BRONZE OF LIECHTENSTEIN
The collection of bronzes of the prince of Liechtenstein is arguably the most important one in private hands. Built up over four centuries it gives a complete overview of the great artistic movements of the Renaissance and the Baroque. It stands today in the Garden Palace of the Rossau in Vienna restored by the current prince and opened to the public in 2004.
This collection, never presented in France before, is the first of a series of exhibitions organized by the Galerie Kugel, dedicated to the great private collectors of our time. Its purpose is to show that it is still possible to build up a prestigious collection and hopefully encourage a new generation of collectors, the antique dealer being, in such cases, the necessary link between rare objects and the collector.
The reigning prince H.S.H. Hans Adam II von und zu Liechtenstein is the last of a long dynasty of great collectors. Prince Karl I von Liechtenstein (1569-1627), the founder of the dynasty was High Steward to the emperor Rudolf II, one of the greatest collectors of all time. Having close ties with the artists that the emperor had brought to Prague, Prince Karl commissioned them to create great masterpieces such as two life size bronzes by Adrian de Vries. His son, Prince Karl Eusebius (1611-1684), succeeded him at the age of 16 and decided to take a three years « Grand Tour » trip around Europe. He returned with great enthusiasm for Italian art and his inventory of 1658 lists an exceptional number of bronzes after Giambologna, mainly by Gian Francesco Susini. He passed on to his son his love of bronze and prince Johann Adam Andreas I (1657-1712) purchased in around 1700 a unique group of Florentine bronzes by Massimiliano Soldani. Subsequent members of the family continued collecting bronzes during the 18th and 19th century with major acquisition such as the Antico bust of a young man or the Bertoldo shield bearer. Finally a third of the 40 bronzes exhibited, was acquired during the last decade by the reigning prince H.S.H. Hans Adam II von und zu Liechtenstein. Today he is one of the most active collectors in the world, but each potential acquisition is considered in the light of his family collection, with the aim of perpetuating the taste, the connoisseurship and the paramount quality displayed in the collection built up by his ancestors.
The display of the exhibition at the galerie Kugel recalled the spirit of the great sculpture collectors of the “Grand siècle”.