on November 3, 2006
This is one of the world’s most famous art galleries. It was designed by Leo von Klenze and was built in 1826-36 in the Italian-Renaissance style. This gallery, and its adjacent sisters, makes Munich one of the greatest cultural cities in Europe.In the sixteenth century, Bavaria's rulers began acquiring works of art for their personal enjoyment. These were placed in several palaces and galleries throughout Bavaria. In 1836, many of the works were moved to the Alte Pinakothek and opened to the public.The museum houses an expanded collection of several thousand European paintings from the 13th to 18th century. Its collection of Early Italian, Old German, Old Dutch and Flemish paintings is possibly the most important in the world. More than 800 paintings are exhibited.The early German works are outstanding, particularly Durer’s self-portrait (1500) and his The Four Apostles (1526), and Lucas Cranach’s Adam and Eve and his Venus. There is also the best collection of Rubens you are likely to see. I was particularly impressed by the enormous Great Last Judgement (1607). The Hippopotamus Hunt is a triumph. There are also some exceptional Italian and French works. There are only two floors with exhibits, but the museum is immense. The landscape painter par excellence of the Danube school, Albrecht Altdorfer, is represented by six monumental works. Several galleries are given over to works by Dutch and Flemish masters. The St. Columba Altarpiece (1460-62), by Roger van der Weyden, is the most important of these, in size as well as significance. Measuring nearly 3m (10 ft.) across, it is a triumph of van der Weyden's subtle linear style and one of his last works (he died in 1464). You'll also see a Madonna by Da Vinci.The numerous works by Rembrandt and van Dyck include a series of religious panels painted by Rembrandt for Prince Frederick Hendrick of the Netherlands. Make sure you don't miss the tiny Rembrandt self-portrait as a young man (1629). A variety of French, Spanish, and Italian artists are found in both the larger galleries and the small rooms lining the outer wall. The Italian masters are well represented by Fra Filippo Lippi, Giotto, Botticelli, Raphael (Holy Family), and Titian.The first floor is larger and generally more interesting than the ground floor. The museum’s catalogue reads like a who’s who of European art and covers all major periods and artists. The museum is well laid out, allowing for easy navigation and full appreciation of the works without having to back track constantly. They have a nice gift shop and a small cafe where you can take a rest and some nourishment before continuing across the street at the Neue Pinakothek, or a little further to the Pinakothek der Moderne.Tel: 2380 5216 for more details.
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