina Van Cauteren: They actually also embody the four continents, which is of course also a political and religious statement - Christianity is now everywhere in all four corners of the world. If you look at the little helper at the left, he represents America as a new continent.
Narrator: This ability to pack a painting with different layers of meaning appealed greatly to Rubens’s many royal patrons. Those included the Archdukes Albert and Isabella, who employed him as soon as he returned to Flanders from Italy.
113. Anthony Van Dyck, Saint Sebastian, c. 1627-1632
Narrator: Stuck with arrows by Roman torturers angered by his forbidden Christian faith, St Sebastian leans back against a tree. His body, recalling Christ’s taken down from the Cross, emerges from darkness, bathed in divine light. And his eyes seem to roll back as if he’s on the point of death.
It’s an incredibly theatrical presentation, made even more electrifying by the skill of the artist who painted it. Anthony Van Dyck, like Rubens, was a weapon for Flanders’ Catholic Archdukes to use in their fight against the spread of the Protestant Christianity. Protestantism threatened not just their faith, but ultimately their rule itself.
Katharina Van Cauteren: And of course, they cleverly start using art. So first of all, they give lots of commissions to artists like Rubens, Van Dyck, Jordaens because like no others, they knew how to overwhelm viewers, to touch them emotionally, by using these smart visual tricks. And I like comparing them to movie makers - they just push the pause button at the most crucial scene. And so you get the goosebumps like, ah, what's happening here, and look at this, and now what's next? So the result is that the archdukes they indeed do reestablish their power and centuries later, the core of the Archducal territory will evolve into present day Belgium.
114. Cabinet of Curiosities Room introduction
Narrator: Exotic minerals and butterflies. Intricate medieval carvings and ancient classical sculptures. Paintings that tell stories or present a vase of beautiful flowers that could never in reality bloom at the same moment. Mechanical marvels. Even a stuffed albatross! This space recreates what it might feel like to visit a Cabinet of Curiosities – a room in a wealthy European citizen’s home where such collections were displayed. Feel free to move around the gallery as you listen. Here's museum director Christoph Heinrich again:
Christoph Heinrich: It was almost a theater of the world that people knew at that time. So, it was not just a collection of many different things. It was a depiction of the universe -
Narrator: - of course, the universe as it was understood by the collector! The first Cabinets of Curiosity appeared in the palaces of European rulers. By the 1500s, wealthy citizens wanted their own versions. Cabinets were organized into categories: nature, art, exotic objects from afar, and scientific instruments. Prized rarities thought to be from mythical beasts were especially popular -
Christoph Heinrich: A horn of a unicorn was a very wonderful showpiece of every cabinet, or a dragons egg, or, well, things that really live more in the realm of fantasy.
Narrator: Such collections were certainly status symbols, demonstrating your wealth, and your global connections as a banker or merchant. They also enabled you to entertain visiting friends and scholars with lively discussions on history, art, science, nature … the possibilities were endless!
Christoph Heinrich: You would display your knowledge, but I think you would as well discuss maybe your theories or your ideas - how something occurs in nature and can be reflected in art.
Absolutely these Cabinets were the precursors of modern museums and especially I would say of the idea of the encyclopedic museum - the world art museum, like the Denver Art Museum is one, where you can see objects from very different cultures and very different periods in time.
115. Peeter Neeffs and Gillis Van Tilborch, Elegant Couple in a Collector’s Cabinet, 1652 and c. 1675
Narrator: Some private collections included so much art that you might have a special gallery for it, like the one we see here.
Christoph Heinrich: There's a very broad variety of //paintings represented in this work, and it's landscapes, it's religious scenes, it's still lives, portraits.
Narrator: Such a collection represented considerable wealth.
Christoph Heinrich: I think collecting, then and now, had a lot to do with status. You would establish your rank in society, in having not just a big house, but I think as well, taste and access to the sources where these objects came from - and connoisseurship, so, to know paintings, to know one painter from another.
Narrator: There’s also room for a little comedy – this is Flanders, after all. In the lower left corner, a dog growls at a monkey. A monkey is of course another expensive, exotic possession, who might indeed have jumped out of one of the paintings – especially since the Flemish had a saying, “art is the ape of nature”.
Originally the scene featured five men inspecting and discussing the artworks. But they were painted out, and this couple was added instead. They’re enjoying the art collection that they may have purchased in real life – or perhaps only ever owned in their dreams!
This is the last stop on your audio tour today. We very much hope you’ve enjoyed the exhibition. If you borrowed a device, please return it at the kiosk as you leave.
- Writer/Producer: Frances Homan Jue
- Sound Design: Postmodern
- Spanish Translation: Ana Labayen
- Christoph Heinrich (Spanish: Esteban Silva)
- Katharina Van Cauteren (Spanish: Diana Holguin)
- Narrator: Kendra Hoffman (Spanish: Ana Maria Alvarez)
Family Audio Guide
200. Frans Snyders, A Pantry with Game, about 1640
(Sound effect: boy snoring loudly)
Julien: Oh – Goeiedag! That’s how we say hello in Flanders – our little corner of Europe, squeezed in between France, Germany and the Netherlands. What are all of you doing here in our kitchen pantry? You can’t see me – I’m just out of sight. But my name’s Julien and I’m 14 years old. Like other boys my age in the 1600s, I work already - I’m a kitchen apprentice in a great nobleman’s house. Someday I’ll be a remarkable cook! (Sound effect: Rufus growls) You can look, but don’t touch any of this beautiful food. I’ve got to help the chef prepare it pretty soon. That includes the rabbits hanging way over to the right, above the deer and wild boar. We went hunting this morning in the forest, and I got to collect the rabbits with my dog, Rufus – you can see him over there to the left. (Sound effect: Rufus barks) It’s going to be a big, fancy feast – there’s lobster and grapes – mmm! Those would be way too expensive for my own family to buy. But our nobleman really wants to impress his guests – and he has the money to do it! What’s your favorite food in this pantry?
Mine is…. (Sound effect: Rufus barks and runs out) Rufus! Where are you going? Come baaaack!! Oh no, I bet he’s going to meet up with these two little dogs that don’t even like him. They live in a painting. The strangest thing is happening here in this house, and the artworks have…come to life. You all better come with me to check it out! Let’s meet in front of a painting called The Virgin and the Christ Child with Saint Anne– you’ll see the two dogs and I’ll bet you a guilder Rufus is there!
201. South Netherlandish artist, Saint Anne with the Virgin and Child before a Rose Hedge, about 1520
Julien: Uh oh. Told you! Rufus somehow got into this rose garden – I think he’s hiding in the bushes.. Where would you hide in this painting? I will surely be in trouble if I go in there. (whispering) Rufus! How many times have I told you to leave those dogs Haan and Darby alone? The ladies came here for peace and quiet - not barking dogs!
These look like really special ladies, with their fine clothes and jewels. Oh wait – I think I recognize them from paintings in our town church. That baby has light around his head – so… he’s baby Jesus, who Christians believe is the son of God himself. That’s his grandma in red, and his mom Mary is holding him – a priest told me she wears a blue cloak because she’s queen of heaven, up in the sky. Anyway, let’s tiptoe away before we disturb them.
Rufus, come here! (Sound Effect: dog barging through trees and brush and then licking faces) haha – Rufus, you bad dog. Let’s go visit my very silly friend Elisabet! She is a sort of clown, called a court jester. She lives at the royal palace. Her job is to entertain people and she is so funny. Meet me at her painting called Portrait of Elisabet Court Fool of Anne of Hungary and we can talk to her.
202. Jan van Hemessen, Portrait of Elisabet, Court Fool of Anne of Hungary, about 1525
Elisabet: Hark! Who goes there? State your name!
Julien: You know my name, it is Julien!
Elisabet: What's in a name? A stinker, by any other name, would smell as ghastly!
Julien: (laughing hard) Ahhh – good one Elisabet! And I have brought a crowd for you to entertain.
Elisabet: How about this one: What is the funniest fruit?
Julien: An orange ha ha ha
Elisabet: Want to hear a joke about fish?
Elisabet: What did one fish say to the other?
Julien: I don’t know.
Elisabet: Nothing! (laughing hard)
Julien: I told you all she was funny. Her whole job is to entertain!
Elisabet: Some people think I look strange, with my necklace made of rings that jingle wherever I go. But I have the last laugh – their Highnesses at the royal palace can’t do without me. Palace life can be so boring! Endless meetings. State paperwork. Fancy dinners that go on for hours. What cheers them up? ME! That’s who. I make them laugh and forget their duties, even if only for a minute. Here’s another one…
I asked my dog how am I looking? He replied, wow! [the answer would be “guao”]
Julien: Hahaha! (Sound Effect: Rufus barks) Rufus liked that one! She could go on and on like this for a long time – that's what jesters do. We had better go Elisabet!
Elisabet: Awww - Just one more! Why do seals swim in salt water? Because pepper water makes them sneeze!
Julien: Ahhhh – hilarious. Come on Rufus and everyone, let’s go meet some more silly people. Meet me at The Mocking of Human Follies.
203. Frans Verbeeck, The Mocking of Human Follies, c. 1560
(Sound Effect: dreamlike circus music as Rufus is whining and making confused noises)
Julien: It’s ok, Rufus. Can you all see what Rufus is whining about? If you look closely, you can see the humans in this strange scene are bent over and dealing with miniature sized fools or jesters. Just like our friend Elisabet, only she’s not miniature. This artist is making fun of humans - by painting examples of bad behavior. You see in the front of the painting; some salesmen are sitting at a table with a bunch of tiny people? Let’s go talk to them. Hallo there vendors, what are you doing?
Vendor: What do you think, boy? We are trading fools. Hahahah
Vendor: Why not? (Sound Effect: tiny jester hitting vendor’s head with a hammer) OW. Ow. Ow. Ow.
Julien: Little red fool, why are you sitting on that man’s neck as though you’re riding him like a horse, and hitting him on the head?
Fool: Isn’t it obvious? This guy is so dim-witted, he has a stone for a brain – and I’m trying to knock it out of his head!
Julien: But I thought it’s impossible to cure stupidity through surgery.
Fool: Exactly! (Shrieks with laughter) These big people are just as foolish as they think we are!J: o….kay….What do you all think is happening over to the right, in that cage hanging between two trees? Oh my, it’s a fool hatching a large egg – and another small fool is popping out! So weird!
Vendor: Nothing strange here at all! It means that one should not allow fools to lay eggs as they will only produce more fools. Hahahaha!!
Julien: Uh. Right. I think we’ve had quite enough of this. (Sound Effect: Rufus barks and runs away) Ugh – not again, I guess Rufus didn’t like this one. We’d better go after him. Another place he likes to go is to hear some of the village people singing. Meet me at The Serenade – you’ll hear them!
204. Jacob Jordaens, Serenade, about 1640-45
(Sound Effect: Flemish singing)
Julien: There’s Rufus! See him in the front with his head turned to the woman in the window? Why is everyone looking at her?
Child: We are serenading that woman – she’s my sister. The old people are blowing their pipes and I am singing. I’ll tell you a secret. The artist who made this painting is my dad! He’s the silly-looking man in the middle blowing away on his bagpipe with his cheeks puffed out. (Sound Effect: bagpipe)
Julien: Perfect! I have my instrument right here with me – I'll join in too! (Sound Effect: Julien playing loud horn type of instrument loudly and badly)
Child: Ummm – thanks, but no thanks? Please, you are ruining the serenade. Get out of here!!!
Julien: Ok, ok, we’re going. Everyone let’s get out of here and go visit someone who will appreciate us, like a prince! Meet me at the portrait of Prince Willem II of Orange!
Child: Yes, move along – goodbye!
205. Anthony van Dyck, Portrait of Prince William II of Orange as a Child, about 1631
(Sound Effect: Snooty classical music)
Prince William: Sit, Fidele. Good boy! Here’s a treat. (Sound Effect: Rufus barging in demanding treat too)
Julien: Rufus, no!
Prince William: How dare you enter my realm? How on earth did you even get past my guards?
Julien: Ummm well, I’ve always wanted to meet a prince.
Prince William: I see. I must confess I’m glad to see you - Fidele here is my only friend. And I’m happy for the break – I’m getting my portrait painted and it is so very hard to hold still for hours and hours. I get yelled at if I move a muscle.
Julien: That does sound boring. But you get to wear such fancy clothes.
Prince William: This lace collar is itchy, but I do like the rest of my clothes - see how they are orange? That is my color!
Julien: Of course, you are Prince William of Orange. I also notice the orange tree in the tapestry behind you and your family’s coat of arms.
Prince William: I’ll tell you a secret. This portrait is being painted for a big festival where my father, King Frederik, will announce that I will rule after him!
Julien: You mean we are meeting a future king right now? Wow.
Prince William: Yes indeed. And now I’m five years old, I’m allowed to wear trousers for the first time, instead of little kids’ long dresses. Finally!
Julien: I would do anything to try on clothes as fine as yours, even dresses.
Prince William: Well, you can. After you are done here, go to a magical place called Family Central. There you and your friends here can try on all kinds of fancy outfits. But keep it secret - Only royalty is supposed to wear such finery.
Julien: Thanks for telling us so many secrets, your highness. Where do you think we should go next?
Prince William: The village of monkeys - it’s lots of fun! I wish I could go too, but I have to stay and get my portrait painted. Please come back and visit.
Julien: We will. Bye Prince William!
206. David Teniers II, Festival of Monkeys, 1633
(Sound Effect: Monkeys “talking”)
Julian: Wow! There really is a whole village of monkeys! Artists sometimes use monkeys to make fun of humans. This lot are like people who show off with swanky food and drink and clothing. Hey monkeys! (Sound Effect: Rufus barks)
Monkey: Oh no! humans… and a dog! (Sound Effect: Rufus growls)
Julian: What are you up to?
Monkey: Nothing to see here. We are just doing monkey things - eating and drinking, playing instruments… cleaning our weapons…just in case...
Julian: Oh, we don’t mean any trouble. It’s just – I’ve never talked to a monkey before – especially one so finely dressed!
Monkey: Well excuse us for dressing well and behaving properly. There is nothing to see here so you had better move along. This is the festival of monkeys, not the festival of humans! Monkeys not humans, monkeys not humans, monkeys not hummmm (Sound Effect: strange, dreamy music with a voice in the background)
Chef: Julien, Julien! How are you feeling? Julien?
Julian: Chef! What happened? Where am I?
Chef: Oh, Julien my boy. That large leg of fowl fell off the table and hit your head. The doctor said you should rest, so we left you in the pantry since it’s so quiet. (Sound Effect: Rufus barking)
Julian: Well, Rufus and me had a whole adventure. We went to a royal palace and talked to some fools and monkeys!
Chef: Hmmmm. That must have been some bump on the head. Well, thank goodness you’re back safe and sound.
Julian: It’s true, chef. Just ask all my new friends here.
Chef: I’d say you need some more rest, Julien. You can help with the dinner when you’re ready. (Sound Effect: Chef getting up and leaving)
Julian: Maybe I was dreaming ... But I still think some of it was real - and I know how to prove it! Let’s go find those costumes Prince William was talking about. Ask your adults if you can go to Family Central on the second floor of the Martin building to try them on. Thanks for going on this adventure with me! Goodbye, or as we say in Flemish, Saluu!
- Writer/Producer: Lindsay Genshaft
- Sound Design: Postmodern
- Spanish Translation: Ana Labayen
- Julien: Ryan Paige
- Elisabet: Jessica Robblee
- Prince Willem: Elle Boone
- Vendor/Fool: Eric Braa
- Monkey/Chef: Jay Preston
- Child: Gracia Damsgard
Saints, Sinners, Lovers, and Fools: 300 Years of Flemish Masterworks is co-organized by the Denver Art Museum and The Phoebus Foundation, Antwerp (Belgium). It is presented by the Birnbaum Social Discourse Project. Support is provided by the Tom Taplin Jr. and Ted Taplin Endowment, Keith and Kathie Finger, Lisë Gander and Andy Main, the Kristin and Charles Lohmiller Exhibitions Fund, the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, Christie's, the donors to the Annual Fund Leadership Campaign, and the residents who support the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD). This exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities. Promotional support is provided by 5280 Magazine and CBS Colorado.