Antoon van Dyck painted this dynamic altarpiece overflowing with drama and emotion in 1631 during his time in Antwerp, when he was making lots of works for churches and monasteries in the Southern Netherlands. A lot is known about how the painting came about, because plenty of correspondence has been preserved. The commission, for instance, came from canon Rogier Braye. Though Van Dyck obviously looked to Master Rubens, he also resolutely did his own thing and evidently drew inspiration from Italy. The work was briefly stolen in 1907 but quickly recovered.
Originally a medieval building, this church is located in Kortrijk’s inner city centre and used to be part of a fortified castle located on the domain of the Counts of Flanders. The magnificent Count’s chapel with murals depicting the Counts of Flanders and a famous gothic alabaster statue of Saint Catherine (a recognised Flemish top piece) was built onto the church in 1370 by Louis II of Flanders. He had it erected as a mausoleum for himself, although he would eventually be buried in Lille.