The two works are among the most important masterpieces in Dieric Bouts’ oeuvre. “Dieric Bouts is to Leuven what Jan Van Eyck is to Ghent” says Leuven Mayor Ridouani. “Bouts is one of the great Flemish masters of the Renaissance, who put Leuven on the map.”
The mayor believes the exhibition offers the city the opportunity to present Leuven as the city of Bouts and to get people to explore the city thanks to Bouts’ art. Mohamed Ridouani: “We’re showing world class masterpieces from our city in an innovative and interactive way.”
“Between Heaven and Earth” forms part of the Flemish tourist agency’s Flemish Masters Project. Toerisme Vlaanderen launched the project to put Flemish masters in the international spotlight. The agency invested over half a million euros in the Leuven project.
Flemish tourism minister Zuhal Demir (Flemish nationalist): “Dieric Bouts, together with Rogier Van der Weyden, Hans Memling and the Van Eyck Brothers, is one of the most famous Flemish masters. This unique project not only acquaints the visitor with the masterpieces in the St Peter’s Church, it also uses technology to tempt the visitor to discover the city of Leuven, the backdrop for Bouts’ life and work.”
The Last Supper and Martyrdom of St Erasmus were painted 560 years ago and can today be admired in the setting for which they were created. The exhibition that will run until 7 March 2023 is housed in one of the most famous landmarks of the city of Leuven, the St Peter’s Church. Together with the Leuven Beguinage it is the only landmark in Leuven to be recognised as world heritage by UNESCO, the United Nations’ culture and education agency. The St Peter’s church is a Gothic church that in recent years has undergone massive renovation that has just been completed. Leuven city cabinet member Dirk Vansina: “The restoration took 35 years: 25 years on the exterior and another 10 on the interior. With good care the St Peter’s Church will be free of restoration for the next 50 years, although work on such an iconic monument is never finished".
In order to tell the story of the church’s art treasures in their historical context M Museum Leuven has produced a digital experience that immerses visitors in the twelve highlights of the St Peter’s Church. Visitors should even feel that they are actually part of Bouts’ Last Supper.
Denise Vandevoort is the chair of M Museum Leuven’s board of governors and a Leuven city cabinet member: “The project shows Leuven at its best and touches all facets of the city: the beauty of St Peter’s Church and the Flemish Master Dieric Bouts, who is really coming home to Leuven”.
At the exhibition all information is available in five languages: English, Dutch, French, German and Spanish. There is what is called a ‘digital experience’ as well as a visitor’s guide that provides even more detailed information. For the little ones there are two especially designed family routes, one catering for the 4-to-6 age category and a second for children aged 6-to-10. Both the digital experience and the visitor’s guide take visitors on a journey exploring the history and the present in the city of Leuven and Flemish Brabant Province. The exhibition can also be an incentive to explore Leuven and its wider surroundings. Monique Swinnen is the member of the provincial executive of Flemish Brabant charged with tourism:
“Leuven, our art city, is a top tourist destination in Flemish-Brabant and an excellent point of departure to explore the surrounding Hageland area as well as and the Green Belt by bike."
The St Peter’s Church is located on Leuven’s Grote Markt. The exhibition “Between Heaven and Earth” is open daily from 10 to 4:30 (from 11 to 4:30 on Sundays) and closed on Wednesdays.