Cologne Art Gallery: History, Collection Highlights.


Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, Cologne


Introduction and Collection Highlights
Permanent Collection
Important Works
Graphics Collection
Contact Details

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Introduction and Collection Highlights

One of the best museums in Europe, the Wallraf-Richartz-Museum in Cologne ranks alongside the finest picture galleries in Germany, with a collection containing hundreds of European paintings and prints from the 13th to early 20th century. In particular, it's collection of German Gothic art is one of the best in the world. The star attraction is Madonna of the Rose Bower (c.1440–42) by Stefan Lochner (1400/1410–51), which as been dubbed the "Mona Lisa of Cologne". Other highlights include works by Baroque masters Rembrandt (1606-69), Sir Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640), Bartolome Esteban Murillo (1617-82) and French Rococo artist Francois Boucher (1703-70). There are works of 19th century German art, as well as paintings by French Realists and Impressionists. The museum has one of the widest collections of French Impressionism and Neo-Impressionism in Germany, including works by Edouard Manet (1832-83), Claude Monet (1840-1926), Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919), Berthe Morisot (1841–1895), Paul Signac (1863–1935) as well as Paul Cezanne (1839-1906), Vincent Van Gogh (1853-90), Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947), painter and printmaker James Ensor (1860-1949) and Symbolist Edvard Munch (1863-1944).

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In 1824 Ferdinand Franz Wallraf, a Cologne canon and professor bequeathed his extensive art collection to the city. In 1854 another local wealthy citizen, JH Richartz donated enough money to buy a building suitable for housing the collection. In 1943 the museum was destroyed during a bombing raid, but fortunately most of the collection was saved. Subsequently it was re-housed several times, but in 2001 it found a permanent home in its present location at Obenmarspforten. The new sleek modern building was designed by local award winning architect Mathias Ungers (1926-2007).

Permanent Collection

The exhibits, comprising several different types of art, are divided into three main categories which are split between levels within the museum. The lowest level displays paintings from the Middle Ages, notably panel paintings from the Cologne School of painting (1350-1550). The second level of the museum displays Renaissance art along with works from the Baroque era, while the third level is dedicated to 19th century paintings and sculpture. Among the many precious works owned by the museum, is the illuminated Book of Hours of Sophia von Bylant (1475) which contains illustration by the Cologne Master of the Bartholomew Altar, who despite his anonymity, is one of the most famous artists of the early German Renaissance period.

Important Paintings

Madonna of the Rose Bush (1440-2) by Stefan Lochner.
Considered a late Gothic-Painter, Lochner painted with brilliant colours and displayed a Flemish attention to detail and realism.
Piper and Drummer (c.1503) by Albrecht Durer.
Leading figure of the German Renaissance.
Juno and Argus (c.1610) by Peter Paul Rubens.
Foremost painter of the Catholic Counter-Reformation.
Self-Portrait (c.1668) by Rembrandt van Rijn.
Arguably the greatest portraitist in the history of art.
Resting Girl (Marie-Louise O'Murphy) (1751) by Francois Boucher.
Rococo artist known for his voluptuous paintings.
The Couple (Les Fiances) (c.1868) by Impressionist Renoir.
Master of landscape, portraiture and voluptuous plein-air female nudes.
The Bleaching Ground (1882) by Max Liebermann.
German Impressionist painter.
The Drawbridge (1888) by Vincent van Gogh.
Pioneer expressionist painter.
Capo di Noli (1898) by Paul Signac.
French Neo-Impressionist who helped to develop the pointillism.
Girls on a Pier (1905) by Edvard Munch.
Norwegian Symbolist printmaker and painter.
Water Lilies (Nympheas) (c.1915/17) by Claude Monet.
Leader of French Impressionism.

Graphics Collection

The museum has over 75,000 pieces in their Graphic collection, the origins of which can be traced back to the mid 16th century. It includes collections of drawing, mediaeval miniatures, watercolours, as well as sketch books and portfolios from various artists including: Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519); the Mannerist painters Andrea del Sarto (1486-1531) and Pontormo (1494–1557); the Dutch master of etching and drypoint Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-69); pioneer of the Romantic movement Theodore Gericault (1791-1824); Neo-classicist J.A.D. Ingres (1780-1867), and the Belgian symbolist James Ensor (1860-1949); as well as, Munch, Liebermann and Lovis Corinth. For those who wish to see specific works in the collection, the museum can arrange this by appointment.



Contact Details

Obenmarspforten (at Kolner Rathaus/Townhall)
D- 50667 Cologne


+49 (0) 221 221-21119

Opening Hours
Tuesday to Sunday: 10am to 6pm
Open Late on Thursday to 9pm

• For details of more galleries in Germany, see: Best Art Museums.
• For more details about German painting & sculpture, see: Homepage.

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