M Leuven expands its collection with dragon and religious silverware

M Leuven expands its collection with dragon and religious silverware

In recent weeks, M has grown its collection with striking religious works of art. At an international auction, M purchased a small dragon: a part of a fifteenth century choir stool that most likely originates from the Leuven St. Peter’s Church. In addition, former alderman Mia Hamels-De Kelver donated liturgical silverware from her brother Jan De Kelver (1922-2014), former pastor-dean of St. Peter’s Church, to the museum.

“I am very happy with the new acquisitions,” says M’s president and the alderman for culture Denise Vandevoort. “The statuette from the choir stalls and the silverware from De Kelver are of high quality and have strong links with our town. They fit perfectly within the collection of M Leuven. After all, the museum has a solid reputation in the field of woodcarving and precious metalwork. The family donated these beautiful objects to M because it is important to make them permanently accessible to the people of Leuven. I would like to express my thanks to them for this,” concludes Denise Vandevoort.


About the small dragon

The graceful oak sculpture represents a dragon with its mouth wide open. The wooden handrail of the choir stool probably dates from the middle or second half of the fifteenth century.  “The statuette most likely originates from the St. Peter’s Church in Leuven. As soon as the statue arrives from Paris, it will be subjected to further scientific research,” says head of collections Marjan Debaene. “That research will reveal exactly when the oak sculpture was made and even who the maker is. It is by no means an unknown: it is probably Jan II Borman, who made the Triumphal Cross in St. Peter’s, or possibly Nicolaas De Bruyn, the hand behind the ‘Sedes Sapientiae’ and the choir stalls in St. Peter’s. For our collection, we are looking both for top pieces such as works by Flemish Master Dieric Bouts and for works of art that are relevant to the history of our town,” says Marjan Debaene.


A chalice ensemble and two oil boxes

The donation from the Hamels-De Kelver family consists of a chalice ensemble by the Leuven silversmith Jean Ausloos (1899-1970) and a pair of oil boxes from the Brussels atelier Devroye Frères, both of which being specialised in ecclesiastical precious metals. Ko Goubert, collection curator, explains: “Historical liturgical silverware from Leuven churches and monasteries form an important part of M’s collection, which is now complemented by two fine examples of church silver from the second quarter of the twentieth century. These are examples of the typical fusion of Art Deco styling with neo-medieval decorative motifs of that period."

About M Leuven

M Leuven houses an exciting and unique mix of historical and contemporary art in an impressive architectural setting, designed by the renowned Belgian architect Stéphane Beel. M offers a permanent collection and a mix of temporary exhibitions by old masters and contemporary artists.

M Leuven
L. Vanderkelenstraat 18
3000 Leuven