06 March – 18 October 2009
"DAS GLÜCK DIESER ERDE...". The horse as a courtly motif in art
L. de Witte, Stable-Boy with Black and White Stallion, 1st half of 18th C.
The museum of contemporary art in Vaduz mounts regularly special exhibitions of works from the Private Collections of the Prince of Liechtenstein and in doing so spans a bridge to the world of the Old Masters.
Horse breeding was an important source of economic and socio-political prestige for the House of Liechtenstein, especially as of the 16th century. Horses from Liechtenstein were much sought after for use in exchange for works of art, they were popular as diplomatic gifts and in this connection – solely from a material viewpoint – were of great value. In their hey-day, the studs in Eisgrub, Feldsberg and Lundenburg had between 600 and 800 animals, including working horses, most of them valuable thoroughbreds which were prized above all for their strength.
The high standing of the horse can also be seen in the Princely Collections. Johann Georg and Philipp Ferdinand von Hamilton captured the unmistakable Liechtenstein horses in almost life-size, and many of the House’s rulers had themselves portrayed on horseback. L. de Witte highlighted the beauty of the horses in precious small painted copper panels, almost like miniatures; the great pride of the horses’ owners is evident, as is the considerable effort invested in caring for them.
The exhibition at the Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein showcases the many and varied depictions of the horse in the Princely Collections. Paintings, sculptures and prints communicate the great passion of the princely family for fine horses. These works of art bear striking witness to the past, and their close observation enables us to estimate the meaning these noble animals used to have.
The exhibition “Das Glück dieser Erde …” is organised by the Liechtenstein Museum in Vienna, and curated by Dr. Johann Kräftner, Director of the Princely Collections, Vaduz and the Liechtenstein Museum, Vienna.
Jan Fyt, Groom with two Horses and Hounds, 1640/1645
Giovanni Francesco Susini, Striding Horse, 1st half of 17th C.
L. de Witte, Portrait of Salomon Alapy in the Uniform of the Hussars, 1st half of 18th C.