W. A. Minderhout, Masque ball
Governor’s Palace, Brno, Moravia, Czech Republic
Moravian Gallery, Brno
About Moravian Gallery, Brno, Governor’s Palace, Brno
Willem Augustin Minderhout (1680, Antwerp-1752, Střílky)
Oil on canvas
H: 84 cm; w: 125 cm
An unframed decorative scene with fantastic architecture and a masquerade of noble company indicates that the canvas was part of an interior decoration, location as yet unknown. The central motif is an impressive open construction, an oval colonnaded hall merging into a park. The architecture – marble grooved columns decorated with sculptures, garlands and draperies – evokes an air of nonchalance with noble ladies and their cavaliers passing the time accompanied by music. The detailed attention dedicated to the figures lends emphasis to the spectacular nature of a picturesque scene. The theatrical overstatement of central perspective draws the viewer into an imaginary space, among comedia dell´arte actors, gallant couples, servants and musicians. These types of Schaustück (eye-pleasing) pictures represented a popular trend in the decoration of reception interiors, absorbing the viewer in their relationship between reality and illusion, not only in composition but also in the metaphors intrinsic to the costumes and mysterious masks. The motifs encourage the idea of unity in all of the arts and draw attention to the relationship between artificial and natural spaces.
In his masquerade pictures, Minderhout took up the tradition of morality scenes based on aristocratic society (banquets and gardens of love), probably inspired by the prints of Claude Gillot (1673–1722) featuring scenes from comedia dell´arte, and the work of Hendrick Govaerts (1669–1720) from Antwerp, active in Prague and Vienna in the period when theatre established itself as part of court life. Comedia dell´arte, originally considered a “low” genre, became very popular, inspiring a number of artists. The visual rendering of its scenes was essentially influenced by the Galli-Bibiena family, Vienna court decorators whose members and pupils worked for the Czech and Moravian nobility. Czech and Moravian aristocrats often went to performances in Vienna and cultivated theatre in their palaces.
A decorative scene with fantastic architecture and a masquerade indicates that the canvas was part of an interior decoration. The picture merges the Flemish tradition with late-baroque Italian painting in a highly original manner.
Moravian Gallery, Brno
The picture, origin unknown, was acquired in 1945.
The painting paraphrases pictures found in the Archiepiscopal Palace, Kroměříž. Willem Augustin Minderhout participated in the decoration of the palace halls under Cardinal Ferdinad Julius Troyer (1745–1758). The artist’s initials and the style of the painting place it as part of the relatively prolific work of this itinerant artist, frequently producing related pairs of pictures.
Zora Wörgötter, in Jiří Kroupa (ed), Dans le miroir des ombres. La Moravie a la age baroque 1760–1790, Brno–Paris–Rennes, 2002, pp. 111–113, cat. 16.
Andrea Rousová, Tance a slavnosti, Praha 2009, p., cat.
Zora Wörgötter "Masquarade I" in "Discover Baroque Art", Museum With No Frontiers, 2023. https://baroqueart.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?id=object;BAR;cz;Mus11;24;en
Prepared by: Zora WörgötterZora Wörgötter
AFFILIATION: Moravian Gallery in Brno
TITLE: Museum Curator and Local Co-ordinator
Zora Wörgötter studied Applied Painting at the Secondary School of Applied Arts, Video Art (Faculty of Fine Arts) at the University of Technology in Brno and Art History and Ethnology (Faculty of Arts) at Masaryk University, Brno. She has worked at the Moravian Gallery since 1997 and was curator of the Ancient Art Collection up until 2008. Specialising in Dutch and Central European painting of the 17th and 18th centuries, she has participated in the preparation of several exhibitions, catalogues and research projects in the Czech Republic and abroad, and published in the Moravian Gallery Bulletin, Opuscula historiae artium, and other journals. She is co-ordinator of the Art History Database www.ahice.net for the Czech Republic.
Copyedited by: Jiří KroupaJiří Kroupa
AFFILIATION: Department of the History of Art (Faculty of Arts) Masaryk
Professor Jiří Kroupa studied Art History, History and Sociology Masaryk University, Brno. He was a curator at the Kroměříž Museum and the Moravian Gallery in Brno before joining the staff at Masaryk University in 1988 (Head of the Department 1992–2002; Professor 1999 to present). His particular fields of interest are in the history of architecture, 18th-century cultural history and the methodology of art history. His long list of publications includes an edition on the architect Franz Anton Grimm and an essay “The alchemy of happiness: the Enlightenment in the Moravian context”. He was contributing editor for the volume Dans le miroir des ombres. Moravie a la age baroque. 1670–1790 (2002).
Translation by: Irma Charvátová
Translation copyedited by: Mandi GomezMandi Gomez
Amanda Gomez is a freelance copy-editor and proofreader working in London. She studied Art History and Literature at Essex University (1986–89) and received her MA (Area Studies Africa: Art, Literature, African Thought) from SOAS in 1990. She worked as an editorial assistant for the independent publisher Bellew Publishing (1991–94) and studied at Bookhouse and the London College of Printing on day release. She was publications officer at the Museum of London until 2000 and then took a role at Art Books International, where she worked on projects for independent publishers and arts institutions that included MWNF’s English-language editions of the books series Islamic Art in the Mediterranean. She was part of the editorial team for further MWNF iterations: Discover Islamic Art in the Mediterranean Virtual Museum and the illustrated volume Discover Islamic Art in the Mediterranean.
True to its ethos of connecting people through the arts, MWNF has provided Amanda with valuable opportunities for discovery and learning, increased her editorial experience, and connected her with publishers and institutions all over the world. More recently, the projects she has worked on include MWNF’s Sharing History Virtual Museum and Exhibition series, Vitra Design Museum’s Victor Papanek and Objects of Desire, and Haus der Kulturen der Welt’s online publication 2 or 3 Tigers and its volume Race, Nation, Class.
MWNF Working Number: CZ 25
On display in
Discover Baroque Art Exhibition(s)Travelling and Exoticism | Trade and cultural interaction Ephemera, Festivals and Theatrical Representation | “All the world is a stage”
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