A large part of the exhibition is devoted to the German Renaissance. In the first room there is an interesting collection of painted wooden sculptures, for example, Virgin and Child and St George the Victorious by unknown masters of the late fifteenth century and Virgin and Child by Tilman Riemenschneider.

A typical example of fifteenth century German art is the sculptural group Pieta (ter-ra-cotta) in which features of the new humanist vision are discernible despite the adherence to medieval convention. These same tendencies can be seen in the diptych Christ and the Virgin before God the Father by Hans von Kulmbach (c. 1481/82-1522). In the Hermitage there is a splendid collection of German portrait painting from the Renaissance era. This includes, in room 263, Portrait of a Young Man by Ambrosius Holbein (c. 1498-1520); in room 264, the Portrait of a Man with His Two Sons and Portrait of a Lady with Her Daughter, painted by Barthel Bruyn the Elder (1493-1555); in room 265, Portrait of a Young Man and Portrait of a Woman by Christoph Amberger (after 1500-c. 1561); and in room 266, Portrait of an Elderly Man and Portrait of a Young Woman by Nicholas Neufchatel (e. 1520-1567). The great masters of the German Renaissance, Albrecht Diirer (1471-1528) and Hans Holbein the Younger (1497-1543), are represented in the exhibition by engravings and woodcuts, Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472-1553) by five paintings. Among these are his Venus and Cupid, Portrait of a Woman and Virgin and Child, which rank with the finest examples of the German art of the Renaissance period (room 264).

Rooms 266 and 267. The small collection of seventeenth century German painting contains some interesting examples of different genres. These include the formal Portrait of a Mongolian Merchant with His Sons by Daniel Schultz (1615-1683); Portrait of a Young Man in a Far Cap and Still Life by Christopher Paudiss (1625- 1666), who studied painting under Rembrandt; Self-portrait by Jur-gen Owens (1623-1679); and the mythological and religious compositions of Johann Heinrich Schonfeldt (1609-1679)- The Rape of the Sabines and The Wedding at Cana.

Room 268. Anton Raffael Mengs (1728-1779) was one of the most celebrated exponents of Neoclassicism, which became established in Germany during the second half of the eighteenth century. A typical example of his work is the painting Perseus and Andromeda. Mengs was also active in the field of portraiture (see his Self-portrait), which came to be practised on a large scale in eighteenth century German art. This genre is represented in the exhibition by some splendid canvases, painted by artists who at one time were well-known – Antoine Pesne (1683-1757), Anton Graf (1736-1813), and Johann Friedrich August Tischbein (1750-1812). The work of Angelika Kaufmann (1741-1807), who enjoyed great popularity not only in Germany but also abroad, is illustrated by her Virgil Reading the Aeneid to Octavia and Augustus.

In rooms 265-268 there are a great many examples of the work of German craftsmen, who were renowned throughout Europe. Special mention should be made of the rich collection of gilded silver goblets made by Nuremberg and Augsburg craftsmen, wood and ivory carvings, and glassware with designs painted in enamel.


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3 May 2007

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