Cult Image

Altarpiece and Devotional Painting from Duccio to Perugino

7 July to 22 October 2006

The Städel exhibition “Cult Image: Altarpiece and Devotional Painting from Duccio to Perugino” traced the development of the Italian altarpiece and – intimately interwoven with it – Italian panel painting between the thirteenth and the late fifteenth century. Many of the works are no longer intact but divided into their individual elements, and most are now in museums. Thus, they were removed from their original functional context and, as a result, have become difficult to understand for the present-day viewer and may strike him as even strange.

This circumstance was aggravated by the fact that the works on view represented a conception of art which has changed radically since Renaissance times. This is why the exhibition “Cult Image” persued the double goal of conveying an idea of the contemporary attitude towards pictures and of acquainting the visitor with the evolving conception of art and its production in the period from Duccio to Perugino. This elucidated how the vivid exchange between altarpiece and devotional painting also contributed to the development of all those genres that we take for granted today: the narrative scene, the portrait, the still life, and the landscape picture.

In addition to the outstanding paintings from the collection of the Städel Museum, the exhibition included a number of loans from important national and international collections, such as the Lindenau-Museum Altenburg, the Gemäldegalerie Berlin, the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Lyon, the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza in Madrid, the Louvre in Paris, and the Museo Nazionale di San Matteo in Pisa.

CURATOR: Prof. Dr. Jochen Sander, Städel Museum