A feast for the eyes with Abraham Mignon

Abraham Mignon (1640 –1679), Stillleben mit Fruchtkorb an einer Eiche, um
1670, Öl auf Leinwand, Museum Kunstpalast, Inv. Nr. M 59, Foto Inken Holubec

17th to 20th century still lifes from the collection

Fri, 17.2.2017 until 2018

The magnificent still life by Abraham Mignon (1640–1679) takes centre stage of a presentation of fruit and flower still lifes dating from the 17th to the 20th centuries, offering visitors a feast for the eyes. The presentation was prompted by a restitution process which in 2015 was negotiated by the ‘Advisory Commission on the return of cultural property seized as a result of Nazi persecution, especially Jewish property’. On the commission’s recommendation the work’s return to the community of heirs of the Jewish publisher Ludwig Traube was declined, though a compensatory payment to the heirs was suggested and subsequently effected with the support of the State capital Düsseldorf, the Land NRW and the Cultural Foundation of the Federal States. The lush splendour of Mignon’s ‘Forest Floor Still Life’ has now become a permanent enrichment to the museum’s collection of still lifes of virtuoso Flemish, Dutch and German masterworks from the Baroque period through to Impressionism. The presentation also includes a newly acquired still life by Adolf Senff (1785–1863), which is shown to the public for the first time.

The new acquisition – Adolf Senff Madonna and the Infant Jesus with flower bouquets in Greek vases, 1831–32
During his stay in Rome from 1816 to 1848 the portrait and still life painter, who was both pupil of and in-home tutor for the painter Gerhard von Kügelgen in Dresden, created a wealth of copies after Raffael and gained considerable recognition for his flower painting. With this newly acquired still life, which is regarded as a principal work, Senff truly lives up to his nickname ‘Raffaele dei Fiori’, Raffael of flowers. In this work, he was particularly successful at linking Raffael’s Madonna and a flower still life. It follows the Flemish tradition of the religious still life, using the unusual form of the devotional picture. At the same it reveals the artist to be a traveller between Classicism and the Nazarene movement. The Greek vases stand for classical antiquity, while the Madonna as a Christian picture within the picture represents the emerging Nazarene movement. The lily, passionflower or moon vine allude to a revival of Marian devotion. The artist himself belonged both to the circle of classicist artists such as Bertel Thorvaldsen, and to the Nazarene movement alongside Wilhelm Schadow, founder of the Düsseldorf School of Painting, and his brother Rudolf Schadow. There is evidence that Rudolf von Lützow (1780–1858), Austrian Ambassador to the Holy See in Rome, acquired the picture directly from the artist.

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