Name of Object:

Masquarade I


Governor’s Palace, Brno, Moravia, Czech Republic

Holding Museum:

Moravian Gallery, Brno

 About Moravian Gallery, Brno, Governor’s Palace, Brno

Date of Object:

c. 1740

Artist(s) / Craftsperson(s):

Willem Augustin Minderhout (1680, Antwerp-1752, Střílky)

Museum Inventory Number:

Z 1228

Material(s) / Technique(s):

Oil on canvas


H: 84 cm; w: 125 cm

Type of object:


Place of production:



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.

View Short Description

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.

Current Owner:

Moravian Gallery, Brno

How date and origin were established:

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.

How Object was obtained:

The picture, origin unknown, was acquired in 1945.

Selected bibliography:

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.

Citation of this web page:

Zora Wörgötter "Masquarade I" in "Discover Baroque Art", Museum With No Frontiers, 2023.;BAR;cz;Mus11;24;en

Prepared by: Zora Wörgötter
Copyedited by: Jiří Kroupa
Translation by: Irma Charvátová
Translation copyedited by: Mandi Gomez

MWNF Working Number: CZ 25