The Master of Messkirch Catholic Splendour during the Reformation Large State Exhibition

21 February 2018 – 01 April 2018
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The Staatsgalerie Stuttgart is devoting a comprehensive monographic exhibition to one of the most important German painters of the early modern period: the Master of Messkirch. The show will be the first to unite his panel paintings and drawings, which are scattered among museums and private
collections in Europe and the U.S.

The paintings by the Master of Messkirch – among them the extensive altar cycle of 1535/38 from the Church of St Martin in Messkirch – are exceptional in their colouration. Yet their fascination also derives from the fact that they document regional adherence to the Roman Catholic faith in an era when the Reformation was taking hold throughout most of Württemberg. A chief aim of the Large State Exhibition will be to spark a new awareness of this master’s art-historical significance. Not only was he among the earliest painters of the Catholic Reform, but in his panel paintings he also anticipated all the stylistic  devices that would later come to characterize Counter-Reformational art in the age of Confessionalization.

A key work of explicitly Reformational iconography is the so-called Gotha panel altar from the workshop of Heinrich Füllmaurer, which will be on view in our exhibition thanks to cooperation with the Stiftung Schloss Friedenstein Gotha. Executed around 1538 for Ulrich, Duke of Württemberg, this winged altarpiece displays an unequalled wealth of imagery in 160 individual depictions. In the framework of our show, it will be returning to its originally intended location – Stuttgart – for the first time in more than 350 years. With its blunt attacks on Roman Catholic pictorial conceptions, it is especially significant against the background of the imagery debate conducted so heatedly during the Reformation.

To help viewers gain a better understanding of these works’ contents, the exhibition will address previous cultural-historical phenomena such as the radical questioning of the pictorial image by a number of reformers, or the practices of the iconoclasts. At the same time, it will feature representative works from the various areas of Reformation art, which responded to the new confessional circumstances by secularizing Christian themes and desensualizingimagery with the aid of didactic or polemic text commentaries.
In cooperation with Stiftung Schloss Friedenstein Gotha Encompassing nearly 200 objects, the exhibition will shed light on the arthistorical impact of the Master of Messkirch and – along with works by artists such as Albrecht Altdorfer, Hans Baldung Grien, Lucas Cranach the Elder andAlbrecht Dürer – place his oeuvre in the context of its time.

The Large State Exhibition is being carried out under the patronage of Winfried Kretschmann, Minister-President of the State of Baden Württemberg.


State Gallery Stuttgart
Konrad-Adenauer-Straße 30-32
70173 Stuttgart

Phone: +49 (0)711 470 40 0
Fax: +49 (0)711 236 99 83


State Gallery Stuttgart
Konrad-Adenauer-Straße 30-32
70173 Stuttgart

Phone: +49 (0)711 470 40 0
Fax: +49 (0)711 236 99 83

Dates & prices

  • 21.02.2018
  • 22.02.2018
  • 23.02.2018
  • 24.02.2018
  • 25.02.2018
  • 27.02.2018
  • 28.02.2018
  • 01.03.2018
  • 02.03.2018
  • Show more dates

situation & arrival


State Gallery Stuttgart

Konrad-Adenauer-Straße 30-32, 70173 Stuttgart

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