Belvedere presents VIENNA 1450 – The Master of Lichtenstein Castle and his Time

The Belvedere presents VIENNA 1450 – The Master of Lichtenstein Castle and his Time an exhibition on view until Feb 23, 2014.

Master of Lichtenstein Castle, The Birth of Christ, c. 1445. Painting on fir panel, 101 x 50 cm© The State Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow.

Master of Lichtenstein Castle, The Birth of Christ, c. 1445. Painting on fir panel, 101 x 50 cm© The State Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow.

In presenting VIENNA 1450 – The Master of Lichtenstein Castle and his Time, the Belvedere is the first museum to devote an exhibition to this outstanding Vienna-based artist who was given the invented name Master of Lichtenstein Castle – a great anonymous painter who numbered among the most important Central European artists of his generation. Hardly known to the broad public, the artist is considered one of the pioneers during a period of transition in fifteenth-century European art, when a new attitude towards reality made itself felt everywhere. Besides the famous Albrecht Altar, originally installed in the church Am Hof (today in Klosterneuburg Monastery), the master’s works number among the most beautiful accomplishments that have survived from the period of early realism in the German-speaking area. The worldwide dispersal of the œuvre of this late medieval master is an exemplary case of the dislocation of Gothic polyptychs, many of which were taken apart to be offered for sale on the art market and entered private collections in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The precious panels by the Master of Lichtenstein Castle are now reunited for the first time and displayed in the context of important comparable works from international collections. The unidentified painter went down in the annals of art history as the Master of Lichtenstein Castle, named after the knight’s castle near Reutlingen in Baden-Württemberg. The presentation of two monumental altar panels, which in the mid-nineteenth century ended up in Lichtenstein Castle, built by Count William of Württemberg and accommodating a rich art collection, rapidly contributed to the fame of the works. Since then, the œuvre of the great anonymous painter has grown to the impressive number of 23 panels, which were literally torn apart and widely dispersed before 1825, so that the knowledge about their original context got lost. Preserving as many as six panels, the Belvedere now owns the largest holdings of works by this master. They have been examined and restored according the latest scientific methods within the framework of a research project.

The exhibition VIENNA 1450 – The Master of Lichtenstein Castle and his Time is the first effort to reunite the precious panels from Lichtenstein Castle and museums in Augsburg, Basel, Esztergom, Moscow, Munich, Philadelphia, Stuttgart, Tallinn, Vienna, and Warsaw and introduce a documentation of the reconstructed altar. www.belvedere.at/

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