Thursday, 21 February 2013

Alte Pinakothek in Munich – Part 2

This is the second article on my visit last year to the Alte Pinakothek in Munich (see Alte Pinakothek in Munich – Part 1).

I will start with my favourite painting in the whole museum: a self-portrait by Rembrandt.

Rembrandt (Harmensz. van Rijn)

Self-Portrait (1629) by Rembrandt (Harmensz. van Rijn) (1606-1669) Oil on oak (15,6 x 12,7 cm)

Why is this portrait my favourite painting in the museum? I saw in books some reproductions of this work, but they don’t do justice to the original. This self-portrait of Rembrandt at the age of 23 is really small (15,6 cm x 12,7 cm). The size was a surprise. The painting technique as well as the way the artist depicted himself are remarkable. The half-profile looks relaxed, with the mouth half open and the dark eyes. The light is soft and the eyes hide in the shadow. The feeling is different to the many later self-portraits.

In term of technique, Rembrandt used glazing, impasto for the collar and sgrafitto for the curled hair. The treatment has the delicacy of soft pastel.

Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640)

I am not a big fan of Rubens’ monumental canvasses: too many figures, to much rounded figures, to much muscle. Everything is exagerated. Compositions are elaborate, but also very busy.

Lion Hunt (Ca. 1621) by Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640)

Oil sketch for the Lion Hunt by Peter Paul Rubens. Oak, 44 x 50 cm

I much prefer the oil sketch to the finished painting. Not only this sketch informs us on the artist's creative process, but it is more spontaneous that the huge canvas painted from it. And not everything is said: for me, the focus on a few elements makes this sketch more effective than the finished work.

Hippopotamus and Crocodile Hunt by Rubens

François Boucher (1703-1770)

François Boucher was French painter, draughtsman and engraver born in Paris in 1703. In 1765, he became the director of the Royal Academy in Paris, and "peintre du Roi" (the king’s official painter). He died in Paris in 1770.

Portrait of the Marquise de Pompadour (1756) Canvas, 201 x 157 cm - On permanent loan from the HypoVereinsbank, Member of UniCredit.

Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson (Marquise de Pompadour) became the mistress of Louis XV and reached an elevated position at court. On February 7, 1756 she became the queen's lady-in-waiting (dame du palais). This painting by Boucher was made for thie occasion.

Francisco de Zurbarán y Salazar (1598-1664)

Zurbarán was a Spanish painter, born in 1598 in Fuente de Cantos, Estremadura. He painted mainly religious subjects for monasteries in Seville and in Guadelupe. He also worked for the king Philip IV of Spain. He died in Madrid in 1664.

Saint Francis by Francisco Zurbaran

Bartolomé Estéban Murillo (1618-1682)

I remember the painting “Beggar Boys Eating Grapes and Melon” from my school’s Spanish lessons. A reproduction of this painting featured as an illustration to a poem.

Beggar Boys Eating Grapes and Melon (Ca. 1650) by Bartolomé Estéban Murillo (1618-1682) - Canvas, 145,9 x 103,6 cm - Probably acquired in 1698 by Duke Max Emanuel

What I did not realised is that Murillo painted a series of these scenes. Murillo's other Munich genre paintings were executed thirty years after "Beggar Boys Eating Grapes and Melon".

Beggar Boys Playing Dice (Ca. 1675) by Bartolomé Estéban Murillo (1618-1682) - Canvas, 146 x 108,5 cm - Acquired in 1698 by Duke Max Emanuel

Children eating a pie by Bartolomé Estéban Murillo (1618-1682)


Young Spanish Gentleman by Diego Rodriguez de Silva y Velázquez - Canvas, 89,2 x 69,5 cm. Acquired in 1694 for the Düsseldorf Gallery

Young Spanish Gentleman by Diego Rodriguez de Silva y Velázquez (detail)

It's not clear to me whether the artist couldnot finish the painting or decided not to detail the hand so that the viewer would concentrate on the face.

Claude Lorrain (Claude Gellée) (1600-1682)

Claude Gellée, known as Claude Lorrain, was a French landscape painter and engraver, born in 1600 in Chamagne in Lorraine (hence his artist name “Lorrain”).

A seaport at sunrise by Claude Lorrain (Claude Gellée) (1600-1682)

Ferdinand Bol

Portrait of a gentleman by Ferdinand Bol

When I first saw this painting, I thought it was a Rembrandt… but I was wrong

The museum

Alte Pinakothek
Barer Straße 27
Eingang Theresienstraße
80333 München

Web site

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