On Tuesday evening, 31. October, Lord Mayor Mike Josef was able to take a first look at the "Holbein Madonna", which is once again on display in Frankfurt for the major exhibition "Holbein and the Renaissance in the North". The famous painting "The Madonna of Mayor Jacob Meyer zum Hasen" (1526-1528) by Hans Holbein the Younger is one of the greatest masterpieces of the German Renaissance. On loan from the Würth Collection, it will be on display at the Städel Museum from Thursday, November 2, together with around 180 other works of art.
The exhibition at the Städel Museum presents an impressive panorama of Renaissance painting, which began in Italy and developed into something completely new in northern Europe. The painters Hans Holbein the Elder and Hans Burgkmair are regarded as pioneers of this unique art, but it was ultimately none other than Hans Holbein the Younger who made this art known throughout Europe.
The Städel Museum has been an art institution in the city for more than 200 years. Founded by Frankfurt citizen Johann Friedrich Städel "for the benefit of the city and its citizens", it is today one of the oldest museum foundations in Germany, supported by the citizens of the city. Mayor Mike Josef emphasized at the opening of the exhibition: "The Städel is one of the most renowned cultural institutions in our city. It is firmly rooted in Frankfurt and stands for so much: for art, culture, great civic engagement and art education for all social groups."
Städel Director Philipp Demandt said: "The City of Frankfurt and the Städel Museum have a long and successful history together. It is a special pleasure and honor that Lord Mayor Josef opened our major exhibition on Renaissance painting in the north. The public can look forward to an extraordinary show, which brings together around 180 important works of art from the leading international museum collections in Frankfurt and, as a highlight, also allows a reunion with the 'Holbein Madonna'."
Just as the history of the Städel Museum going back over 200 years is a remarkable tradition of civic engagement, the reunion with the Holbein Madonna, probably the most prominent exhibit in the exhibition, is also a lesson in the special commitment of Städel Director Philipp Demandt and his team, emphasized the head of the city.
Painted by Hans Holbein the Younger in Basel from 1526, the "Holbein Madonna" had been in the possession of the Grand Dukes of Hesse since the first half of the 19th century and was on display in the Schlossmuseum Darmstadt until 2003, before being exhibited in the Städel Museum from 2004. In 2009, the owners decided to sell the painting. Despite the joint efforts of the owners and the Städel Museum, it was not possible for the Städel Museum to acquire the painting or secure it for the public.
The painting, which is on the list of nationally valuable cultural assets and thus protected from export, was subsequently acquired by the entrepreneur, collector and patron Reinhold Würth, who has made it accessible to the public in the Johanniterkirche in Schwäbisch Hall since 2012. Lord Mayor Josef said: "In a way, this return closes a circle. The City of Frankfurt owes both Reinhold Würth and the Städel Directorate a great debt of gratitude that we can now see and experience this masterpiece of German Renaissance painting again in Frankfurt."
Further information on the Städel Museum and the current exhibition can be found at staedelmuseum.de on the Internet.