The reopening of the Main River wing with the new presentation of the Städels
Old Masters (13001800) collection on December 15, 2011 marks the conclusion of the comprehensive refurbishment measures in the old museum building. Developed by Prof. Dr. Jochen Sander, chief curator of the Old Masters collection and Deputy Director of the Städel, the new presentation benefits essentially from the recovery of the historical main axis of the Main River wing, which, starting from the central Rotunda, connects the large skylight galleries and their related cabinets. While the eastern part of the building is reserved for German, Dutch, and Flemish painting with masterpieces by Dürer, Grünewald, Holbein, and Elsheimer, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Brueghel, and Rubens, the rooms following the cupola hall in the west mainly accommodate works by artists from Romance countries schools, splendidly represented by Mantegna and Botticelli, Tiepolo and Batoni, Poussin and Chardin. The Rotunda itself houses a small, yet qualitatively outstanding group of early Netherlandish paintings a tribute to the crucial role played by masters like Jan van Eyck, the Master of Flémalle, or Rogier van der Weyden in the development of European painting north and south of the Alps.
Besides familiar and world-renowned masterpieces of the Städel, the restructured presentation of the collection also boasts numerous new acquisitions, which, as important additions, fill gaps in the Städel Museums collection of old masters. One of the highlights is certainly the purchased portrait of Pope Julius II by Raphael and his workshop. A portrait of Martin Luther by Lucas Cranach the Younger could be secured for the museum through the works acquisition by the Städelsche Museums-Verein. Guercinos Virgin with Child, dating from about 1621/22, was added to the collection as a donation by Barbara and her husband Eduard Beaucamp.
Extending the Städels collection in all areas is one of our main concerns, says Max Hollein, Director of the Städel Museum. In parallel with the development of the various collections we have also made the structural alterations necessary to not only preserve the substance of the building, but to adapt it to the requirements of a museum run along modern lines.
We are very pleased to be able to present our important collection of old masters, which forms the Städels foundation, in its traditional place again after it has enthralled thousands of visitors at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao and in Tokyo and Aichi during the refurbishment measures, emphasizes Prof. Dr. Nikolaus Schweickart, chair of the Städel Museums administrative board.