About 1800

The dawn of modern times

During the reign of Emperor Joseph II (1780-1790) a rapid output of reforms in the spirit of Enlightenment was enforced, limitating the influence of the Roman Church and her insititutions. Many convents and monasteries were dissolved. Baroque pageantry was more and more rejected in favour of austerity due to the ideal of classical Antiquity, regularly identified with moral purity. On the other hand, there is much admiration of primitivism and nature far from civilization and decline, so vividly promulgated by the mastermind of his time: Jean-Jacques Rousseau.


However, late Baroque art was still flourishing in Austria, due to Martin Johann Schmidt, named Kremser Schmidt, one of the most prolific painters in the late 18th century. Having enrolled at the Vianna art academy, he combines sacred Baroque tradition with the fashionable Rembrandt manner, particularly obvious from his oil sketches also numerously to be found in the Alte Galerie. With his countless altarpieces, he is omnipresent in Austrian parish churches, monasteries, and galleries.

New attention is paid to the great masters of 17th century Dutch and Flemish painting: Rubens an Rembrandt. Those retrospective tendencies also became manifest in the portraits of the Swiss-born Angelica Kauffmann, highly respected in London and one of the most renowned female painters in art history. She represents the "Vandyke manner" essential to British portrait painting in the age of Joshua Reynolds and Thomas Gainsborough.


In late 18th century Munich, the Graz-born Johann Georg Edlinger became a faithful adherent of the Rembrandt manner, with particular esteem for minor classes. A partisan of the Enlightenment, he produced countless portraits, creating a real "pantheon of common men", refusing superficial elegance cherished by Neoclassical taste. At the end of the century, however, Neoclassic art has become a rigid academic doctrine. Virtue is its message, very close to the masterminds of the French Revolution.

Alte Galerie, Schloss Eggenberg

Eggenberger Allee 90
8020 Graz, Österreich
T +43-316/8017-9560


Opening Hours

26. April 2019 to 31. October 2019 Tue-Sun, public holidays 10am - 5pm

01. November 2019 to 29. December 2019 Tue-Sun, public holidays 10am - 5pm admission with guided tours and by appointment only

Opening Hours Library
Tues–Fri 10am–12pm and afternoons by appointment only


10th June

24th/25th December
31st December