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Early Netherlandisch and French Painting, 1400–1480. A Critical Inventory Catalogue

Berlin’s Gemäldegalerie is home to one of the world’s most impressive collections of early Netherlandish painting from the 15th century, most of which was amassed in the 19th and early 20th century. The collection includes masterpieces by artists such as Jan van Eyck, Rogier van der Weyden, Petrus Christus, and Hugo van der Goes, along with many more. It is also home to a number of key paintings from this era by French artists. For the first time, this area of the museum’s holdings will be systematically researched, with the outcomes informing the production of a critical inventory catalogue.

This catalogue project, which was initiated and overseen by Katrin Dyballa, was developed through a close, interdisciplinary collaboration between art historians and conservator-restorers. Each work was analysed with regards to its material production and current condition, as well as to its iconography and original function, its provenance, and the attribution of its authorship. The works were also investigated in terms of their later histories, for example conservation and restoration measures, copies, exhibition history, and the like. The inventory catalogue that has been produced through this process comprises a total of 52 entries on 71 individual paintings, and forms a scholarly foundation for future research in the field. Though many of the works studied here have been discussed in older literature, substantial new information has been revealed about the majority of them.  

Alongside Katrin Dyballa and conservator Sandra Stelzig, whose positions were financed for three years through funds from the DFG, numerous other specialists were involved in the project. On behalf of the Gemäldegalerie, the research project was overseen by curator Dr Stephan Kemperdick and head of conservation Dr Babette Hartwieg.

Katrin Dyballa, Stephan Kemperdick (eds.): Niederländische und französische Malerei 1400–1480: Kritischer Bestandskatalog, Petersberg (forthcoming).

Stephan Kemperdick: “Jan van Eyck’s Madonna in the Church and its Artistic Legacy”, in: Matthias Depoorter, Lieven van den Abeele (eds.): Van Eyck: An Optical Revolution (exh. cat. Museum voor Schoone Kunsten Gent, 1 February to 30 April 2020), Gent 2020, pp. 260–283.

Objectives and outcomes: Production of a critical collection inventory on early Netherlandish and French painting from 1400 to 1480 in the collection of the Gemäldegalerie of the Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin
Project overseen by: Gemäldegalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
Cooperation partner: Rathgen-Forschungslabor, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
Funded by: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation), Ernst von Siemens Kunststiftung
Lead researchers: Dr Katrin Dyballa (former research associate at the Gemäldegalerie, now curator at Bucerius Kunstforum, Hamburg), Dr Stephan Kemperdick (curator of German, Netherlandish, and French Paintings before 1600 at the Gemäldegalerie)
Project team: Dr des. Erik Eising (research associate at the Gemäldegalerie), Beatrix Graf (former conservator at the Gemäldegalerie), Dr Babette Hartwieg (head conservator at the Gemäldegalerie), Prof. Dr Peter Klein (wood biologist, formerly at Universität Hamburg), Bertram Lorenz (wood restorer at the Gemäldegalerie), Maria Reimelt (former conservator at the Gemäldegalerie), Dr Christine Seidel (former research associate at the Gemäldegalerie), Christoph Schmidt (technical photographer at ther Gemäldegalerie), Sandra Stelzig (paintings conservator at the Gemäldegalerie), Rainer Wendler (former wood restorer at the Gemäldegalerie), Anja Wolf (conservator at the Gemäldegalerie), Maria Zielke (former conservator at the Gemäldegalerie)
Project duration: 2016 to 2019 (manuscript completed in 2022, publication slated for early 2024)