Images of Peace

The exhibition “Images of Peace in Europe, 1450–1815” sheds light not only on the development of the iconography of peace, but also on the history of prominent European art collections. The graphic arts exhibition gallery is presenting some seventy works from the Staatsgalerie’s Department of Prints, Drawings and Photographs, with a chief emphasis on depictions in prints of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. These superb works are enhanced by numerous antique coins and modern medals from the coin collection of the Landesmuseum Württemberg, illustrated books on peace congresses and treaties from the Württembergische Landesbibliothek, documents of peace diplomacy from the Staatsarchiv Stuttgart, and illustrations of the Congress of Vienna from the Stadtarchiv Stuttgart. Structured chronologically and by iconographic subject, the exhibition aims to make the theme of peace visible to the public in emblems, symbols, allegories, depictions of events and pictorial reports.
Peace has been a subject of art since antiquity. Apart from personifications of peace on Roman coins, the closing of the Temple of Janus long remained a widely popular pictorial motif as a metaphor for the conclusion of peace. The exhibition focuses on peace agreements in history and event paintings, in pictorial reports in chronicles, and not least of all in extremely humorous caricatures of English as well as German origin. Peace agreements were spectacular media events. Artists bore witness to negotiations, claiming in the process to be illustrating historical reality; yet they also charmingly interpreted peace in allegorical form. There are striking –and highly diverse – examples in the print media of Early Modern times, for example engraved allegorical frontispieces, almanacs, pictorial reports in chronicles and portraits of envoys at peace conferences. At the same time, medals testify to the locations of peace settlements, for example Münster and Nuremberg.