Nicolaas II Rockox

Nicolaas Rockox

Nicolaas Rockox by Otto van Veen.jpg
Nicolaas II Rockox,
painted by Otto van Veen.
Mayor of Antwerp
MonarchPhilip II of Spain
Personal details
Born14 December 1560
Died12 December 1640(1640-12-12) (aged 79)
Spouse(s)Adriana Perez (1568–1619)
Heraldic crest

Nicolaas Rockox (1560–1640), was a mayor of Antwerp. He was a close personal friend and important patron of Peter Paul Rubens. His residence in Antwerp is now a museum known as the Rockox House. He was knighted by Archdukes Albert and Isabella, the Governord General of the Southern Netherlands.[1]


Nicolaas Rockox was the oldest son of Adriaan II and Isabella van Olmen. His parents were both scions of prominent families. Rockox was a nephew of John III van de Werve, Lord of Hovorst and a first cousin of Lancelot II of Ursel, mayor of Antwerp. After his father died when Nicolaas was only 10, his mother and other family members took care to ensure that he and his two younger brother received an advanced education. After studying in Antwerp, he studied at the universities of Leuven and Paris. He finished his studies in Douai where he graduated in law on 24 August 1584.[2]

In 1589, in Antwerp Cathedral, he married Adriana Perez (1568–1619), daughter of the rich Spanish merchant Luis Perez (1532–1601) and Maria van Berchem.[3] He died without children in the Rockox House.[4]


Rockox became a member of the civic militia of Antwerp and defended the city in the service of Philips of Marnix, Lord of Saint-Aldegonde when Alexander Farnese, Duke of Parma, attacked Antwerp in 1584. Rockox studied the fortifications from Jean Errard,[5] Bar-le-Duc and had the outer walls of Antwerp repaired and improved.

Rockox is depicted on the right hand panel of Rubens Descent-tryptich

In 1590, he was knighted by the Archdukes Albert and Isabella. He was put on the list of honours when their Joyous Entry took place.

In 1603 Rockox bought the house named Gulden Rinck and developed it into his main residence, now known as the Rockox House. It housed an important collection of art and of curiosities, famous in his own time. His collection included a Samson and Delilah painted for him by his friend Rubens. After 1608 the friendship between them was very close. Rockox commissioned several paintings from him, including The Incredulity of Saint Thomas. Other friends of Rockox include Abraham Ortelius, who taught him the art of numismatics, and the young Anthony van Dyck, who painted several portraits for him.

Rockox served several terms as mayor of Antwerp. He died in the Rockox House and was buried in the church of the Recollect convent, where he had had a private chapel built for his deceased wife in 1619.[6] Because he had no children, his property was given to the poor, in devotion. During his life Rockox spent an important part of his private fortune to benefit the poor. He commanded that a public reserve of grain be prepared for the poor in case of war or siege. He paid 45,300 florins for this from his private fortune. After his death his famous collection of artworks spread to other collections worldwide.


Rockox commissioned multiple paintings from Peter Paul Rubens. Some of these commissions were for the public, while others were for his private residence. Among those he commissioned for the public included Adoration of the Magi for the Antwerp City Hall, Descent from the Cross for the city's Arquebusiers' Guild's altar, and Doubting Thomas for Rockox's chapel. Rockox's private commissions from Rubens included Samson and Delilah. At the time of his death, Rockox had 87 works in his personal collection. Other artists represented within this collection included Anthony van Dyck, Frans Snyders, Jan van Eyck, and Pieter Bruegel. After his death, his art collection was sold publicly.[7]


  1. ^ Van de Velde, Hildegarde en Van Hout, Nico, Het Gulden Cabinet. Koninklijk Museum bij Rockox te gast, uitgave van de vzw Museum Nicolaas Rockox, Antwerpen, 2013 (in Dutch)
  2. ^ "Nicolaas Rockox (1560–1640) - Burgemeester van de Gouden Eeuw" (in Dutch). www.tento.be. 2010-12-14. Retrieved 2019-03-23.
  3. ^ "Liechtenstein. The Princely Collections". Liechtensteincollections.at. Retrieved 2017-06-21.
  4. ^ "Grave of from Adrianus and Nicolaas Rockox at Balat Kik-Irpa". Balat.kikirpa.be. Retrieved 2019-03-21.
  5. ^ La fortification démonstrée et réduicte en art / par feu J. Errard
  6. ^ Biografieën Collectie Onderzoek Beleef meer. "Nicolaas Rockox | Barok in de Zuidelijke Nederlanden". Barokinvlaanderen.vlaamsekunstcollectie.be. Retrieved 2017-06-21.
  7. ^ Veronique van Passel, "Rockox, Nicolaas", Grove Art Online. Oxford University Press. Web. 28 Feb. 2017.

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