Exhibition | Vive le Pastel!

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on October 1, 2022

On view for a few more weeks at the Alte Pinakothek:

Vive le Pastel! Pastel Painting from Vivien to La Tour / Pastellmalerei von Vivien bis La Tour
Alte Pinakothek, Munich, 7 May — 23 October 2022

Joseph Vivien, Portrait of Charles, Duke of Berry (1686–1714), 1700, pastel on paper, 100 × 81 cm (Staatsgalerie im Neuen Schloss Schleißheim).

Often seen in art galleries or palaces, in magnificent ornamental frames and behind glass, their powdery surface making them seem as delicate as they are exquisite: pastels. They enjoyed considerable popularity in the 18th century when many works were created, especially in France. The colours are applied dry, using pastel sticks and covering the whole surface. The pastel painting technique was frequently used for lively, sensitively composed portraits in particular. But what are the reasons for the technique’s blossoming at the time? What advantages did pastels have over oil paintings? Who had their portraits painted in pastel? And how exactly were pastels created? These questions are explored in this special exhibition presented by the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen at the Alte Pinakothek.

The focus is on the two collections’ own holdings, in which such important names as Joseph Vivien, Maurice Quentin de La Tour, Rosalba Carriera, and Jean-Étienne Liotard are represented. For the first time pastel paintings from the Alte Pinakothek are shown together with those from the state gallery in Neues Schloss Schleißheim. In addition, some rarely displayed works from the depot by anonymous artists, as well as a few selected loans are also exhibited. This unique combination of works makes it possible to compare artists and their approaches and invites visitors to discover the variety of different effects realised in these works.

There are two further reasons for this exhibition. Generous support provided by the Corona Fund of the Ernst von Siemens Kunststiftung has made it possible for urgently needed conservation and restoration work to be carried out on the Schleißheim pastels by a specialist. As a result, and due to examinations being carried out as part of a current research project on the French paintings, the works are temporarily in Munich. Before their return to the gallery in Schleißheim the opportunity is being taken to exhibit them in the Alte Pinakothek and, as such, within a larger context. At the same time, the presentation also celebrates a new acquisition—Portrait of Jean-Baptiste Philippe by Maurice Quentin de La Tour—donated by Mr Fritz Lehnhoff as a loan from the Museumsstiftung zur Förderung der Staatlichen Bayerischen Museen, that entered the collection in 2021.

A guide to the collection, covering the complete holdings of pastels from the late 17th and 18th centuries in the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, accompanies the exhibition.

Elisabeth Hipp, ed., with an introduction by Bernhard Maaz and contributions by Bernd Ebert, Ulrike Fischer, Elisabeth Hipp, Xavier Salmon, and Herbert Rott, Pastellmalerei vor 1800 in den Bayerischen Staatsgemäldesammlungen (Berlin: Deutscher Kunstverlag, 2022), 136 pages, ISBN: 978-3422989009, 15€.


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