The 19th Century Rediscovered
Victor Emil Janssen (1807 - 1845), Selbstbildnis vor der Staffelei, um 1828, © Hamburger Kunsthalle / bpk Foto: Elke Walford

The Hamburger Kunsthalle invites you to discover the fascinating world of the 19th century from the vantage point of the “Hamburg School”. The exhibition looks at the arts in 19th-century Hamburg and the fortunes of the artists active in the city. Some 120 paintings, drawings and works of graphic art, including a number of major works by the featured artists, will offer a representative overview of an entire century of artistic practice in Hamburg.  

Since Hamburg had no art academy, aspiring painters had to travel elsewhere to do their training and perfect their technical skills. Prime destinations for Hamburg artists included the art academies in Copenhagen, Dresden, Munich and Düsseldorf. At the same time, horizons were opening up for them to the north and south, with study trips to Scandinavia and Italy exerting a lasting influence. The exhibition examines the artists’ productive encounters with these places and shows how the new experiences continued to have an impact on their work even after their return to the Hanseatic city.

Featured are the main protagonists on Hamburg’s art scene over the course of an entire century, alongside artists who spent significant parts of their career in the city, among them Philipp Otto Runge, Erwin Speckter, Jacob Gensler, Valentin Ruths and Thomas Herbst. The show spans an arc from works produced around 1800 under the sway of Classicism and Romanticism, to realistic tendencies starting in the 1820s, culminating in the gradual emergence of the avant-garde in the last third of the 19th century, represented by examples of Naturalism, Impressionism and Art Nouveau. Alongside the more established artists, many figures will be brought to light who have been unjustly forgotten.

The exhibition is a cooperative project with the Art History Seminar at the University of Hamburg on the occasion of a double anniversary: 2019 marks 150 years since the founding of the Kunsthalle as well as the university’s centenary. 

Curator: Dr. Markus Bertsch
Sponsored by: Hubertus Wald Stiftung, Philipp Otto Runge Stiftung, Ministry of Culture and Media Hamburg