Detailed imaging with the Microdome of the Enclosed Gardens within the framework of documentation, conservation en preservation project of the 16th century retables (2014-2016)
The Municipal Museums of Mechelen (Belgium) take care of a remarkable collection of seven Horti Conclusi (Enclosed gardens) dated from the 16th century. This collection belonged to the former convent of Mechelen’s Hospital Sisters. The Enclosed Gardens are rather unusual and extremely rare pieces of art that were mainly fabricated and conserved in the city of Mechelen. These Masterpieces are unique: few have survived and there is no comparable example of a similar well conserved coherent collection of Enclosed Gardens. It is therefore not a surprise that they are recognised as Flemish Masterpieces by the Flemish Government.
The Enclosed Gardens are testimonials of a high artistic quality and are the result of years of patient religious handycraft and an extraordinary tangible expression of a devotional tradition. Apart from the painted panels with saints and patrons and altarpieces with polychrome figures (well known poupées de Malines), the Enclosed Gardens contain textiles, metals, relics, glass, parchment and paper, wax and pipeclay, fragments of bone etc. For the Hospital Sisters these retables were a way to experience their devotion and spirituality.