Hans Makart’s Abundantia
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam
17 November 2012 – 31 March 2013
This autumn Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen is showcasing Hans Makart’s phenomenal work ‘Abundantia’. Measuring 1.5 by 4.5 metres, this large canvas is the focal point of a presentation that occupies two galleries, accompanied by a selection of paintings, photos, sculptures, prints and drawings from the 16th century to the present day that explores themes such as abundance and fertility.
This special loan from the Ger Eenens Collection is impressive for its size and the swirling composition of warm colours against a golden backdrop. Hans Makart painted the composition in 1870 for the dining room of a palatial mansion on Vienna’s Ring. The central figure is Abundantia – the personification of abundance and fertility – surrounded by the ‘Gifts of the Earth’, such as flowers, fruit and animals. Alongside this loaned masterpiece, Museum
Boijmans Van Beuningen is presenting complementary examples of painting, drawing and printmaking dating from the 16th to the 19th century, with works by artists such as Paulus Moreelse and Michelangelo Cerquozzi. The exhibition also includes a photo series by the contemporary photographer Sharon Lockhart, as well as sculptures by Paul McCarthy and
Boris van Berkum. Key to this selection was the subject matter of Makart’s painting.
Hans Makart (1840-1884) was regarded as the Andy Warhol of his time, though his fame quickly faded after his death. A predecessor of Gustav Klimt, the artist stamped his mark on Vienna’s sophisticated milieus, to such an extent that this period has become known as the ‘Makart-Zeit’. Visitors paid a fee to visit his studio and it served as a venue for exclusive parties. Makart’s renown extended far beyond Austria’s borders and his paintings made extensive tours to European and American cities. For example, between 1871 and 1880 ‘Abundantia’ was shown in Berlin, Leipzig, New York, Philadelphia, Amsterdam, London and elsewhere.
‘Abundantia’ caused quite a sensation in Viennese circles and Makart painted several versions of the work. Some of these were executed by his studio, but the canvas in the Ger Eenens Collection is regarded as autograph. Other versions are to be found in the Musée d’Orsay in Paris and the Salzburg Museum.