Church of Our Lady

Anthony van Dyck (1599-1641)

Adoration of the Shepherds and Christ on the Cross
Aanbidding der Herders door Anthony van Dyck

Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerkplein, Dendermonde

Two paintings by the brilliant Anthony van Dyck in one location. Who can match what’s on display in the Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk in Dendermonde? One painting was created by Van Dyck specifically for this site. The other found its way to the church later on. Dendermonde is consequently one of the best locations in Flanders to discover Van Dyck.

Church of Our Lady

The Gothic Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk dates back mainly to the 1300s-1400s. At the end of the 17th century the baroque chapel of the Blessed Sacrament was added in the apse. Due to the ravages of the Iconoclasm in the 16th century the interior consists mainly of Baroque elements. The church is a veritable treasury with many paintings by Flemish masters and liturgical objects.

Aanbidding der Herders door Anthony van Dyck
Dendermonde Anthony van Dyck Christus aan het kruis

Adoration of the Shepherds

In 1631 the Brotherhood of Our Blessed Lady commissioned Anthony van Dyck to create the Adoration of the Shepherds for the altar in the Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekoor (Chancel of Our Blessed Lady). It is an intimate depiction of Mary showing the child Jesus to the shepherds just after his birth. One shepherd carries a lamb, a reference to Christ as the ‘Lamb of God’ who came to redeem mankind. The composition and colour palette are ingenious, with sharp contrasts between dark and light.

 

Christ on the Cross

On the opposite side is Van Dyck’s Christ on the Cross, which originates from the Capuchin Monastery. It has been on display in the church since 1816 because the government of Louis XVII decided to return several stolen artworks following the French occupation. The Capuchin Monastery had already been abolished at that time, which is why the artwork was transferred to the Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk. Typical of Van Dyck are the intensely emotional faces. A friar at the bottom of the cross, with dark robe and pointed hood (or cappuccio in Italian), serves as a reminder of the Capuchin Monastery. The painting will be restored in situ in Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk in the autumn of 2024.

Practical information

Address

Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerkplein z/n
9200 Dendermonde
Belgium
View directions

Opening hours

  • From 1 April until 31 May, open on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays from 13.00 to 17.00 hrs.

  • From 1 June until 30 September, open Tuesday to Sunday from 13.00 to 17.00 hrs.

Accessibility

  • Easy access for people with disabilities.

Good to know 

  • Admission: free

Other sites nearby

sacramentstoren van Hiëronymus Du Quesnoy De Oude
There are not many places outside a museum where you can still admire a Rubens. Sint-Martinuskerk in Aalst, however, has one of his works on display!
Sint-Nicolaaskerk in Sint-Niklaas
There are many Sint-Niklaas churches in Flanders but obviously the one and only is to be found in Sint-Niklaas.
De Fontein des Levens van Lucas Horenbout II (detail)
Discover Lucas II Horenbout in the Klein Begijnhof and briefly escape from the hustle and bustle in Ghent.