Place: Sternberg Palace
The exhibition Austrian and German Art of the Second Half of the 19th Century – Part II presents another brilliant set of German and Austrian artworks from the Collection of 19th-century Art. The presentation includes work by artists such as Friedrich von Amerling, Hans Makart, Mihály Munkácsy, Hans Canon, Franz von Lenbach, Adolph von Menzel, Gabriel Max, Wilhelm Leibl and many others. The open, cosmopolitan society of the second half of the 19th century in the lands of the Austrian Empire (the Austro-Hungarian monarchy after 1867) and in Germany created favourable conditions for fine arts to develop. Artists often travelled not only to study at the Academies in Vienna, Munich, Berlin or Düsseldorf, but also to live and work in large art centres. Art was gradually liberated from established stereotypes and became an open platform where new themes and modes of expression were sought to enrich the traditional ones.
The Austrian and German paintings on display focus on figural painting of the second half of the 19th century, presenting its many genres including the art of portraiture. Monumental historical themes and scenes from real life representing both the socio-critical genre and dramatic moments in life were especially popular. Canvasses with spiritism and occultism motifs became a contemporary phenomenon. Historism, which was highly in-demand and widespread at the time, translated themes of worldly society; popular themes included rendezvous in gardens or lavishly furnished interiors. Portraits based on the late-Biedermeier tradition moved in the direction of realism. Some artworks highlighted the portrait's representative and social functions, while others were psychological studies or private sketches.