Established as a civic foundation in 1815 by the banker and businessman Johann Friedrich Städel, the Städel Museum ranks as Germany’s oldest museum foundation. Under a single roof, its collection offers a virtually complete survey of seven hundred years of European art from the early fourteenth century to the present, with focuses on the Renaissance, the Baroque, early Modern art and much more. The holdings encompass altogether 3,100 paintings, 660 sculptures, more than 4,600 photographs and more than 100,000 drawings and prints. Works by such artists as Lucas Cranach, Albrecht Dürer, Sandro Botticelli, Rembrandt van Rijn, Jan Vermeer, Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Max Beckmann, Alberto Giacometti, Francis Bacon, Gerhard Richter, Wolfgang Tillmans and Isa Genzken form the highlights.
In addition to collection and preservation, we devote our efforts to the scholarly investigation of our holdings and the development of internationally acclaimed exhibitions from within the context of the collection. A further key concern is target-group-specific museum education revolving around themes of relevance for the collection and related to art in general. The large number of education and communication measures we offer in contemporary formats ensures the fulfilment of the Städel foundation’s purpose within and outside the museum.
Not only the outstanding quality of the collection, but also our high level of activity in the areas of research, exhibitions and education guarantee the Städel’s prominent position in the international museum landscape. As the most important civic culture foundation in Germany, the Städel moreover stands for the broad-scale involvement of the public, a factor of fundamental significance for the preservation and development of this cultural institution. The Städel is celebrating its 200th anniversary in 2015, and in that context is expanding the museum experience into the digital realm.
In 1815, the businessman and banker Johann Friedrich Städel of Frankfurt set forth in his will that his
“sizeable collection of paintings, engravings and art objects, along with as much of [his] fortune as remains at the time, [be dedicated] to the foundation of a special, autonomous art institute bearing [his] name to provide the best for this town and its citizens.”
Who was the prominent and visionary founder who laid the cornerstone for the Städelsches Kunstinstitut and the Städelschule? Johann Friedrich Städel was born in Frankfurt am Main in 1728. He followed in the footsteps of his father Johann Daniel Städel, who had come to Frankfurt from Strasbourg to engage in trade. Johann Friedrich initially carried on the elder Städel’s spice business on Grosser Kornmarkt square in Frankfurt. After his father’s death in 1784, at the age of 56, he opened his own commercial establishment on the city’s Rossmarkt square. He traded in spices and coffee, dyes such as indigo, and metals such as lead rods. The spice business thus rapidly developed into a “money business”. Johann Friedrich Städel made a name for himself with commission and banking transactions and the sale of spices.
Städel’s great interest in art and extensive travels put him in contact with a wide variety of cultural influences and notable figures and prepared the ground for his extensive art collecting activities. He had already begun amassing paintings, drawings, prints and small sculptures in his home as early as the 1760s. His painting collection encompassed some five hundred primarily German and Dutch Baroque works, of which he had an inventory drawn up in French. In the area of printmaking, on the other hand, his ambition was evidently to create a complete survey of the history of art. Already early on, Städel hatched plans to make his art holdings accessible to the public, as well as to train and support budding artists. By previous arrangement, he himself took visitors on guided tours of his collection. He also organised art shows to which other collectors and interested persons were invited. Johann Friedrich Städel died in Frankfurt am Main in 1816. Part of his will, the last version of which he wrote on 15 March 1815, is a letter of foundation – the cornerstone of the Städelsches Kunstinstitut, which developed from the first public art collection for the citizens of Frankfurt to a museum of international renown.
Dr. Philipp Demandt
Prof. Dr. Jochen Sander, Vice Director for Scholarly Affairs
Heinz-Jürgen Bokler, Vice Director for Commercial and Personnel Affairs
The Städelsches Kunstinstitut is one of the earliest and most important cultural foundations. It was founded in 1815 as a civic foundation. In keeping with the wishes of the founder Johann Friedrich Städel, it is overseen by five administrators. The administration is the foundation’s representative body and appoints the director.
Prof. Dr. h.c. mult. Nikolaus Schweickart, Chairman
Dr. Kersten von Schenck