The collection was first started under the government of Napoleon Bonaparte
(1769-1821) with the donation of 40 paintings from the Louvre
museum in Paris - and not as has been claimed a result of appropriations
from churches after the French Revolution. The idea was to share some
of the Louvre's surplus works with other cities for the educational purpose
of training artists and craftsmen. During the 1870 Franco-Prussian war
the collection was tragically destroyed by fire, with only one Corot painting
surviving. After the War, the emperor allocated a budget to Wilhelm
von Bode (1845-1929), an art expert, and tasked him to rebuild the
collection. The second major figure in the museum's history was Hans
Haug (1890-1965) who organised more donations from the Louvre, and
the purchase of La Belle Strasbourgeoise in 1963. While Largilliere
is not considered of equal greatness to say the still life virtuoso Jean
Chardin (16991779) or the great classicist Nicolas Poussin (1594-1665),
this particular work is highly valued for its beautiful treatment of colour,
mystery and poetry. Today the collection continues to grow. In the 1980s
and 1990s two Strasbourg citizens donated nearly 20 masterpieces to the
museum, including works by portraitist and caricaturist Giuseppe Crespi
(1665-1747), Marco Ricci (1676-1730), and Canaletto (16971768) who
is famed for his vedute or view paintings of Venice.
The museum displays works from nearly all significant European art
movements from Giotto to Courbet. The Italian schools from the 14th
to 16th century are included, with carefully chosen pieces from the Early
Renaissance. There are landscapes, still life and genre scenes from
the 17th century. The Spanish
Painting School is particularly well represented with masterpieces
by El Greco (15411614), Tenebrist and printmaker Jusepe Ribera (1591-1652)
and Goya (1746-1828). Some have argued that French
painting is less well represented, but this is partly due to the tragic
history of collection. Many larger historical, religious and mythological
works by French masters burned in the 1870 fire. Yet, there are significant
works from Baroque painter Simon Vouet (1590-1649), Philippe de Champaigne
(160274), Largillierre, Chardin, Corot and Romantic painter Theodore
Chasseriau (181956). There are also several examples of still
life painting by noted 17th century Dutch
- Madonna with Child and Two Angels by Sandro Botticelli.
- Polyptych of Vanity and Redemption Earth (1490) by Hans
- Saint Sebastian by Comegliano (c.1469-1517).
- Angel Bust (1480-5) by Filippino Lippi.
- The Myth of Prometheus (c.1510) by Piero
di Cosimo (1461/2-1521).
- View of the Church of the Salute from the Grand Canal (1727)
- The Betrothed (c.1525) by Lucas van Leyden (c.1494-1533).
- Departure for the Walk by Pieter de Hooch.
- Bethuel welcoming Abraham's Servant (c.1725) by Francois
- Plateau of Peaches with Walnuts, wine glass, knife (1758) by
- The Stable Copper by Jean-Antoine
- La Belle Strasbourgeoise (1703) by Nicolas de Largilliere.