NEWS | 17. 5. 2018 In the Archdiocesan Museum today begins a unique exhibition Drawings of Old Masters from the collection of the Archbishopric of Olomouc.

NEWS | 17. 5. 2018

With its mere 67 preserved drawings, the collection of old drawing represents the least numerous of all the collections of the Archiepiscopal Castle in Kroměříž. Despite its being only a fragment of the original extensive collection, thanks to its historical continuity and extraordinary artistic quality, it is recognised as equivalent to the famous Kroměříž collection of paintings. 

The first acquisitions are related to Bishop Karl II von Lichtenstein-Castelcorno (1664–1695), who, in 1673, bought rare works of art from the brothers Franz and Bernard Imstenraed, art dealers from Cologne. A part of the Imstenraed picture collection came from the collections of the beheaded King of England, Charles I (1625–1649) and Thomas Howard, Earl of Arundel (1585–1646). 

Italian drawings from the 16th century and the first half of the 17th century predominate in the collection. It features nearly all major centres of Italian art at that time – Rome, Florence, Siena, Bologna, and Venice. There are works by renowned artists such as Giovanni Bellini, Sebastiano del Piombo and Giulio Romano. An integral part of the collection is a set of contemporary copies. Especially the copies of destroyed paintings are of considerable value, such as three sheets with the details of the decoration of Palazzo Milesi in Rome by Polidoro da Caravaggio. Transalpine drawings from the period around 1500 constitute a minor part of the collection. As far as the themes are concerned, there are exclusively figural motifs and the artistic methods used include almost all kinds of drawing, from sketches (pensiero, primo pensiero) and study drawings (studio, schizzo) to final drawings (disegno). 

Due to their fragile nature, such rare works on paper are usually displayed for limited periods of time only and in strict light conditions, or, alternatively, facsimiles are displayed. The Kroměříž collection was presented to the public more than twenty years ago for the first time. Recently it has been professionally assessed and a catalogue including all the works has been published; part of the collection underwent extensive restoration. Thus the exhibition in Olomouc presents a unique opportunity to see this precious collection in the full extent.