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italian & spanish paintings


Virtuoso treatment of light and shadows

The Suermondt Ludwig Museum and the museums in munich, Berlin and Dresden are the only four museums in Gemany that possess spanish paintings.


Francisco de zurbarán | c. 1640

St. Francis in Prayer


the virgin mary in prayer

Spanish school | 2nd half 16th century

Christ carrying the cross

c. 1640 – 1650

Male portrait,

From Tintoretto to Zurbarán

In the late 16th century, Rome, Florence and Venice ranked as Italy's most important centres of art. It was from there that, through painters like Raphael, Titian, Annibale Carracci and Michelangelo da Caravaggio, significant impulses for the stylistic change of art in Europe emanated. Giovanni Salvi (Il Sassoferrato), for example, mainly oriented himself in his compositions to Raphael, while Tintoretto in his portraiture picked up on Titian's Venetian type of painting by depicting a person in dark clothing against a neutral grey background. But above all, it was Caravaggio, with his dramatic use of light and shadow(s) (tenebrismo), who inspired and influenced the subsequent generation of Baroque painters. His follower Bartolomeo Manfredi is still hailed today as one of the most prominent figures of international Caravaggism. The Spanish artist Jusepe de Ribera, who lived in Naples, carried this style onwards, indirectly influencing his compatriot Francisco de Zurbarán, who was working under contract for rigidly pious monastic orders. In counter-reformist Spain, his penchant for religious subjects attracted great interest among his predominantly ecclesiastical clients. Unlike in the northern provinces of the Netherlands, the middle classes in Spain played hardly any role as clients or buyers of art. Particularly Zurbarán’s depictions of St Francis, of whom he painted over 50 versions, distinguish him as a truly virtuoso master of light and shadows.

Andreas Von Schepeler (1780-1849) – a major collector of spanish art

The majority of the Spanish paintings in the Suermondt Ludwig Museum come from the internationally renowned 19th-century collection of Colonel Andreas Daniel Berthold von Schepeler, a German officer who was active as a diplomat, historian, military theorist, man of letters and art collector. He possessed one of the most important collections of paintings, especially of Spanish and Dutch art. He did his own collecting personally in Spain between 1815 and 1832. Most of the items came from the holdings of noble families who were forced to sell their art collections after the revolution in Spain. In 1852, three years after Schepeler's death, Barthold Suermondt bought his collection, which numbered around 150 paintings. Many of these are now located in the former Suermondt Collection in Berlin, to which Suermondt himself was forced to sell the first part of his collection in 1874. But several important works have remained in Aachen, for example Christ Carrying the Cross.