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Sous bénéfice d’inventaire ("A closer look at the inventory")

The series of ‘Sous bénéfice d’inventaire’ exhibitions scheduled to take place at BAM will, one by one, emphasise a key work from the collections of BAM/Beaux-arts Mons, which will be explained, put into context and positioned alongside other works – also taken from the various collections held by the different Mons museums – to show the dialogue between them. This way, visitors will be able to (re)discover parts of the collections of the Puissant Museum, the Jean Lescarts Museum, etc.

The work being done to produce full electronic versions of the inventories of the various Mons museums' collections – a task undertaken as part of the process of bringing BAM in line with the necessary standards for accreditation by the French Community of Belgium – gives us the opportunity to (re)discover the wealth and diversity of these collections, and to see well-known pieces placed alongside other lesser-known or overlooked works, and to surround ‘must-sees’ with other, more quaint or anecdotal pieces.

The series of ‘Sous bénéfice d’inventaire’ exhibitions scheduled to take place at BAM will, one by one, emphasise a key work from the collections of BAM/Beaux-arts Mons, which will be explained, put into context and positioned alongside other works – also taken from the various collections held by the different Mons museums – to show the dialogue between them. This way, visitors will be able to (re)discover parts of the collections of the Puissant Museum, the Jean Lescarts Museum, etc.

While these exhibitions are intended to place special focus on one particular work, they also offer a way to derive benefit from the wider inventory of the Mons museums. Also, the pieces taking centre stage will be the focus of in-depth, richly illustrated studies, which eventually will appear in a reference work to be published, devoted to the wealth and diversity of the Mons museums' collections.

The first part of the ‘Sous bénéfice d’inventaire’ series (from 7 November 2009 to 7 March 2010) was devoted to one of the oldest works held by BAM: the astonishing and intriguing panel entitled "La mort, seule certitude" ("Death, the only certainty") dating from the early 16th century, which was shown recently at the exhibition "Trésors anciens et nouveaux de Wallonie, ce curieux pays curieux" ("Old and new treasures from the curious land of Wallonia") at the Centre for Fine Arts in Brussels.

The unusual illustrations present in this work were analysed and presented at the exhibition, alongside its stylistic characteristics and physical aspects.

Also on display were other lesser-known works from the museums' collections, either dealing with the theme of life and death – such as the white marble sculpture from the Jean Lescarts Museum's collection entitled "La Mort et le Chevalier" ("Death and the Knight") and, from BAM's collection, "Saint Jérôme" by Abraham Janssens (early 17th century) and the portrait of the abbot Jacques Neutre by Charles Wautier (mid-17th century) – or forming part of the same stylistic movement, Gothic Renaissance art.

Dealing with similar themes, other legacy works were exhibited, as well as contemporary works by artists from French-speaking areas of Belgium.

A documentary and documented exhibition then, which enabled visitors to gain a better understanding and appreciation of the wealth of the Mons museums' collections.

The exhibition catalogue is on sale for €15 at the BAM shop.

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