The Princely Collections of Liechtenstein, initiated under Prince Hartmann Liechtenstein in the sixteenth century, bring together five centuries of masterpieces of European art, and are among the most important private collections in the world. Today they comprise some 1700 paintings, dating from the earliest years of the Renaissance to Austrian Romanticism. Equally celebrated is its collection of Italian bronzes. In addition to these prestigious paintings and sculptures, the Princely Collections also contain ensembles of drawings and engravings, of works in precious and semi-precious stones, enamels, ivories, ceremonial weapons, porcelain, tapestries and furniture that formerly embellished the castles and palaces of the ruling dynasty. From 1700, these collections were opened to the public and put on display at the Liechtenstein Palace in Vienna, which since 2004 has become their home once more.
The catalogue comprises all the works included in this exhibition, as well as a number of original essays. It presents some 70 paintings, some of monumental dimensions, 20 sculptures and 15 pieces of furniture chosen for their exceptional interest. Sculptures and paintings by Italian artists including Marcantonio Franceschini, Guido Reni, Canaletto, Massimiliano Benzi Soldano and Flemish artists such as Rubens, Rembrandt, Van Dyck and Frans Hals bear witness to the splendours of the Baroque. Classical works on mythological subjects are also reproduced, and the Biedermeier era is represented by innovators such as Amerling, Winterhalter and Gauermann, as well as Josef Danhauser. The history of the Liechtenstein family is also recounted and illustrated with portraits of its patron princes, testifying to a passion for art that has continued without interruption over several centuries. The quality of the reproductions of the works and wealth of information in the texts ensure that this will be an essential work of reference for connoisseurs of art and specialists in the period from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century, as well as an indispensable source book for the history of collections.
Text in English & French
Caroline Messensee is an art historian.
Johann Kräftner is Director of the Liechtenstein Museum.