Neoclassicism 1770 – 1820
A comprehensive special exhibition presented by Frankfurt’s Städel Museum from 20 February to 26 May 2013 highlighted the art of Neoclassicism and the impulses it provided for Romanticism. Developed in collaboration with the Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung, the show “Beauty and Revolution” assembled about one hundred works of the period from 1770 to 1820 by such artists as Anton Raphael Mengs, Thomas Banks, Antonio Canova, Jacques-Louis David, Bertel Thorvaldsen, Johann Gottfried Schadow, and Jean-August-Dominique Ingres. The major survey, whose range also comprised a number of impressive examples of “Romantic Neoclassicism”, was the first in Germany to convey an idea of the variety of the different and sometimes even contradictory facets of this style.
Based on significant sculptures, paintings, and prints from collections in many countries, the exhibition explored the decisive influence of classical antiquity on the artists of the era. Struggling for a socially relevant art, the artists directed their attention to the aesthetics of Greek and Roman art as well as to the virtues and moral standards conveyed by history and mythology. It became evident how the viewer could be addressed in many different ways. Two famous marble sculptures of the Greek goddess Hebe, for example, were confronted with each other in Frankfurt for the first time: a variant by Antonio Canova (1796, The State Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg) and another by Bertel Thorvaldsen (designed in 1806, Thorvaldsens Museum, Copenhagen). The two masterpieces have again and again been compared and judged, yet never exhibited together since their creation.
CURATORS: Dr. Eva Mongi-Vollmer, Städel Museum; Dr. Maraike Bückling, Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung
SPONSORED BY: Kulturfonds Frankfurt RheinMain as part of the project “Impuls Romantik”, Hessische Kulturstiftung, the City of Frankfurt