Liebieghaus Acquires Major Collection of Ivory Sculptures

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on March 9, 2019

Furienmeister (active around 1600‒1625), Fury on a Charging Horse, 1610; ivory, wood, and bone; 41 cm high (Frankfurt am Main: Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung, Reiner Winkler Collection).

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From the press release (7 March 2019). . .

White Wedding: The Ivory Collection of Reiner Winkler Now in the Liebieghaus. Forever
Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung, Frankfurt am Main, from 27 March 2019

Curated by Maraike Bückling

The Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung is to be enriched by a magnificent addition. The Ernst von Siemens Kunststiftung, the Städelscher Museums-Verein, and the Städel Museum, with the support of the Kulturstiftung der Länder and the Hessische Kulturstiftung, have acquired for the Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung a collection of over 200 valuable ivory sculptures owned by Reiner Winkler. With this acquisition, made possible through the generous gift of a large part of the collection by Reiner Winkler, the Liebieghaus has achieved the most important expansion of its own holdings in the history of the museum. From 27 March 2019, some 190 artworks will be shown on view in the exhibition White Wedding: The Ivory Collection of Reiner Winkler Now in the Liebieghaus. Forever. The ivory works from the Middle Ages and the Baroque and Rococo periods will be presented in theme-based chapters.

Over the decades, the collector and patron Reiner Winkler (b. 1925) has assembled a legendary private collection of ivory sculptures with a focus on Baroque masterpieces. One outstanding work is, for example, Fury on a Charging Horse (1610). Further masterpieces in the collection are The Fall of the Rebel Angels (first third of the 18th century) from Southern Italy/Sicily, The Three Parcae (ca. 1670) by Joachim Henne (1629‒ca. 1707), and Francis van Bossuit’s (1635–1692) Mercury, Argus and Io (ca. 1670/75?), as well as important sculptural works by Johann Caspar Schenck (ca. 1620‒1674), Balthasar Grießmann (ca. 1620–1706), and Matthias Steinl (1643/44–1727). The unique compilation of works provides the Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung with the opportunity to expand its own internationally important collection at the very highest level. The acquisition also establishes European ivory art as a central focus of the collection in the Baroque and Rococo department at the Liebieghaus—a focus which, in the future, will be the subject of in-depth academic research and education.

Matthias Steinl, Chronos on the Globe, ca. 1720‒1725, ivory (Frankfurt am Main: Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung, Reiner Winkler Collection).

“Reiner Winkler’s collection is not only the world’s largest private collection of ivory sculptures; it is also unique for its particular art-historical significance. We are delighted and immensely grateful to Mr. Winkler that his collection will now find a new home in the Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung—in the very place that Reiner Winkler had long imagined for his artworks. The patron’s assignment of the collection at an extremely generous price is tantamount to the gift of most of the pieces and has made this most important addition to the holdings in the history of the museum possible. With the collection of Reiner Winkler, the Liebieghaus has been granted not only a new area of focus within the collection, but also the opportunity to considerably expand the international significance and profile of the Liebieghaus,” explained Philipp Demandt, Director of the Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung and the Städel Museum.

Reiner Winkler has been building up his collection continuously since 1962. After several years of collecting sculptures of various materials and periods, he soon decided to concentrate on ivory sculptures of the 17th and 18th centuries, and as well as, to a considerably lesser extent, the early 19th century. Winkler has maintained a close relationship with the Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung for many years. On a number of occasions in the past he has generously provided the museum with loans for exhibitions.

Winkler commented on the transfer of his collection to the museum: “I am very happy that my collection will find a new and permanent home in the Liebieghaus and will therefore continue to exist as a ‘Gesamtkunstwerk.’ I have been pursuing this idea for many years now, since I am convinced that, in this way, it will be possible to achieve a wonderful symbiosis. The framework is ideal, as regards both the setting and art history. Then there is the perfect manner in which the areas of focus of the collection blend with the academic expertise of the museum, the proximity to our home town of Wiesbaden and, last but not least, the enthusiasm and the wonderful commitment of all those involved. This has strengthened my conviction that every single work will find a superb new home here and that there cannot be a better permanent place for my collection than the Liebieghaus. I am proud and delighted that uniting the existing collection of Baroque and Rococo art in the Liebieghaus with my collection will now transform the museum into a place where internationally important sculptures will be made accessible to the public as in no other location, and I hope that many visitors will experience great pleasure in viewing the exhibits.”

The acquisition was made possible by the Ernst von Siemens Kunststiftung, the Städelscher Museums-Verein, and the Städel Museum with the support of the Kulturstiftung der Länder and the Hessische Kulturstiftung.

The President of the Städelscher Museums-Verein, Sylvia von Metzler, is delighted “that the Städelscher Museums-Verein as an important patron of the acquisitions for the Städel Museum and the Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung was able to make a significant contribution towards the acquisition of this unique collection.”

“Our support for the acquisition of the exquisite Winkler ivory collection is the largest financial sponsorship which the Ernst von Siemens Kunststiftung has undertaken in recent years, since the foundation covered almost half of the philanthropic purchase price. Our founder was a businessman and patron of the arts, and he would have appreciated the hands-on manner in which the enthusiastic and generous collector and the Liebieghaus have taken advantage of this unique opportunity to bring about a substantial expansion of the collection,” observed Dr. Martin Hoernes, Secretary General of the Ernst von Siemens Kunststiftung.

Eva Claudia Scholtz, Managing Director of the Hessische Kulturstiftung, confirmed: “The Hessische Kulturstiftung is delighted that, through its involvement, one of the most remarkable collections of Baroque sculptures in private ownership can now be made permanently accessible to an audience from Germany and abroad in the Liebieghaus in Frankfurt.”

As a first step, the Kulturstiftung der Länder supported the acquisition of the Fury on a Charging Horse. Additional support for the entire collection is subject to the approval of the next meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Kulturstiftung der Länder. Prof. Dr. Markus Hilgert, Secretary General of the Kulturstiftung der Länder: “It is most fortunate that a museum such as the Liebieghaus is able to acquire a collection as complete as this one and at the same time to come across an collector whose expertise and passion for art is linked to the conviction that such magnificent treasures should remain accessible to the public. It was a similar conviction which, in the past, led to the founding of the Kulturstiftung der Länder, which is why we are delighted to support this acquisition.”

The Collection

The Reiner Winkler Collection concentrates on works from the 17th and 18th centuries, the golden age of the art of ivory carving. It contains a large number of English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Austrian, Dutch, and Flemish ivory sculptures, as well as two works from India and China. They include statuettes, groups of figures, reliefs, medallions, and a small number of tankards and ceremonial vessels. “With the works from the Reiner Winkler Collection, visitors to the Liebieghaus can appreciate fine and top-quality artworks of European sculpture during the Baroque and Rococo periods that cover a truly remarkable range,” observed Dr. Maraike Bückling, Head of Collections in the Renaissance to Classicism department and curator of the exhibition. The works in the extensive collection provide an impressive overview of the history of Baroque ivory art. In addition, the various features of ivory carving within Europe are shown in an impressive manner. In some areas, the collection of the Liebieghaus and the Reiner Winkler Collection complement each other, as for example in the works by the artists of the Schenck family. The Liebieghaus owns an ivory relief, The Archangel Michael Fighting the Devil (1683) by Christoph Daniel Schenck (1633–1691). The Reiner Winkler Collection boasts several outstanding works by this family of artists, including an exquisite Allegory of Summer (ca. 1666), created by an older relative of Christoph Daniel, Johann Caspar Schenck (ca. 1620–1674). While the Liebieghaus possesses a small ivory relief identified as belonging to the circle of the Netherlandish artist Gérard van Opstal (1594/97–1668), the Reiner Winkler Collection now adds two further works from his vicinity, one of which may have belonged to King Louis XIV. One of the most important artists of the 17th and 18th centuries was the Austrian Matthias Steinl (1643/44–1727). The holdings of the museum include an unusual wooden statue of Maria Immaculata (1688), while the Reiner Winkler Collection contains Steinl’s small, masterfully worked ivory statuette Chronos on the Globe (ca. 1720/1725?). Masterpieces by famous sculptors such as Adam Lenckhardt (1610–1661), Balthasar Grießmann (ca. 1620–1706), Thomas Schwanthaler (1634–1707), Francis van Bossuit (1635–1692), David Le Marchand (1674–1726), Jean Cavalier (ca. 1650/60‒1698/99), Joachim Henne (1629‒ca. 1707), Theophilus Wilhelm Freese (1696–1763), Johann Christoph Ludwig Lücke (ca. 1703‒1780), and Simon Troger (1693–1768) will be finding their way into the Liebieghaus Sculpture Collection following the acquisition of the Reiner Winkler Collection.

The Exhibition

With the exhibition White Wedding: The Ivory Collection of Reiner Winkler Now in the Liebieghaus. Forever, the Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung presents almost all the pieces from the Reiner Winkler Collection, thereby demonstrating their artistic range. The works within the collection enter into a dialogue with objects from the museum’s own collection. Ivory works from the Liebieghaus are juxtaposed with those from the Reiner Winkler Collection, and museum exhibits by the same artists but made of other materials are also on view. Some 190 exhibits trace the history of small sculpture in the Baroque and Rococo ages. Certain masterpieces from the Reiner Winkler Collection are the subject of a special focus within the exhibition. These include, for example, Fury on a Charging Horse (1610) by the so-called Master of the Furies (active ca. 1600–1625), a central work from the Reiner Winkler Collection. Also on view are The Three Parcae (ca. 1670) by Joachim Hennes, Francis van Bossuit’s Mercury, Argus and Io (ca. 1670/75?), the relief panels carved by an unknown Augsburg sculptor Minerva introducing Sculpture and Painting to the seven Free Arts (second half of the 17th century), as well as the Depiction of eight Cardinal Virtues (second half of the 17th century), together with Matthias Steinl’s Chronos on the Globe (ca. 1720/25?), the Allegory of Damnation in Hell (1736) by Johann Christoph Ludwig Lücke, and the Fall of the Rebel Angels (first third of the 18th century), carved by an unknown ivory artist from southern Italy or Sicily. Germany and Austria played an important role in ivory art, as can be clearly seen in the Reiner Winkler Collection. Therefore, important artists such as Leonhard Kern (1588‒1662), Georg Pfründt (1603‒1663), Jacob Dobbermann (1682–1745), the Lücke family, and the Schencks are awarded their own chapters within the exhibition. A special section unites medieval works, representations of saints, and works that convey Biblical content, which are combined to form a group. Works dedicated to themes from antiquity and those which were created by court sculptors or Kammerbildhauer are also displayed as an ensemble. Three art regions are presented: the Netherlands, Southern Italy/Sicily, and Dieppe.

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