Once Upon a True European Spirit

This first monographic exhibition on Hans von Aachen will be shown in three cities, with small variations at each venue: in Aachen (Suermondt-Ludwig-Museum,), where his family hailed from, in Prague, where he reached the height of his fame; and in Vienna, where the most important collection of his paintings is now kept. Together, these three museums will show the most important of his works as an example of cultural transfer in Europe in the Early Modern Age. The art of Hans von Aachen displays a unique mix of different stylistic traits of European painting at the time of the late Renaissance: Italian extravagance meets Flemish realism. From large, dramatic altarpieces painted on linen and humoristic representations of everyday life, through elegant portraits, to small, refined scenes on copper or alabaster. The exhibition will not only reveal extraordinary works of art, but also an extraordinary man. Hans von Aachen traveled throughout Europe, as a student, as a master painter, as an art dealer and as a diplomat. Three years after the death of the court artist, the art and culture of the Renaissance in Central Europe was lost amidst the troubles and violence of the Thirty Years´ War – and with it the artistic inheritance of Hans von Aachen. For a long time, art history was not able to bring this sunken treasure back to the surface. In part, this was because art history was mainly focused at the national level, and Hans von Aachen’s art and life never kept to borders His life’s story is not only that of a gifted artist, but also of a true European.