The Secret of Dresden – From Rembrandt to Canaletto

13 December 2014 to 25 May 2015

The collections in Dresden form one of the best-kept secrets of European art. At the time, the art compilations amassed by Prince-Electors of Saxony in the eighteenth century belonged to the most beautiful and renowned collections in Europe. Het geheim van Dresden - van Rembrandt tot Canaletto (The Secret of Dresden – From Rembrandt to Canaletto) displays a selection from the impressive collection of paintings that nowadays constitute the core of the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister in Dresden. There are masterpieces such as the Rembrandt’s Abduction of Ganymede (1635), as well as works by painters who were once considered to be masters but have now been (almost) forgotten. Together they tell the story of the florescence of the court of Saxony in the eighteenth century.

An exhibition organized by the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden in conjunction with the Groninger Museum.

  • Pietro Antonio Graf Rotari, Man with fur hat, 1755, oil painting, 35 x 43,5 cm, Dresdener Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister
  • Titiaan (Tiziano Vecellio), Portrait of a lady in white, oil painting, 102 x 86 cm, Dresdener Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister

Saxony was already one of the most prosperous German states when Prince-Elector August the Strong managed to acquire the kingship of Poland in 1697. He underlined his new status among the royal courts of Europe by starting up ambitious building projects and initiating an impressive art collection that could rival those of the major royal collections of that period. After his death, his collecting activities were continued by his son August III until deep into the eighteenth century. The cultural wealth of Dresden was so notable that the city was referred to as ‘Florence on the Elbe’. The general public was increasingly granted access to the collection of paintings, so that one of the first public museums in the world eventually arose. Goethe, who often visited the Gemäldegalerie, regarded it as a true sanctuary of art.

As a consequence of renovation, a part of the collection of the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister has now become temporarily available for display elsewhere. In a number of thematic chapters, ‘The Secret of Dresden’ tells of the important role of art in eighteenth-century Saxony. On show are mythological paintings by Rembrandt and Canaletto, portraits by Titian and Velázquez, views of Venice by Canaletto, and landscapes by Philips Wouwerman and Claude Lorrain.

In addition to Groningen, this exhibition will also be on display in Munich and Vienna.
An extensive German catalogue will accompany the exhibition, supplemented by a more concise Dutch-language version.