Anthony van Dyck, Self-Portrait as a Youth, c. 1615, oil on oak, 43.3 x 32.3 cm, original size: 25.8 x 19.5 cm © The Paintings Gallery of the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna

Rubens, Rembrandt and Van Dyck on show at Masterpieces from Vienna

18 October 2019

New exhibition displays large number of Flemish and Dutch masterpieces from Vienna - from 8 February until 1 June 2020 at Het Noordbrabants Museum

On Saturday 8 February 2020 Het Noordbrabants Museum in the Dutch city ‘s-Hertogenbosch will open the exhibition, Masterpieces from Vienna. Flemish and Dutch masters from the Paintings Gallery and Graphic Collection of the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna. This exceptional selection of 17th century paintings and drawings is taken from the as yet largely unknown collection of the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna. The exhibition encompasses a large number of works by Flemish and Dutch masters, including Peter Paul Rubens, Anthony van Dyck, Rembrandt van Rijn and Melchior d’Hondecoeter. This is the first time that a selection of this magnitude will be exhibited in the Netherlands, and that the unique story of the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna and its valuable collection will be told.

Educational role

Europe originally had numerous art academies, with collections of great prestige. These collections weren't so much assembled with the intention of being shown to the public, rather to enable students of art to study and copy the masterpieces within the walls of the academies. By the late 19th, early 20th century, ties with the art academies had largely been severed and most of the collections were absorbed by museums. However, the collection from the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna – whose history stretches back to 1692 – still belongs to the university and remains within the four walls of its monumental academy building in the Schillerplatz. 

Exceptional collection

Alongside its educational role, the Viennese Academy does also function as a museum, and has done so for almost two hundred years. This is largely thanks to a single gift: In 1822, Count Anton Lamberg-Sprinzenstein bequeathed to the Academy an impressive legacy. This consisted of approximately 800 paintings, including the works of Rubens, Van Dyck, Guardi and Rembrandt, among others. He did, however, attach a condition to this legacy: the Academy was to display the gift to the public. And so the Gemäldegalerie der Akademie der bildenden Künste came into being: a university museum with a world-class collection.

Host to as yet largely unknown collections

This is not the first time that Het Noordbrabants Museum has hosted a similarly relatively unknown, valuable collection. In 2016, the museum was able to bring the so-called Brukenthal Collection to the Netherlands from the Romanian city of Sibiú: a collection of top pieces largely unfamiliar to Dutch museum audiences and including the likes of Van Eyck, Brueghel and Jordaens.
This time, it is thanks to major renovations taking place at the Academy in Vienna that Het Noordbrabants Museum has been able to showcase a comparatively unknown and leading Austrian collection, with pieces by the great Flemish and Dutch masters.

Despite its nearby location to Vienna’s top museums - just a few hundred metres away - the Academy of Fine Arts’ collection remains a well-kept secret. The exhibition in ’s‑Hertogenbosch, followed by the reopening of the Gemäldegalerie in the autumn of 2020, will undoubtedly –  and justifiably – result in a rise in fame among the Dutch and Flemish public.

Absolute masterpieces

Masterpieces from Vienna will run from 8 February until 1 June 2020 inclusive and displays over fifty paintings and twenty drawings. Absolute masterpieces are The Dreaming Silenus by Peter Paul Rubens, Self-Portrait as a Youth by Anthony van Dyck and Portrait of an Unknown Young Woman by Rembrandt van Rijn.

See also press file