The Phoebus Foundation

The Phoebus Foundation is an art foundation established in Jersey in 2011.[1] It is based on Anglo-Saxon law with philanthropic objectives. The foundation acquires works of art, guarantees a professional framework of conservation and management, and looks after the conservation and restoration of the objects. In doing so, it focuses on scientific research. It shares the results of this all with the widest possible audience, through exhibitions, cultural expeditions, symposiums and publications.

The Phoebus Foundation
Logo Phoebus Foundation.jpg
Founder(s)Fernand Huts
HeadKatharina Van Cauteren
Fernand Huts and Katharina Van Cauteren, photo by Marc Gysens


The Phoebus Foundation was founded to ensure the future of what started as the private collection of Fernand and Karine Huts and of the family enterprise Katoen Natie. To extract the collection from the industrial and financial risks of the Katoen Natie group of companies, it was placed in an independent legal structure, aimed at the management of its property rights. The Katoen Natie and the Huts family are not beneficiaries of the foundation. Objects from the foundation can never be sold for the benefit of the company and/or the family. The Phoebus Foundation strives to return high quality pieces to Flanders and/or to keep them here.[2]

Anglo-Saxon inspirationEdit

Phoebus Apollo by Jan Boeckhorst, from the collection of the Phoebus Foundation

The Anglo-Saxon approach served as inspiration for the founding of the Phoebus Foundation, following the example of cultural foundations such as the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles and the Frick Collection in New York.

Financial supportEdit

The Phoebus Foundation and its operations are supported by the companies of the Katoen Natie group and the Indaver group.


'Phoebus' refers to Phoebus Apollo. In ancient mythology, Apollo functioned as the protector and leader of the muses. Together they entertain themselves on Mount Parnassus. Apollo brings inspiration or even divine enlightenment and is the protector of the mythical golden age – a heavenly era in which violence, greed, jealousy and injustice do not yet exist.

Hugo Van der Goes' Madonna with saints from the collection of the Phoebus Foundation, on long-term loan to the Art Institute of Chicago


The collection of the Phoebus Foundation consists of nine subcollections.

Art from the Southern Netherlands from the Middle Ages to the BaroqueEdit

Painting and sculpture are the focal points of this collection, but there are also manuscripts, prints, drawings, and decorative objects. The emphasis is on art from the 15th, 16th, and 17th centuries, including works by Hugo Van der Goes, Hans Memling, Gerard David, Jan Gossaert, Pieter Bruegel, Maerten de Vos and Michaelina Wautier to Peter Paul Rubens, Antoon Van Dyck and Jacob Jordaens.

Belgian art from 1880 to 1930Edit

Rik Wouters 'The pink avenue' from the collection of the Phoebus Foundation

This collection centers around impressionist and symbolist artists from Sint-Martens-Latem, such as Emile Claus, Gustave Van de Woestyne, Valerius De Saedeleer and George Minne. It also features expressionists Gustave De Smet, Constant Permeke and Frits Van den Berghe, as well as works by Rik Wouters, James Ensor, Jules Schmalzigaug, Edgard Tytgat, Floris and Oscar Jespers, and surrealists such as Magritte and Delvaux.

Modern and contemporary artEdit

The Phoebus Foundation owns works by Wim Delvoye, Marcel Broodthaers, Hans Vandekerckhove, Jan Vanriet and Jan Fabre.

In the park Singelberg, the Phoebus Foundation preserves works by the British artist Sophie Ryder, the Uruguayan Pablo Atchugarry, the Dutch Atelier Van Lieshout, and other artists such as Michaël Aerts, Hubert Minnebo and Wim Delvoye. In 2018, the Phoebus Foundation acquired numerous sculptures from the former Brussels Airport collection, with names such as George Grard, Jean-Michel Folon, Paul Van Hoeydonck, Jef Van Tuerenhout and Panamarenko.[3]


The Phoebus Foundation owns an extensive collection of CoBrA art. The focus is on the early period of the movement, with works by Karel Appel, Alechinsky, Corneille, Jorn, Pedersen and Christian Dotremont.

Textiles from ancient timesEdit

This collection consists of fabrics and archaeological objects from ancient Egypt, including from the pharaohs and the Silk Road. The permanent exhibition '3500 years of textile art' is dedicated to this collection in HeadquARTers. The exhibition explores the history of Egypt, with linen cloths, animal mummies, fragments of death books, death masks and the tunic room. The tunic room displays the largest collection of complete tunicas in the world, along with accessories such as hairnets, socks, footwear and jewellery.[4]

World map from Ortelius' Theatrum Orbis Terrarum from the collection of the Phoebus Foundation

20th-century Latin American artEdit

The Phoebus Foundation possesses an extensive collection of Latin American art. The collection holds masterpieces from – among others – Uruguay, Brazil, Argentina, Cuba, Mexico, with names such as Torres-Garcia, Gurvich, Alpuy, Berni, Schvartz and Matto.[5]


This collection holds more than four hundred maps, atlases and cityscapes from the 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Highlights include atlases from Mercator, Ortelius, Hondius, Blaeu[6] and Kaerius.

Reynaert de vosEdit

The Phoebus Foundation is the proud owner of more than 350 books about Reynaert de vos, from the early 16th century to today. This collection was exhibited in 2018 in the form of an 'expedition' about the medieval epic. In order to launch this the foundation worked together with Rik Van Daele, secretary-treasurer of the Reynaertgenootschap.

Port heritageEdit

In 2003 Katoen Natie took the initiative to save the historical patrimony of the port companies. This resulted in a considerable collection of port heritage and historical photographs of the port of Antwerp.[7][8]

Conservation and managementEdit

The Phoebus Foundation is devoted to preserving the works of art from its own collection. The pieces are kept in the best possible conditions in air-conditioned art depots of Katoen Natie. The Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp also keeps a part of its collection here.[9]

In the restoration studio of the Phoebus Foundation, artworks are preserved, restored and subjected to scientific research.


The Phoebus Foundation strives for maximum knowledge acquisition on its own objects and on the broader cultural background in which these objects developed or functioned. In order to do so the Phoebus Foundation works together with academics and researchers at home and abroad. Such projects result into large and small exhibitions and/or publications.

The Dymphna altarpiece by Goswin Van der Weyden, formerly on display at the Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp
Restoration of a 16th-century triptych of 'Saint Luke painting the Madonna'

Zot van Dymphna is a large-scale research and restoration campaign on the 'Dymphna altarpiece' by Goswen Van der Weyden, the grandson of the famous Rogier. This monumental altar comes from the Norbertine abbey of Tongerlo near Geel and has been part of the collection of the Phoebus Foundation since 2010.[10] The restoration treatment takes place between 2017 and 2020.

Thuis bij Jacob Jordaens is another research project. In 1652 Jacob Jordaens painted a series of ceiling pieces about the love story of Amor and Psyche for his spacious home in Antwerp. These paintings have been recognized as masterpieces by the Flemish Community.[11] For the first time in art history they are being restored and explored extensively.


The Phoebus Foundation aims to ensure maximal accessibility of the collection to the widest possible audience. Therefore, she regularly organizes exhibitions:

3500 years of textile art (Enduring)Edit

Since 2011 this permanent exhibition in Antwerp shows fabrics, clothing and archaeological findings from ancient Egypt, Rome and the Silk Road.[12] In collaboration with the Phoebus Foundation and Katoen Natie an international congress by the name 'Textiles from the Nile Valley' is also organized here every two years. The company also finances the publication of the conference bundles.[13]

OER. The roots of Flanders (March–August 2017)Edit

This exhibition was organized in the Caermers Monastery in Ghent. OER talked about a tipping point in art and cultural history, and took the visitor to the early 20th century. In a separate scenography, works from the collection of the Phoebus Foundation were shown here, alongside masterpieces from Flemish private collections, such as from the collection of Herman De Bode. This collection was acquired almost integrally in 2018 by the Phoebus Foundation.

The Birth of Capitalism: The Golden age of Flanders (June 2016 – January 2017)Edit

This exhibition in the Caermers Monastery in Ghent took the visitor through the five golden centuries of the Southern Netherlands, ending at the Eighty Years' War. This exhibition not only showed pieces from the Phoebus Foundation, but also from the Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp, the MAS, the Royal Library Albert I and the GroeningeMuseum. There were works by Hans Memling, Jan Gossaert and Peter Paul Rubens.[14] This exhibition was not undisputed. Opponents talked about the 'marketing of public cultural activities'. At the opening, they therefore organized a symbolic funeral procession.[15]

VOSSEN: Expedition in the land of Reynaert (May–September 2018)Edit

The large collection of Reynaert de vos was exhibited in 2018 in the form of an 'expedition' about the medieval animal epic. The expedition takes visitors on a cycling tour of 40 or 60 km through the Flemish Waasland and the Dutch Zeelandic Flanders. During this experience, the visitors gets to know the medieval story of Reynaert de vos in a playful and accessible way.[16]

Daniel Seghers (1590–1661) in the Keizerskapel (August–September 2018)Edit

After the presentation of the triptych with Saint Luke painting the Madonna, the Phoebus Foundation focuses on another piece from its collection: a floral still life by Daniël Seghers (1590–1661). The art of Daniël Seghers was heavily sought-after by the European nobility during the first half of the 17th century. According to the famous poet Constantijn Huyghens you could almost smell the flowers displayed on the paintings by Seghers. Today Daniël Seghers is hardly known to the public. With this new theme exhibition, the Phoebus Foundation wants to draw attention to this painter.[17]


In addition to organizing exhibitions, the Phoebus Foundation often gives works on loan to museums at home and abroad. For example, works by the foundation were given on long-term loan to the Antwerp Rubens House,[18] the Museum aan de Stroom (Antwerp), DIVA (Antwerp), the Rockox & Snydershuis (Antwerp),[19] and to the Art Institute in Chicago. The foundation also cooperates with the Antwerp Keizerskapel.[20] The Phoebus Foundation also lends short-term artifacts to temporary exhibitions such as the Teseum in Tongeren.

Coptic textiles in the Teseum in TongerenEdit

In the second half of 2018 an exhibition of eighty Coptic objects from the Phoebus Foundation took place in the treasury of the Teseum in Tongeren. The exhibition featured craft items such as clothing, fabrics and tools. Furthermore, it showed Coptic texts, pottery and household objects.[21]



Phoebus FocusEdit

In September 2017, the foundation started publishing a series of scientific publications in which gems from the collection are put in the spotlight. Hereby, for each new publication, art historians who specialize in the theme in question are called upon and can tell the story in a fascinating and accessible way. This series is offered for sale at VOSSEN and in Antwerp in the Keizerskapel and in the Snijders & Rockox House.

  • Phoebus Focus I: Saint Luke painting the Madonna, Niels Schalley and Sven Van Dorst
  • Phoebus Focus II: Kitchen still life with Christ in the home of Martha and Mary, Prisca Valkeneers
  • Phoebus Focus III: The allegory of the seven liberal arts, Hildegard Van de Velde
  • Phoebus Focus IV: Reynaert de vos, Niels Schalley
  • Phoebus Focus V: The lake monster of Tagua Tagua, Katharina Van Cauteren
  • Phoebus Focus VI: Flower vase with roses, daffodils and tulips, Sven Van Dorst


  1. ^ "Huts beheert ook kunstcollectie offshore". De Tijd (in Dutch). 30 June 2018. Retrieved 23 August 2019.
  2. ^ Hildegard Van de Velde (2018). De allegorie van de zeven vrije kunsten. De verbeelding van Maerten de Vos (in Dutch). Kanselarij Phoebus Foundation vzw. p. 64. ISBN 9789082829013.
  3. ^ "Luchthaven veilt Belgische kunst voor goede doel". De Tijd (in Dutch). 20 February 2018. Retrieved 29 April 2018.
  4. ^ De Moor, Antoine; Verhecken-Lammens, Chris; Maertens, Hugo (2008). 3500 jaar textielkunst : de collectie art in HeadquaARTers. Tielt: Lannoo. ISBN 9789020970869. OCLC 317577906.
  5. ^ Malosetti Costa, Laura. Kunst uit Latijns-Amerika: modern en hedendaags. Tielt. ISBN 9789401410847. OCLC 911019711.
  6. ^ Either or both of Willem Blaeu (1571–1638) and his son Joan Blaeu (1596–1673).
  7. ^ Devos, Greta; Asaert, Gustaaf; Suykens, Fernand (2004). De Antwerpse naties zes eeuwen actief in haven en stad. Tielt: Lannoo. ISBN 9020956302. OCLC 902233331.
  8. ^ ATV (24 June 2013). Katoennatie wil havenerfgoed publiek toegankelijk maken.
  9. ^ Van Passel, Véronique (19 June 2012). "Opening Nieuw Extern Depot Van Het Koninklijk Museum Voor Schone Kunsten Antwerpen" (PDF) (in Dutch). Retrieved 29 April 2018.
  10. ^ "Kostbaar altaarstuk uit Belgie gaat bij Sotheby's onder de hamer". De Standaard (in Flemish). Retrieved 29 April 2018.
  11. ^ "Topstukken | Kunsten en Erfgoed". (in Dutch). Retrieved 29 April 2018.
  12. ^ stafdelie. "3500 jaar textielkunst in hoofdkwartier van Katoen Natie". Het Nieuwsblad (in Flemish). Retrieved 29 April 2018.
  13. ^ Vogelsang-Eastwood, Gillian. "Textiles of the Nile Valley Conference, Antwerp 2017". SashWeaver. Retrieved 29 April 2018.
  14. ^ "Huts gaat Rubenstekening showen in Gent". TVOOST – Regionaal nieuws uit Oost-Vlaanderen (in Dutch). Retrieved 29 April 2018.
  15. ^ "Rouwstoet neemt Fernand Huts op de korrel". (in Flemish). Retrieved 29 April 2018.
  16. ^ "Home | Vossen". (in Dutch). Retrieved 6 July 2018.
  17. ^ "Daniel Seghers (1590–1661) in the Keizerskapel -". CODART. Retrieved 21 August 2018.
  18. ^ "Portret van Hendrick Liberti | Rubenshuis". (in Dutch). 5 September 2016. Retrieved 29 April 2018.
  19. ^ Van de Velde, Hildegard. "Snijders&Rockoxhuis. Een verrassend museum in hartje Antwerpen" (PDF) (in Dutch). Snijders&Rockoxhuis. Retrieved 29 April 2018.
  20. ^ "Saint Luke in the Keizerskapel Antwerpen -". CODART. Retrieved 29 April 2018.
  21. ^ De Kopten, een ander Egypte Site Teseum, geraadpleegd op 19 juni 2018

External linksEdit