The Brukenthal Museum is one of the oldest in Romania. It was founded by the Baron Samuel von Brukenthal in the town of Sibiu, in the heart of the Romanian region Transylvania. Samuel von Brukenthal (1721 -1803) originated in the German lesser nobility from Transylvania. He studied law, political administration and philosophy at the universities of Halle and Jena being trained up in the spirit of the European Enlightenment.
An appreciated scholar and a qualified diplomat, Brukenthal worked his way up at the Viennese Imperial Court and finally he became “aulic” chancellor of Transyl- vania. That was the time he made up his painting collection. In 1773 it was mentioned in Almanach von Wien and considered as one of the most valuable private collections to be found in Vienna at that time. Sharing the inter- est in sciences of his time, Brukenthal collected rare books, numismatics, archaeological and mineral items as well.
Brukenthal got back to Sibiu as he was appointed governor of Transylvania and built up a palace in a late Baroque style on the model of the Viennese ones. The luxurious rooms of the palace, the art galleries and the printroom, the library, the musical evenings and literary soirée organized by Baron Samuel von Brukenthal represented a spiritual nucleus for Transylva- nia. Returning to Sibiu as Governor of the Great Principality of Transylvania, the baron brought here his collections, too. Martin Hochmeister’s calendar of the year 1790 (Hermannstadt im Jahre 1790) mentions among the attractions of the town the painting collection, which included 800 paintings and was exhibited 13 rooms of the Brukenthal Palace.
The European painting collection of the Baron Samuel von Brukenthal includes a number of about 1,200 works belonging to the main European painting schools of the 15th up to the 18th century: Flemish-Dutch, German and Austrian, Italian, Spanish and French. The present exhibit offers visitors the possibility to compare the main artistic movements and styles from the Renaissance to the Rococo.
The Flemish and Dutch School is represented both by great and less important masters, formed in the renowned painting centres in Anvers, Brussels, Gant, Bruges, Amsterdam, Leida, Utrecht. Being characterised by a great diversity, it facilitates the encounter with the religious or mythological themes within Marinus van Reymerswaele’s and Frans Floris Van Vriendt’s creation, with Peter Paul Rubens’ or Anton van Dyck’s luxurious aristocratic painting, with Frans Snyders’, Jan Fyt’s or Hendrik ter Brugghen’s embellishment of still-lifes, or with Adriaen van der Venne’s and Jan Gerritsz van Bronkhorst’s intimacy of bourgeois scenes.
The German and Austrian School, including over 430 paintings, displays beside illustrious names of the Late German Renaissance like Lucas Cranach the Elder or Schwab von Wertinger, various works belonging to painters from the 17th and the 18th century: portraitists like Christoph Pauditz, famous student of Rembrandt and Jan Kupetzky or Martin Meytens, praised landscape painters like Anton Faistenberger, painters of religious and mythological themes like Hans von Aachen, Peter Strudel, Franz C. Sambach or Johann H. Schönfeld, but also still-life masters like Georg Hinz, Franz W. Tamm or Maximilian Pfeiler.
The Italian School, although illustrated by a relative small number of works in comparison to the other schools (about 200 canvases), has a great importance through the works of well-known artists: Alessandro Botticelli, Tullio Lombardo, Tiziano Vecellio, Paris Bordone, Sebas- tiano Ricci, Alessandro Magnasco. Representative remain the schools from Venice, Geneva and Naples.
The origins of the National Art Collection lie in the works purchased by the curators of the Brukenthal Museum in the 19th century, who showed their interest also in the local artistic accomplishments, too. It includes paintings, graphics, sculptures, furniture, silverware, porcelain, glassware etc. from the 15th century up to the modern period.
The Transylvanian Painting Collection, one of the most significant of its kind in the country, includes a great number of portraits from the 16th to the 18th century, which are important especially from a historical and documentary point of view, being a true gallery of the illustrious figures belonging to the Saxon patriciate. From among these works we mention “The Portrait of Lucas Hirscher”, which is considered to be the first lay portrait in the history of national painting being made by the painter Gregorius from Barsov, “The Portrait of the Equerry Mathias Semriger” by Jeremias Stranovius, a painter of Slovakian origin, who worked in Transylvania, “The Portrait of Anna Maria Huttern” and “The Portrait of Johann Gottlieb Fabritius” by Johann Martin Stock, the most appreciated painter of the century coming from Sibiu, “Portrait of the Historian Hans Eder”, belonging to Franz Neuhauser, an artist of Vien- nese origin who settled in Sibiu, etc. From among the portraitists and landscape artists of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century we mention Theodor Benedikt Sockl, Theodor Glatz, Heinrich Trenk, Misu Popp, Carl Dörschlag, Arthur Coulin, Robert Wellmann, Fritz Schullerus, Octavian Smigelschi, Emerich Tamás, Friedrich Miess.
The Collection of Modern and Contemporary Art focuses on the main moments in the evolution of Romanian painting with the help of great names: Nicolae Grigorescu, the initiator of modern Romanian painting, Theodor Pallady, considered to be the most important painter from between the two World Wars, Hans Mattis Teutsch, the first abstract painter, Corneliu Baba and Alexandru Ciucurencu, the initiators of the Romanian contemporary school of painting.
Presentation by Lora Haranaciu