Old and new masters united in the Alte Pinakothek

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Old and new masters united in the Alte Pinakothek
Installation view. © Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen. Photo: Haydar Koyupinar.

MUNICH.- Good news for all those missing the Neue Pinakothek: from July 25, the most important works of the nineteenth century are on display in the Alte Pinakothek. Titled “From Goya to Manet. The Nineteenth Century”, the presentation shows around 90 paintings and sculptures that outline the broad spectrum from the late eighteenth to the beginning of the twentieth century. The limited rooms in the east wing of the ground floor, where the large altars by artists including Michael Pacher were recently on display, only focus on a few topics and situations from this century so rich in upheavals, yet at the same time enable new configurations and unexpected encounters.

For example, portraits from the classical period come into contact with those from the dawn of modernism in the large central hall. Goya’s keenly observed portraits and the naturalistic staging of the English upper class in portraits by Thomas Gainsborough and Thomas Lawrence are confronted by Edouard Manet’s coolly detached realism and Edgar Degas’ portrayal of ordinary people. Antonio Canova’s monumental classicism communicates with George Minne’s dreamy symbolism in the adjoining cabinet, while in the adjacent room works by artists such as van Gogh, Klimt, and Segantini mark a radical departure from traditional ways of seeing.

In the gallery of German Romantics the retrospective painting of the Nazarenes in Rome appears alongside the introspection of Caspar David Friedrich in Dresden and the realism, rendered with painterly bravura, of Carl Blechen in Berlin. Eugène Delacroix’s literary romanticism meets William Turner’s and John Constable’s empirical exploration of nature in the cabinet of French and English romantics and early realists. Wilhelm Leibl and his circle follow in the footsteps of Gustave Courbet and the Barbizon school, while Max Liebermann, Lovis Corinth, and Max Slevogt represent the dawning spirit of modernism in Berlin around 1900.

The second location for this new presentation of the nineteenth century is the Sammlung Schack. A total of 35 paintings from the Neue Pinakothek are now being shown on the premises at Prinzregentenstraße. They enrich the existing emphasis of the collection on the painting of the romantics and the Deutschrömer (“German Romans”, a group of German artists living and working in Rome in the nineteenth century). Among the most significant works now on display in the Sammlung Schack are Franz Ludwig Catel’s “Crown Prince Ludwig in the Spanish Wine Tavern in Rome”, Joseph Stieler’s portrait of Goethe, Moritz von Schwind’s “A Symphony”, Arnold Böcklin’s “Pan among the Reeds”, Anselm Feuerbach’s “Medea”, and, last but not least, Carl Spitzweg’s “The Poor Poet”.

The Neue Pinakothek is based on the collection of Ludwig I, who was enthusiastic about travelling to Italy and a passionate Philhellene. His interest in the cultures of the Mediterranean, Italy and Greece, connects him to the collector Count Schack. The romantic yearning for the south is a defining theme of both collections. The closure of the Neue Pinakothek has made it possible to unite major works from the collection of Ludwig I with the paintings of the Sammlung Schack, and thus to present the theme of German enthusiasm for Italy and Greece in a new, uniquely rich selection of works.

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