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Städel’s Legacy
Master Drawings from the Founder’s Collection

13 May 2020–16 Aug 2020

About the Exhibition

The Frankfurt-based merchant and banker Johann Friedrich Städel (1728–1816) bequeathed a large art collection to the Städel Museum, which, in addition to paintings and prints, also included over 4,600 drawings. For a long time, it was not possible to trace which drawings of today’s museum holdings originally came from his collection. At the time of the donation, no complete index was compiled; and, in the course of an inventory-taking in the 1860s, a large number of drawings were sorted out and sold. The Städel Museum had succeeded for the first time in largely reconstructing the founder’s collection of drawings and in identifying roughly 3,000 works that are still in the collection today.

The Städel Museum presented a selection of ninety-five master drawings which gave an exemplary impression of the character, order and artistic significance of the former drawing collection of Johann Friedrich Städel. Outstanding works by Raphael, Correggio and Primaticcio, Watteau, Boucher and Fragonard, Dürer, Roos and Reinhart, as well as Goltzius, Rembrandt and De Wit, were presentedfollowing the tradition of the founder’s collectionaccording to ‘European schools’ and discussed in detail in an accompanying catalogue. A portion of these drawings were already known among scholars, while others were published for the first time. The reconstruction of the former drawing collection of Johann Friedrich Städel provided insights into the collection activities and concepts of the founder, as well as into the collecting of drawings in the eighteenth century in general.

Curator: Dr. Joachim Jacoby


With support from
Stiftung Gabriele Busch-Hauck, Wolfgang Ratjen Stiftung, Tavolozza Foundation, Georg und Franziska Speyer’sche Hochschulstiftung