Zwinger with Semper Building
Ausstellungsgebäude an der Brühlschen Terrasse
In addition to the masterpieces of world-famous painters of the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries in the Old Masters Picture Gallery, visitors can admire the outstanding inventory of the Porcelain Collection as well as historical timepieces and scientific instruments of three centuries. The jewels and precious objects of Europe's most magnificent treasure chamber museum along with the everyday and luxury articles of the Saxon Court now on view in the Museum of Decorative Arts take visitors on a vivid journey through a rich history. The weapons and costume displays of the Armoury, the Coin Cabinet with its badges and medals commemorating events of importance in local history, as well as an exhibition of regional folk art round out the overview of Dresden's and Saxony's fascinating past. The Sculpture Collection and the Cabinet of Prints and Drawings transport visitors to more remote times and places, borne by objects ranging in date from the early cultures to the very present. With its superb works of the nineteenth to twenty-first centuries, the New Masters Gallery makes the unique experience of art offered by the city of Dresden complete.History of the Collection
The great majority of the artworks presently on view in the Old Masters Picture Gallery were assembled in little over fifty years. Two successive electors and kings of Poland – August the Strong (Saxon elector from1694, Polish king from 1697) and his son King August III (reign: 1733-1763) – systematically developed the specialized collection. Particularly the younger of the two sovereigns distinguished himself by his remarkable connoisseurship in the area of painting and graphic arts. They succeeded in making significant acquisitions, including the spectacular purchase of one hundred masterworks from the holdings of the Duke of Modena, presumably carried out in 1746. In the course of the following year, the collection – its excellence already acknowledged throughout Europe – moved to the altered stable on the Neumarkt.
The relatively limited period of establishment is what lends this collection its special quality. Composed primarily of works of the High Renaissance and the Baroque along with virtuoso examples by the collectors’ contemporaries, it is a perfect testimony to the tastes of the eighteenth century. Gottfried Semper’s design for the present gallery building adjacent to the Zwinger was carried to realization between 1847 and 1855.
During World War II, the paintings were stored elsewhere and survived unharmed, while the Semper Building itself was severely damaged in 1945. After the war, the works were transported to the former Soviet Union.
The reconstruction of the gallery building got under way in 1955 in response to the announcement of the return of its holdings from the East; by 1960 the entire gallery had reopened. Fundamental modernization measures were carried out in the Semper Building between 1988 and 1992 with an emphasis on the preservation and reconstruction of the historical architecture. In its present form, the collection of Old Masters is justifiably considered one of Europe’s most splendid painting galleries.Old Masters Picture Gallery
The world renown of the Dresden Old Masters Picture Gallery is founded in its outstanding collection of high-ranking masterpieces. Among the primary focuses of its holdings are Italian painting of the Renaissance - as exemplified by major works of Raphael, Giorgione and Titian - as well as works in the Mannerist and Baroque styles. Of equal significance is the inventory of Dutch and Flemish paintings of the seventeenth century. Not only are Rembrandt and his followers represented with a large number of works of superb quality, but the collection also comprises paintings by Vermeer and Ruysdael and the great Flemish artists Rubens, Jordaens and Van Dyck.
The gallery moreover presents major works of Old German and Old Dutch painting by artists such as Jan van Eyck, Dürer, Cranach and Holbein. Splendid paintings by Spanish and French artists of the seventeenth century – among them Ribera and Murillo, Poussin and Lorrain – are also to be found in the collection.
In addition to the quality of the holdings, the spacious setting provided by the Semper Building as well as its magnificent furnishings meet the highest standards of excellence. Hundreds of thousands of art admirers are drawn to this picture gallery every year.
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