Explore the Ommegang

The Ommegang, or ‘walk around’, is one of six paintings that record a huge procession in Brussels in 1615. It was held annually to honour a statue of the Virgin Mary kept in one of the most important churches in Brussels.

The Ommegang of 1615 also paid homage to Archduchess Isabella. She and her husband Albert were rulers of the Southern Netherlands on behalf of her half-brother, the King of Spain. The Tributes paid to Isabella are the main subject of the painting.

To record the 1615 Ommegang, Isabella commissioned the artist Denys van Alsloot to produce six paintings depicting the entire procession, for 10,000 livres. Van Alsloot was born in Brussels and around 1600 had entered the service of the Archduke Albert and Archduchess Isabella who entrusted him with many important commissions. Flemish painters of the 15th-17th centuries were internationally renowned for their painstakingly exact depiction of contemporary scenes and these works are some of the best known depictions of Netherlandish civic spectacles.

The paintings are thought to have been at Isabella’s palace in Tervuren by 1619. Only four of the original six survive, two being in the Prado in Madrid and two in the Victoria and Albert Museum. The last of these was divided in half at an unknown date. The V&A’s paintings were bought at different dates in the 19th century (1859 and 1885).

The Ommegang is one of the most important in the series as it depicts the ten lavish floats which formed the most spectacular element of the procession.

The Ommegang is one of the star objects in the Europe 1600-1815 galleries.

Ommegang
‘Triumph of Archduchess Isabella in the Brussels Ommegang of Sunday, 31st May 1615’, Denys van Alsloot, 1616, Southern Netherlands, now Belgium (Brussels). Museum no. 5928-1859. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
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