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Visitors of the Alte Galerie experience five-hundred years of European history as reflected by art and cultural history: In seven display rooms, outstanding examples of Gothic art testify to the religious faith of the Middle Ages; in fifteen redesigned themed rooms, masterpieces created in the Renaissance and Baroque periods bring to life the misery and splendour of the early modern period. A constantly changing selection of precious hand drawings and prints from the Graphic Collection enriches the permanent exhibition through its use of complementary themes.



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Alte Galerie at Schloss Eggenberg

The Alte Galerie is located on the premises of Schloss Eggenberg. Under the links below you will find location photos of the palace and images of the current permanent exhibition.

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About the Alte Galerie

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Between Dying and Dancing. Tales of the early modern period

Around 30 masterpieces from the Dutch Golden Age have enriched the Alte Galerie collection since 2017. These precious permanent loans from the Kaiserschild Foundation now form the core of a comprehensive, new presentation of the Old Masters collection in Graz. In it, paintings and sculptures from three centuries offer a survey of a fascinating period that combined glitter and misery. The epoch’s two faces in this regard are characterised by two of the most valuable paintings in the Alte Galerie: Pieter Brueghel the Younger’s Flemish Carnival, which depicts high spirits and uninhibited pleasure, albeit accompanied by moralistic warnings. Contrasting with this is The Triumph of Death, Jan Brueghel’s apocalyptic vision of man’s powerlessness, and the absolute power of death.

Turning point

The centuries between 1500 and 1800 – we call them the Early Modern Period – mark the transition from the Christian world view of the Middle Ages to the Enlightenment, on the eve of Modernity. We associate this time with the splendour of the Renaissance and the Baroque, yet hidden behind the glittering façade lies unsparing reality. On the surface, we see the grandeur and glamour of courtly festivities. We see a stream of goods flowing to Europe from all corners of the world, the first step toward globalisation; we see erudition filling the libraries.

Yet in reality we find a period of upheaval, of radical change, which is paid for with great suffering. These are centuries of war, which particularly in the first half of the 17th century brings the century to the brink of disaster. The immense devastations and number of victims of the legendary ‘Iron Age’ result in this conflict being deeply embedded in the collective memory of Central Europe. Under the pretext of religion, all the parties pursue the same ruthless policy of violence to achieve domination of Europe and – in one of the first moves towards globalisation – of the ‘new continents’, too.

War and deprivations

The omnipresent war sets Europe in motion, too. Armies and baggage trains criss-cross the entire continent, leaving behind a trail of destruction. Hardship forces droves of war victims, religious refugees and people who have lost everything, to flee, or to a life on the streets. A period of massive climate change after 1550 accentuates the impact of war. Accompanied by global natural disasters and extremes of weather, this so-called ‘Mini-Ice Age’ leads to a fall in temperatures. Endless winter, rainy summers and crop failures are the result. This in turn brings about a dramatic food crisis, which further exacerbates the sufferings of a population that has been severely tested by war and deprivations. People begin to despair. Yet, they learn how to adapt: alongside the rigours of everyday life, an entirely new Baroque culture of celebration emerges, and moments of intense enjoyment of life.

Artworks as eye-witnesses

Creative artists lend a face to this world, they report and propagate, they warn and accuse. In the great religious conflicts of the age, art becomes a weapon, too. In a series of fifteen themebased rooms (Under the Star of Fortuna, The Return of the Gods, The Fight For Souls, The Endless War, A Continent on the Move, The Dream of Abundance, Moments of Happiness, Art and Connoisseurs, Role Play, Virtuous Heroes and Strong Women, From Trauma to Triumph, Carnival of the Gods, Turning Point), the curator team presents the artworks as eloquent eyewitnesses of their period. Such terms as religious conflict and propaganda, migration, climate catastrophe and globalisation remind us, too, of how current many of the exhibition themes are even today – or have become so again.

Works of the following artists are on display in the exhibition:

Willem van Aelst, Denis van Alsloot, Martino Altomonte, Sofonisba Anguissola, Herri met de Bles, Jan Brueghel the Elder, Pieter Brueghel the Younger, Pieter Claesz, Hendrick de Clerck, Lukas Cranach the Elder, Dosso Dossi, Domenico Fetti, Franz de Paula Ferg, Frans Floris, Teodoro Ghisi, Giambologna, Jan van Goyen, Norbert Grund, Franz Christoph Janneck, Angelica Kauffmann, Veit Königer, Johann Baptist Lampi the Elder, Giulio Licinio, Johann Carl Loth, Franz Anton Maulbertsch, Jan Miense Molenaer, Joos de Momper, Aert van der Neer, Adriaen van Ostade, Giovanni Antonio Pellegrini, Johann Georg Platzer, Pietro de Pomis, Johann Michael Rottmayr, Salomon van Ruysdael, Martin Johann Schmidt (known as Kremser Schmidt), Johann Heinrich Schönfeld, Bartholomäus Spranger, Jan Steen, David Teniers the Younger, Francesco Trevisani, Paul Troger, Lucas van Valckenborch, Dirk Valkenburg, Marten de Vos, Sebastiaan Vrancx, Hans Adam Weissenkircher and Philips Wouwerman.