From Scribble to Cartoon

Drawings from Bruegel to Rubens

17.11.23 – 18.02.24

In this exhibition, the Museum Plantin-Moretus will present 100 of the finest old drawings from Flemish collections. As a whole, this will form a stunning and representative overview of who, why and how people drew in our region in the 16th and 17th centuries.

With the exhibition From Scribble to Cartoon. Drawings from Bruegel to Rubens in autumn 2023, the Museum Plantin-Moretus is placing its masterpieces, and those of fellow institutions in Flanders, in the international spotlight.

Several drawings have never been shown to the public before. A number of works will not be on display after the exhibition either, due to a mandatory long-term rest period in the depot. This makes the exhibition a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see a number of unusual and resounding pieces side by side: Rubens' sketchbook as a 12-year-old, Anton van den Wyngaerde's 10-metre-long Panorama of Zeeland and the extremely rare Italy sketchbooks of the sculptor Pieter Verbruggen (now being exhibited for the first time ever). And besides big names such as Pieter and Jan Brueg(h)el, Anthony van Dyck, Jacob Jordaens or Pieter Coecke van Aelst, as well as beautiful and rarely shown works by lesser-known draughtsmen like Jan van Stinemolen, Cornelis de Vos, Jan Boeckhorst, Godfried Maes and Jan Erasmus Quellinus will also form a surprising discovery.

"The visitor is challenged to look beyond the subject depicted to the purpose the drawings served, and why the artist chose certain materials, techniques, format and dimensions in doing so."- Virginie D'haene, curator of old prints and drawings at the museum.


The quality of the drawings preserved in Flanders is extremely high. In 2020 and 2021, the Flemish government placed a large number of 16th- and 17th-century drawings on the masterpiece list. These are some rare masterpieces by Bruegel, Rubens, Van Dyck, Jordaens, Jan Fijt and other artists. All are extraordinary or indispensable works of art, such as the rare drawings by Paul Vredeman de Vries discovered in 2019, and works by Joris Hoefnagel, Hendrick van Balen and Johannes Stradanus.

The museum is using this masterpiece recognition to highlight its unique collection of drawings. It is pulling out all the stops with a retrospective that illustrates who, why and how people drew here in the 16th and 17th centuries.

"With a collection of more than 100,000 objects, the Prints Room ranks among the top fifty of the world's most important prints rooms. The collection is constructed around Antwerp artists, from 1500 until today. In the depots, Rubens, Van Dyck, Tuymans and Panamarenko lie side by side."- Iris Kockelbergh, Director

At the same time, the exhibition 'Rare and Indispensable' at the MAS (31.10.23 to 25.02.24) presents a completely different dimension to the Flemish masterpiece list. Famous paintings by names such as Magritte, Bacon, Ensor, sculptures, precious silver, mediaeval manuscripts and rare furniture can all be admired there. What you normally have to cross all of Flanders to see, is now temporarily on display in one place – in Antwerp.


The Museum Plantin-Moretus' own collection forms the basis for the exhibition, but will be supplemented by complementary masterpieces from other Flemish public and private collections. The exhibition will be accompanied by a publication that visualises and contextualises the overview of Flanders' finest drawings in an attractive design.


The Museum Plantin-Moretus manages one of the oldest printing houses in Europe. Less well-known is that its prints room is also among the best in the world. With this exhibition, the museum is placing this special collection, and those of fellow institutions in Flanders, in the international spotlight.


Due to its original approach, The Getty Foundation selected the exhibition From Scribble to Cartoon. Drawings from Bruegel to Rubens for the grant The Paper Project: Prints and Drawings Curatorship in the 21st Century. This international programme supports young curators of print and drawing collections in their professional development and in building up expertise in art on paper. The grant, worth 81,000 euros, will allow the curator of the exhibition, Virginie D'haene, assistant curator of the Prints Room at the Museum Plantin-Moretus, to conduct research into drawings worldwide and provide a scholarly publication to accompany the planned exhibition.

This exhibition has come about with the support of the Flemish Government and The Paper Project, an initiative by the Getty Foundation.


  • From 17 November 2023 to 18 February 2024
  • Museum Plantin-Moretus – Vrijdagmarkt 22 – 2000 Antwerp
    tel. +32 (0)3 221 14 50 – –
  • Open Tuesday through Sunday, from 10am to 5pm. Excluding public holidays.
  • More information and tickets on the website:
Website preview
From scribble to cartoon
In this exhibition, the Museum Plantin-Moretus shows the 85 most beautiful old master drawings from Flemish collections. From scribble to cartoon: Drawings from Bruegel to Rubens gives an astonishing and representative overview of the art of drawing in our regions in the 16th and 17th centuries.
Museum Plantin-Moretus


Nadia De Vree

Perscommunicatie Cultuur, Stad Antwerpen


About Museum Plantin-Moretus

The Museum Plantin-Moretus is the residential house of the Plantin-Moretus family which contains the publishing house – printing press. The oldest printing presses in the world are here. They bear witness to the first industrial distribution of knowledge and image. The rich art collection is located in the historical residence, including paintings from family friend Peter Paul Rubens. The residence as well as the printing establishment is on UNESCO’s prestigious World Heritage list.

The museum in images