In the early part of the nineteenth century, Norbert Bittner (1786-1851) executed 57 views of a journey to Egypt: on show 26 watercolors for the exhibition ''Norbert Bittner's Egypt''. ''Brueghel, Rubens, Jordaens...'' focuses on the masterpieces of European painting from the Hohenbuchau Collection.
Brueghel, Rubens, Jordaens...
MASTERPIECES OF EUROPEAN PAINTING FROM THE HOHENBUCHAU COLLECTION
curated by Johann Kräftner
The main focus of the collection is the painting of the seventeenth century, in particular the Dutch and Flemish Baroque, an era known as the Golden Age. Within these parameters, the collection aims at presenting this epoch and its schools both in terms of the multiplicity of its pictorial genres, ranging from the history painting, portrait, genre scene and landscape to the still life, and of the broad diversity within each individual genre. An interesting feature of the collection is that it is not composed exclusively of cabinet paintings – as is so often the case with so many private collections today – but also has examples of works executed in large-scale and in some cases even monumental formats.
To a large degree, the collection was assembled autonomously. Good paintings have been replaced with better examples, the result of growing expertise acquired from numerous visits to all the world’s major museums and to countless exhibitions which honed the eye of the collector Otto Christian Faßbender, underpinned by the advice of expert restorers and the resources of an extensive library. When a painting was being considered for acquisition, whether from other private collections, on the fine art market or at auction, two criteria were always imperative: the painterly quality of the work and its state of preservation.
While many great names – from Brueghel to Momper, from Rubens to Jordaens, from Ter Brugghen to Honthorst – are represented in the collection, it also contains superb and important works by less well-known artists standing side by side on equal terms with the paintings of the great masters.
Many of the paintings in this collection have already been shown all over the world in museums or temporary exhibitions. Equally, many are familiar to scholarly circles from publication in catalogues raisonnés or other books on art. Since December 2007 the collection has been on loan to the LIECHTENSTEIN MUSEUM on a permanent basis. From 27 May to 20 September 2011 this distinguished collection will be presented to the general public for the first time in its entirety in the form of a temporary exhibition.
Designed by Dr Johann Kräftner, director of the LIECHTENSTEIN MUSEUM, the exhibition will be accompanied by a comprehensive catalogue in German and English by the internationally renowned art historian Dr Peter Sutton, as well as by a varied programme of associated events.
Norbert Bittner's Egypt
IMAGINARY VISIONS OF THE LAND ON THE NILE FROM THE BIEDERMEIER ERA
curated by Johann Kräftner
Norbert Bittner studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna from 1806. Having initially enrolled as a student of landscape painting, he soon transferred to the class for architecture. His exceptional achievements led to the award of a bursary from 1807. Besides making etchings of all the stage designs produced by the theatre designer Joseph Platzer (1751–1806), it seems that he mainly worked for Count Gregor Rasumofsky (1759–1837), who probably commissioned the Egyptian series.
For the latter Bittner drew on the Description de l’Egypte (Paris 1809–1828), the monumental documentation of the French expedition, and works by the Cologne-born artist Franz Christian Gau (1789–1853), Antiquité de la Nubie, ou Monuments inédits des bords du Nil, situés entre la première et la seconde cataracte, published by Cotta between 1820 and 1827, and Jean Raymond Pacho (1794–1829), whose illustrated account of his expedition to the ancient sites of Libya including Syrtis Maior in 1824/1825 appeared under the title Voyage dans la Marmarique, la Cyrénaïque et les Oasis d’Audjelah et de Maradèh in Paris in 1827/29.
The selection made by Bittner from the Description de l’Egypte and the engravings of Gau was intended to show the important edifices and works of art from Cairo and Abu Simbel and represent a fictitious journey from the north to the south of Egypt. In his views, Bittner drew on the topography of the individual sites but sometimes gave his imagination free rein, combining various details. He sought to ‘improve’ the original images aesthetically and in terms of composition by depicting the monuments in a stage-like fashion. This invests his views with an intrinsic artistic value, ensuring their impact on anyone interested in Egyptian art.
In contrast to the monochrome copperplate engravings, the delicate watercolours deepen the emotional experience of the Nile expeditions and the Egyptian landscapes. They also attest to the huge interest in Europe for the rediscovery of Egypt, and the fashion for all things Egyptian that spread across Europe after 1809, thus representing an early contribution to the popularisation of the monuments of ancient Egypt.
Loaned by the Kupferstichkabinett of the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts, the watercolours are complemented by works from the Library of the Princely Collections which provide a historical view of Egypt, and are contrasted with modern photographs of the same sights as they are today.
The exhibition was designed by the director of the LIECHTENSTEIN MUSEUM, Dr Johann Kräftner, in scholarly collaboration with Dr Monika Knofler of the Kupferstichkabinett of the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts and Dr Lisa Schwarzmeier, free-lance art historian. Dr Ernst Czerny provided expert advice on aspects of Egyptology.
Christina Stella Lipovac
Tel. +43 1 319 57 67–142
Fax +43 1 319 57 67–20
Furstengasse, 1 - Wien
Friday to Tuesday 10 am - 5 pm, closed on Wednesday and Thursday
Temporary exhibition Individual ticket: EUR 4.00 (no concessions)
Pupils, children and young people to age 19: free