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STÄDEL’S LEGACY

Master Drawings
from the Founder’s Collection
5/13/–8/16/2020


With the legacy of his intimate art collection, the Frankfurt businessman and banker Johann Friedrich Städel founded a public art museum of international standing, accessible to all - the Städel Museum. The collector left behind a treasure that included not only paintings and prints but also over 4,600 drawings.

For a long time it was not possible to reconstruct which drawings of today's museum holdings were originally from the collection of Johann Friedrich Städel (1728-1816). At that time, no complete index was compiled and a large number of drawings were sorted out and sold in the course of a reorganization of the collection in the 1860s. Now, after several years of research, the Städel has succeeded, for the first time, in reconstructing the founder's collection of drawings to a large extent and in identifying 3,000 works in a circle that have been preserved in the museum to date.
The Städel is presenting a selection of 95 master drawings that give an exemplary impression of the layout, order and artistic significance of the former drawing collection of Johann Friedrich Städel. Outstanding works by Raphael, Correggio and Primaticcio, Watteau, Boucher and Fragonard, Dürer, Roos and Reinhart, as well as Goltzius, Rembrandt and De Wit, are shown in the founder's collection tradition, arranged according to "European schools" and discussed in detail in a catalogue accompanying the exhibition. Some of these drawings are renowned in the academic world per se, while others are being published for the first time.
The reconstruction of Johann Friedrich Städel's collection of drawings provides insights into the founder's collecting activities and conceptual ideas as well as into the collecting of drawings in the 18th century in general. The trade routes through which the drawings arrived in Frankfurt from the great European art trading centres of Paris, Amsterdam and London become as clear as the art-historical, encyclopaedic class of his collecting. In the same way, the exchange that the art-interested citizens of Frankfurt currently cultivated by the founder himself become partially noticeable. Among other things, the exhibition provides essential insights into how the Städel Museum's collection was handled in the 19th century and how it was decided at that time what was and was not "worthy of a museum".

Source: (website Städel)

> Städel Museum

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