Frans S. Baudouin (1920-2005)
Museum director and scholar, Frans Baudouin was born in Mechelen, Belgium on January 31, 1920. He studied history and art history at the University of Leuven before serving with the Belgian Army. In September 1946 he began working with the MFAA in Germany and Austria as a Foreign Liaison Officer for Belgium. As an official emissary between the Belgian Government and the Office of Military Government, U.S. Zone (OMGUS), he made regular trips between Munich, Germany and Brussels, Belgium to report on the restitution of works of art looted from Belgium. In addition to travelling to the various collecting points, salt mines, and repositories to identify works of art, he conducted interrogations of suspected looters. Baudouin remained a tireless participant in the return of Belgian-owned works of art through 1948.
Following his service with the MFAA, Baudouin became a scientific assistant in the Department of Paintings at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. In 1950 he returned to Belgium, where he was appointed Deputy Keeper of the Rubenshuis (Rubens House) in Antwerp. Founded in 1946, the museum was the former home and studio of the acclaimed Baroque artist Peter Paul Rubens. The adjacent studio witnessed the creation of some of Rubens’s most noted works of art by the master and his students. During his tenure as Director, Baudouin furnished the museum with works by Rubens and his contemporaries, growing the once-overlooked collection into one of the most popular destinations in Antwerp. He was also the driving force behind the founding of the Rubenianum, a research center devoted to the study of Flemish art which includes an extensive library devoted to Rubens.
In 1952 Baudouin was selected to direct two more Antwerp museums, the Museum Smidt van Gelder and the Museum Mayer van den Bergh. He organized numerous world-class exhibitions, including P. P. Rubens: Paintings, Oil Sketches, Drawings (1977), a celebration of the 400th anniversary of Rubens’s birth. In addition to his duties as a museum administrator, Baudouin was a lecturer at the Katholieke Vlaamse Hogeschoolopleiding, a school for aspiring art professionals. From 1968 to 1970, he served as Chairman of the Belgian Committee of the International Council of Museums (ICOM). Baudouin was awarded the Joost-van-den-Vondel Prize of the University of Münster and received an honorary Ph.D. from the University of Antwerp.
Frans Baudouin died in Antwerp, Belgium on January 1, 2005.