Information from the museum, 9 November 2015
Keen art lovers since the 16th century, the Princely Family of Liechtenstein recently presented the best of their collections in Japan (Tokyo, Kochi, Kyoto), Singapore, China (Beijing, Shanghai), Taiwan (Taipei), and Moscow. In the autumn of 2015, the Caumont Centre d’Art will welcome the masterpieces of this collection as part of a remarkable exhibition.
The Princely Collections is currently one of the most important and extensive private collections of art. It is also one of the most vibrant: the reigning prince, Hans-Adam II von und zu Liechtenstein, implements a policy of regular acquisitions. The selection of artworks presented at the Caumont Centre d’Art provides an insight into the tastes of the Liechtenstein family, with some forty or so paintings and watercolours on display, ranging from the 16th to the 19th century.
The exhibition is prefaced by a presentation of the Princely family, introducing the founders of the collection to the main collectors of the present day. The exhibition also showcases numerous works by the Grand Masters from the Collections of the Prince of Liechtenstein, arranged in a themed and chronological layout.
The exhibition is structured as follows:
– The Princes of Liechtenstein
– The grand gallery of the 16th century
– An eclectic taste
– The Princes’ cabinet of curiosities
– The Golden Age of Dutch and Flemish Painting
– Landscapes and still lifes
– The Princely residences
– Princes and Princesses, Karoline, Franz-Josef, Marie Franziska
Included artists: Cranach, Raphaël, Rubens, Van Dyck, Rembrandt, Hubert Robert and Vigée-Lebrun.
Exhibition curator: Johann Kräftner
Following his studies in architecture, art history and curating, Johann Kräftner was a writer and photographer for art magazine, Parnass. In 1998, he was named Head of the Artistic Design Department of the Vienna University of Technology. Since 2004, he has been the director of the Princely Collections, in both Vienna and Vaduz.
Research advisor at the Caumont Centre d’Art: Denis Coutagne
Writer, art historian and philosopher by profession, Denis Coutagne is honorary head curator of heritage. He is also the president of the Société Paul Cezanne.
Additional Information from The Princely Collections
The exhibition at the Caumont Centre d’Art begins with treasures from the early Renaissance, a period in which the late medieval artistic forms of expression underwent a change, as demonstrated here by examples of major importance. The wonderful Venus (1531) of Lukas Cranach the Elder and his St Christopher already have a very natural physical presence, foreshadowing future developments in painting. The painters of that time increasingly turned their attention to the portrayal of human beings, putting the individual in the foreground, as attested by the Portrait of a Man (c. 1502–1504) by Raphael or the Tax Collectors by Quentin Massys. It is particularly in the genre of Renaissance portraiture that the Princely Collections possess superb recently acquired works, some of which have never been shown in public before, including examples by Jan Gossaert, Alonso Sanchez Coello, Rosso Fiorentino and Antonis Mor. The art of the sixteenth century concludes in this section with a Mannerist painting by Cornelis Cornelisz. van Haarlem (St Sebastian, 1591).
Peter Paul Rubens was one of the foremost painters of his time. The exhibition contains a number of his works including the masterly painting Mars and Rhea Silvia (c. 1616/17), which has been in the collections since 1710 and can be admired side by side with the oil sketch on which it is based, a work acquired in 1977. In addition, the unique Portrait of Clara Serena Rubens (1611–1623) (1616) gives a wholly personal insight into the way this great master of the Flemish Baroque worked.
During the seventeenth century, genres that had hitherto been disregarded were accorded new value or even became established for the first time, including landscape painting as a genre in its own right, genre scenes from daily life and the still life. The Princely Collections also possess treasures from these fields: an early work by Rembrandt, Cupid with the Soap Bubble, and still lifes in the best tradition of Flemish painting, displayed alongside some of the finest portraiture of the time by Frans Hals and Anthony van Dyck.
The penultimate section of the exhibition is devoted to the eighteenth and early nineteenth century. Giovanni Paolo Pannini (Capriccio with the Principal Monuments and Sculptures of Ancient Rome, 1735) and Hubert Robert (Capriccio with the Pantheon and the Porto di Ripetta, 1761) created monumental landscapes and urban vedutas into which they integrated historic edifices from classical times. By contrast, Joseph Vernet preferred to place his Bathers in a more exotic setting observed faithfully from nature.
The exhibition concludes with an evocation of the aristocratic milieu in Vienna during the eighteenth and nineteenth century, with insights into the world of Neoclassicism and Biedermeier. Portraits by the French artist Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun, who was commissioned by Prince Alois I von Liechtenstein to paint a likeness of his wife as Iris, the messenger of the gods, together with a charming depiction of the future emperor Franz Joseph I as a miniature grenadier playing with his toy soldiers stand for the beginning of an epoch that was to be of decisive political and artistic importance.
The exhibition is divided into ten subject areas which among many other aspects also provide the visitor with insights into the history of the family and the collections of one of Europe’s foremost noble dynasties.