I Take Comfort in the Love of Art
Paul J. Kristeller between Berlin and Italy

30.06.2020 to 11.10.2020

In its series The Cabinet at the Gemäldegalerie, the Kuperferstichkabinett (Museum of Prints and Drawings) is showing outstanding engravings and woodcuts from the Italian Renaissance, including works by Andrea Mantegna, Giulio Campagnola and Marcantonio Raimondi. The cabinet exhibition invites visitors not only to get to know famous masterpieces of printmaking, but also to see them through the eyes of art historian Paul J. Kristeller.

Paul James Kristeller (1863-1931) trained at the Kupferstichkabinett in Berlin in the early 1890s. His main interest focused on Italian woodcuts and copper engravings up to the first half of the 16th century. Kristeller published his findings in a series of publications that are still considered to be among the most important specialist literature in the field of Renaissance prints.

Like all former and current young art historians gaining work experience at the Kuperferstichkabinett, Kristeller acquired important knowledge about various topics related to the organisation of a print collection. With this background and driven by his passion for Italian art he eventually went to Italy, where he worked between 1894 and 1898 on reorganising the print collections of museums and libraries according to the model established by the Berlin Kuperferstichkabinett. Although this work was not always easy for Kristeller, as a German responsible for Italian cultural history in Italy, his motivation remained a shared love of art. In 1898, he wrote: “Se mi conforta l’amore dell’arte, che vedo in tutti, cercherò di lottare fino a che posso e casco” (As long as I am comforted by the love of art I see in everyone, I will strive on until I drop.).

Along with several of the masterpieces Kristeller addressed in his essays, the cabinet exhibition also displays a few objects related to the preservation of the collection that provide insights into Kristeller’s curatorial contribution.

An exhibition by the Kupferstichkabinett in the Gemäldegalerie.

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