ART UP TO 1918
The collection is comprised of altars, paintings and sculptures with emphases on art in the Middle Ages and the Baroque era in Upper Austria. It is supplemented by select French, Italian and Dutch works. Particularly well-represented is the Wiener Malerei [Viennese Painting] of the Biedermeier, Atmospheric Realism and Art Nouveau periods.
The Oberösterreichisches Landesmuseum owes its wealth of art collections to a series of benefactors, beginning with the St. Florian monastery, which lay the foundation for the Gothic collection in 1835. It was internationalised in 1898 through the endowment of the Diplomat Emanuel Count Ludolf. The Pierer collection with 19th century paintings was purchased in 1970. The largest donation to date has been the Walther Kastner collection, which was bequeathed in 1975 and later expanded several times over.
The collection currently encompasses around 2,500 paintings and 1,000 sculptures. Over 1,100 additional objects come from the Kastner donation.
The art of the Middle Ages has been a focus of interest since the museum was founded. The two Roman Madonnas, the Ried and the Linz crucifixions, the Eggelsberger altar, unclothed Christ, prayer panels by the Master of Mondsee and the Johannesschüssel [John the Baptist dish] by the Kefermarkter meister [Kefermarkt Master] are among the most fascinating works of this era. The “Works of Mercy” with scenes of day-to-day life in the Middle Ages, the “palm donkey” (Christ’s entry into Jerusalem), the large Last Judgment and the “Fallen Woman” (Rapture of the Blessed Mary Magdalene) bear witness to Middle Age piety. The era comes to an end in the expressiveness of the Danube School, for example in the cycle of the passion of Master H and in the Bierbaumer crucifix.
The small, select collection of Italian art contains a Madonna relief from the della Robbia workshop, a Madonna tondo from Raphael’s milieu, a portrait of a lady by Pietro della Vecchia and a Corregio fresco fragment from Parma. Worth highlighting among the Dutch works are Jan van Hemessen’s Christ Carrying the Cross, Lucas van Valckenborch’s “Gelage im Freien” [outdoor feast] and his (only recently acquired) view of Linz, as well as the landscapes by Jan Brueghel, Paul Bril, Joseph von Bredael and Josse de Momper. Wilhelm Ziegler’s “Rothenburger Patrizierfest” and Bartel Bruyn’s and Christoph Amberger’s images represent the German School. One special highlight is the series of ceiling paintings from Schloss Würting with allegories of the major European countries attributed to Claude Aubertin.
Among the Old Masters the landscapes by Nicolaes Berchem, Jan van Goyen, Jacob van Ruisdael and Klaes Molenaer, the seascapes by Bonaventura Peeters and Jan de Heem’s still life particularly stand out. Two Joachim von Sandrart allegories, two battle scenes by Jacques Courtois, two large-format pastoral scenes by Rosa da Tivoli as well as the image series of military commanders is the Thirty Years War and Habsburg Monarchs are additional focuses. The baroque hall shows the development of Upper Austrian sculpture from Hans Spindler to Martin and Michael Zürn to Marian Rittinger, Meinrad Guggenbichler and members of the Schwanthaler family. Highlights are Spindler’s and the Zürn brothers’ large figures as well as works by Thomas and Johann Peter Schwanthaler. They are supplemented by the altar paintings of Gerard de Lairesse, Martino and Bartolomeo Altomonte and Martin Johann Schmidt.
With Pierre Paul Prud’hon’s “L’union de l’Amour et de l’Amitié” and Friedrich Heinrich Füger’s “Dido auf dem Scheiterhaufen” the collection contains two major works of Parisian/Viennese Baroque Classicism. One image by Peter Fendi shows Antonio Canova’s renowned Three Graces. Füger’s favourite student, the Upper Austrian Josef Abel, is represented with portraits, ancient scenes and history paintings, such as the Battle of Teutoburg Forest. The landscapes by Joseph Rebell and Károly Markó are virtually classical.
The museum offers an excellent overview of the Wiener Biedermeier, whereby in particular Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller, Johann Baptist Reiter and Johann Baptist Wengler are represented with paintings from all of the creative periods. In addition to the genre painting “Aufgehobenen Zinspfändung”, there are also portraits by Josef Danaher, such as the one of Franz Stelzhamer. Carl Schindler’s “Deserter” shows the dark side of the army, while the genre paintings by Waldmüller, Franz Eybl, Eduard Ritter, Johann Michael Neder and Johann Baptist Reiter reveal the social commitment above all. Franz Schrotzberg, Moritz Michael Daffinger and Emanuel Peter painted the beauties of their era, while Reiter’s “The Emancipated One” is representative of “revolutionary” Biedermeier.
The Biedermeier painters discovered the landscape of the Salzkammergut, where Franz Steinfeld, Friedrich Gauermann and Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller found their favourite motifs. Ignaz Raffalt and Friedrich Loos created atmospheric Danube landscapes. Thomas Ender’s “Grossglockner mit Pasterze” [Grossglockner mountain with Pasterze glacier] is considered a milestone of alpine painting. While Waldmüller broke new ground in his late work, Hermann Mevius, Robert Kummer, Otto von Kameke and Albert Bierstadt paid homage to noble ideals in their monumental large format paintings. Emil Jakob Schindler, Eugen Jettel, Theodor von Hörmann, Carl Moll, Josef Ribarz, Robert Russ, Olga Wisinger-Florian, Tina Blau and Marie Egner, however, represented a heavily atmospheric element of plein air painting related to Impressionism.
Several major works by Hans Makart are highlights of the epoch, including the large format “Ernte” (“Harvest”) from Palais Helfert in Vienna and the brilliant “Japanerin” (“Japanese Girl”). The artist is also present with Viktor Tilgner’s bust. In addition, there are important works by Carl Rahl, Hans Canon (“Beautiful Fish Seller”), Teutwart Schmitson (“Towing Horse”), Anton Romako (Nymphs, “Semele and Endymion”) and Leopold Carl Müller (“Camel Market in Cairo”. The French Salon painting is represented by Auguste Galimard (“Leda”) and Émile Lévy (“Die Erziehung Amors”), the Munich School by Hermann Kaulbach’s renowned Bruckner portrait. Maximilian Kurzweil’s “Dame in Violett” represents the elegance of Viennese Art Nouveau, whereby the works by Richard Gerstl, Egon Schiele and Anton Faistauer mark the development towards Modernity.
The Art History department is dedicated to all aspects of the collection and is also considered a focal point for regional history research, with an academic focus as well. Numerous papers are thus involved with Gothic, Baroque and Biedermeier artists. In 1990 a double exhibition was held in Linz and Schloss Grafenegg dedicated to the creations of Johann Baptist Reiter, for which a new catalogue raisonné of the artist was compiled.
In the wake of the national exhibition on the Mühlviertel an international symposium was held regarding the Kefermarkt Altar. The post-conference publication in 1993 was the first in the study series on Upper Austrian cultural history. From 1995 the Pierer and Kastner collections have been systematically revised in catalogues, most recently in 2010 on the occasion of the exhibition of the Kastner endowment graphics.
Up to now the most extensive project was that of the Gothic period in Upper Austrian in the year 2002 (11 exhibitions and to date 5 publications). The “Sehnsucht Natur. Landschaften Europas” [Longing for Nature. Europe’s Landscapes] exhibition was on display on the occasion of the European Capital of Culture year 2009 in Vilnius and in Linz and in 2010 in Gross St. Florian. The “Johann Baptist Reiter” exhibition was held in 2013 in cooperation with the NORDICO Stadtmuseum Linz.
The collection was most recently an important participant in 2015 at the “Mythos Schönheit” [Myth of Beauty] exhibition, as it will also be at the 50th year anniversary of the Schlossmuseum Linz in 2016. The Gothic ivory reliefs were documented in the framework of the Courtauld Institute of Art’s Gothic Ivories Projects. The ongoing Baroque project, which has been accompanied by the publication of a lavish double volume, is being pursued in cooperation with the Oberhausmuseum and the University of Passau.
In the next few years the museum’s Middle Ages holdings will be scientifically reanalysed and published. In the longer term a multi-volume and richly illustrated publication on Upper Austrian art is envisaged.