CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

Court painter in Europe: Hans von Aachen (1552 – 1615)

Exhibition: 1 July - 3 October 2010

Information from, 16 June 2010

The exhibition will not only reveal extraordinary works of art, but also an extraordinary man. Hans von Aachen traveled throughout Europe, as a student, as a master painter, as an art dealer and as a diplomat. His life’s story is not only that of a gifted artist, but also of a true European.

The art of Hans von Aachen displays a unique mix of different stylistic traits of European painting at the time of the late Renaissance: Italian extravagance meets Flemish realism. From large, dramatic altarpieces painted on linen and humoristic representations of everday life, through elegant portraits, to small, refined scenes on copper or alabaster, Hans von Aachen knew how to paint a broad range of themes using as many different techniques.

His exceptional talent made him a great success at the court of the Medici in Florence, at that of the Bavarian Dukes in Munich and finally at the Prague court of Rudolf the Second – the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. An exemplary career. Without a doubt, Hans von Aachen was something special. But despite the fame he experienced during his lifetime he was forgotten…Why?

Three years after the death of the court artist, the art and culture of the Renaissance in Central Europe was lost amidst the troubles and violence of the Thirty Years´ War – and with it the artistic inheritance of Hans von Aachen. For a long time, art history was not able to bring this sunken treasure back to the surface. In part, this was because art history was mainly focused at the national level, and Hans von Aachen’s art and life never kept to borders.

Three museums, one exhibition

Now, three European museums and a team of international scientists have come together to give this great master of European painting back the standing he once had: that of a giant in the art world.

This first monographic exhibition on Hans von Aachen will be shown in three cities, with small variations at each venue: in Aachen, where his family hailed from; in Prague, where he reached the height of his fame; and in Vienna, where the most important collection of his paintings is now kept. Project partners are the Suermondt-Ludwig-Museum in Aachen, the Castle Gallery in Prague and the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.

Together, these three museums will show 112 of Hans von Aachen’s works: 46 paintings, 44 drawings and 22 engravings. Lenders to the exhibition include world famous museums, like the Musée du Louvre in Paris, the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg and the British Museum in London. Art dealers and private collectors have also consented to lend their works of art. The loans will come from 13 European countries and the United States.

A team of art historians from Europe and the U.S. has been working on the exhibition since the spring of 2007. In particular, they studied the artist’s work as an example of cultural transfer in Europe in the Early Modern Age. A richly illustrated exhibition catalogue is published in English, German and Czech.

This international project is supported by the European Union and has the German Federal president Horst Köhler, the Czech president Václav Klaus and the Austrian Federal president Heinz Fischer as its patrons.

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