My visit to Wiertz Museum on the occasion of Museum Nocturnes in Brussels, was quite an unusual experience.
Antoine Wiertz started with a success as a winner of Prix du Rome in 1832 and then things went wrong. Charles Baudelaire described him as ‘…that infamous poseur, […] a charlatan, idiot, thief […] who does not know how to draw and whose stupidity is as massive as his giants’. (source)
But, here comes the genius part. The artist invented specific business model, to put it in modern terms.
He realized his dream to turn his studio into a museum with significant help from Belgian authorities. The State bought a piece of land and funded the construction of a huge hall to accommodate the painter’s monumental works.
This way, on top of free accommodation, he was not forced to not sell his work and made himself immune to any contemporary art criticism.
In exchange, Wiertz donated all his works to the Belgian State, under condition that he remains in his studio, both during and after his lifetime. However his stay in the museum after his lifetime is only metaphorical. His remains were embalmed and buried in a vault in the municipal cemetery of Ixelles.
Thanks to the farsighted artist, 170 years later, open-minded society like us, may appreciate his great horror and death obsessed creations.
From a practical point of view, you may be happy to know that entry to the museum is always free.