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Fantasy and Passion
Drawing from Carracci to Bernini

10 Oct 2024–12 Jan 2025

For the great masters of the Italian Baroque period, drawing was a central component of their art. In their drawings, the brothers Agostino and Annibale Carracci, Guercino, Stefano della Bella and Gian Lorenzo Bernini laid out the foundations not only for their paintings, sculptures and prints, but also demonstrated the independence of the medium.

About the Exhibition

The works on paper carried out in pen-and-ink, brush, black chalk or red chalk pencil were sketches, studies or precisely executed individual works, which impress us with their sweeping lines, dramatic play of light and shadow and tremendous expressive power. The Städel Museum will show 90 of these remarkable Italian Baroque drawings in this exhibition—all from our own collection.

The drawings were created in a period of contrasts marked by a search for a new formal language. The artists studied individual motifs and figural groups, poses, draperies and sequences of movement, developed complex pictorial narratives and landscape compositions or defined their designs. The emotional range of their subjects varies from tender sensations to ecstatically moving, expressive and cruel. The fascination with the drawings lies in the diversity of their functions and the breadth of their artistic and stylistic spectrum. The works presented in the exhibition impressively reflect the artists’ work and thought processes. They introduce us to their individual worlds of imagination while simultaneously referring to the exchange with patrons and collectors. The exhibition invites us to take part in an intimate encounter with the personal artistic styles of a past era.

Dr Astrid Reuter (Head of Prints and Drawings before 1800, Städel Museum)

Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Männliches Porträt im Dreiviertelprofil nach rechts, ca. 1635

Gian Lorenzo Bernini
Männliches Porträt im Dreiviertelprofil nach rechts, ca. 1635

Guercino (Giovanni Francesco Barbieri);   ?, Christ in Emmaus, ca. 1619

Guercino (Giovanni Francesco Barbieri); ?
Christ in Emmaus, ca. 1619

Stefano della Bella (1610–1664)
Deer hunting, ca. 1635

About the Project

A large number of Italian Baroque drawings at the Städel Museums can be traced back to the drawing collection of the founding benefactor Johann Friedrich Städel (1728–1816), which was later enhanced through further gifts and specific acquisitions. As part of a research project funded by the Stiftung Gabriele Busch-Hauck, a selection was made from the holdings that now comprise more than 700 works on paper, and these were subjected to scholarly analysis for the first time. During this process, previous attributions were re-examined. Numerous new findings could be established on individual artists and their working methods, on the subjects presented and techniques used, and about contemporary and later collectors. These findings are published in the selected works collection catalogue by Stefania Girometti, with additional contributions by Sonja Brink and Carel van Tuyll van Serooskerken.


Made possible by
Stiftung Gabriele Busch-Hauck