Giovanni Antonio Canal (gen. Canaletto), Santa Maria della Salute and the Riva degli Schiavoni in Venice, 1736/38
Canvas, 69 x 94 cm
© Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, MunichDetails
Elegance, Drama and NatureAlte Pinakothek
The presentation of 18th-century painting at the Alte Pinakothek consists above all of pictures by French and Venetian artists such as François Boucher, Canaletto, Francesco Guardi and Giovanni Battista Tiepolo whose work was already much in demand throughout Europe during the artists’ lifetime. Paintings by Nicolas Lancret and Jean-Baptiste Pater, meanwhile, testify to the influence of Antoine Watteau.
The extraordinary wealth and diversity of 18th-century European art, however, only becomes clear when we look beyond France and Venice. In the current collection presentation, rarely shown works by German and Dutch artists enter into an intriguing dialogue with paintings from France and Italy.
The presentation focuses on three thematic areas that offer particularly telling insights into the conditions governing artistic production and the evolving discourse and cultural climate of the Age of Enlightenment: portraiture, especially self-portraits; Festivities and Themes of Love; city and landscape views. At the same time, the example of the veduta shows how strongly some of the new pictorial themes have influenced modernism and still guide the view or determine patterns of representation today. At the end of the tour, therefore, there are panorama paintings and photographs of the 19th century with views of Venice and Rome.
The sustained engagement with the idea of humankind’s rational and emotional competence, personal freedoms and the relationship to society, a new awareness of history, the rediscovery of the natural world and exploration of the laws of nature – all these aspects shaped the 18th century and are reflected in the selection of paintings shown here. As part of a collection accumulated over a long period of time, they vividly convey the parallelism of the numerous, sometimes contradictory approaches that characterised European 18th-century art.