Opening times

Museum, boutique and bistro

Tu – We 10:00 - 17:00

Th 10:00 - 19:00

Fr – Su 10:00 - 17:00

Library

Tu – We, Fr 10:00 - 18:00

Th 10:00 - 19:00

Sa – Mo closed

Special opening times

Su, 10/30/2022 10:00 - 17:00, Family Day

Mo, 12/19/2022 closed

Tu, 12/20/2022 10:00 - 17:00

We, 12/21/2022 10:00 - 17:00

Th, 12/22/2022 10:00 - 19:00

Fr, 12/23/2022 10:00 - 17:00

Sa, 12/24/2022 10:00 - 14:00, Christmas Eve

Su, 12/25/2022 10:00 - 17:00, Christmas

Mo, 12/26/2022 10:00 - 17:00, St. Stephen´s Day

Tu, 12/27/2022 10:00 - 17:00

We, 12/28/2022 10:00 - 17:00

Th, 12/29/2022 10:00 - 19:00

Fr, 12/30/2022 10:00 - 17:00

Sa, 12/31/2022 10:00 - 17:00

Su, 1/1/2023 10:00 - 17:00, New Year´s Day

Mo, 1/2/2023 10:00 - 17:00, Saint Berchtold

Show all

Opening times

Museum, boutique and bistro

Tu – We 10:00 - 17:00

Th 10:00 - 19:00

Fr – Su 10:00 - 17:00

Library

Tu – We, Fr 10:00 - 18:00

Th 10:00 - 19:00

Sa – Mo closed

Special opening times

Su, 10/30/2022 10:00 - 17:00, Family Day

Mo, 12/19/2022 closed

Tu, 12/20/2022 10:00 - 17:00

We, 12/21/2022 10:00 - 17:00

Th, 12/22/2022 10:00 - 19:00

Fr, 12/23/2022 10:00 - 17:00

Sa, 12/24/2022 10:00 - 14:00, Christmas Eve

Su, 12/25/2022 10:00 - 17:00, Christmas

Mo, 12/26/2022 10:00 - 17:00, St. Stephen´s Day

Tu, 12/27/2022 10:00 - 17:00

We, 12/28/2022 10:00 - 17:00

Th, 12/29/2022 10:00 - 19:00

Fr, 12/30/2022 10:00 - 17:00

Sa, 12/31/2022 10:00 - 17:00

Su, 1/1/2023 10:00 - 17:00, New Year´s Day

Mo, 1/2/2023 10:00 - 17:00, Saint Berchtold

Show all

Baroque. Age of Contrasts

National Museum Zurich | 16.9.2022 - 15.1.2023
published on 14.9.2022

Opulence and innovation on the one hand, death and crisis on the other: the Baroque was an age of great contrasts, and it left a legacy that survives to this day. In this year’s major autumn exhibition, the National Museum Zurich explores this era in depth.

For most people, the term “Baroque” conjures up images of magnificent churches and masterpieces of fine art, and extravagant monarchs living in sumptuous palaces. But there was much more to this period of approximately 200 years, between 1580 and 1780, than its reputation for splendour and excess would suggest. The Baroque was an age of extremes, with dark and tragic aspects. The grandeur and excess was juxtaposed against a background of ongoing religious wars, colonisation and squalor.

The Thirty Years’ War and the Counter-Reformation were largely responsible for the rift within society. These conflicts evolved increasingly into a protracted struggle for power in Central Europe. This strife not only determined religious life and the political system in Europe, but also brought with it profound societal, economic and cultural changes. In this sea of contrasts, science and culture developed and transformed rapidly, leaving their mark on an increasingly interconnected and globalised world. The Swiss Confederation was a significant part of these diverse interrelationships. The region’s inhabitants adopted numerous trends in fashion, garden culture and interior design. And Swiss architects such as Ticino native Francesco Borromini, who worked mostly in Rome, had a hand in spreading the Baroque style further afield, designing important buildings throughout Europe.

The exhibition at the National Museum in Zurich shines a spotlight on this fascinating age, and reveals that the Confederation was an active part of this global epoch including, on many occasions, leading the way with new ideas and innovations. The show also looks at how, even today, elements of Baroque culture still shape our society – on the dinner table and in the garden, for example. Beautiful objects from Baroque architecture, garden culture, fashion and art illustrate the opulence and elegance of the era, without losing sight of their historical context.

Images

From near and afar

During the age of Baroque, the still life became a genre in its own right. Artfully arranged gold and silverware, Venetian glass, oriental fabrics, and fine Chinese porcelain bear witness to the collecting and trading interests of the time. Simon Luttichuys (ascribed to), still life, 1650–1680, oil on canvas.

Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Europe as battlefield

Religious differences triggered the Thirty Years’ War. It was to be the most momentous event of the Baroque era. Mercenaries plundered and murdered; the civilian population suffered hunger and disease. Philips Wouwerman, battle (of Nördlingen), 1665–1668, oil on canvas.

bpk / Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen

New worldview

European expansion gave rise to a growing interest in cartography. The elaborate maps were not only a significant asset for maritime voyages but also – now assembled in valuable atlases – as sought-after collectibles. Pieter Goos, Zee-atlas ofte waterwereld […], Amsterdam, 1676, copperplate, coloured.

Utrecht University Library

Baroque culture of collecting

At no other time was collecting pursued with such intensity. In princely and bourgeois art collections and cabinets of curiosities with their sundry and spectacular objects and works, the knowledge of the world was amassed, presented, explored, and discussed. Cornelis I. de Baellieur, gallery of a collector, around 1640, oil on wood.

Privatsammlung, Dauerleihgabe an LIECHTENSTEIN. The Princely Collections, Vaduz-Vienna, Inv.-Nr. G 28 © LIECHTENSTEIN. The Princely Collections, Vaduz–Vienna

Instructive and moving

Ticino-born Giovanni Serodine (1594/1600–1630) was a pioneer of early Baroque sacred art. Lavishly ornamented Baroque churches and religious paintings serve as visual instruments of the Christian faith. Giovanni Serodine, Vergine dei Mercedari, around 1625–1627, oil on.

Pinacoteca cantonale Giovanni Züst, Rancate (Mendrisio), Cantone Ticino, Svizzera (Foto: Roberto Pellegrini)

Histoire du Roi

This tapestry depicts an event during talks in relation to the Treaty of the Pyrenees, and the proposed marriage of Louis XIV and the Spanish Infanta. The hall was designed specially for the meeting. Charles Le Brun, Entrevue de Philippe IV et Louis XIV, Manufacture des Gobelins, Paris, 1668, tapestry (high warp), silk, wool, gold thread.

(Collection du) Mobilier national, Paris, Philippe Sébert

Views of Rome

Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720–1778) produced imposing views of Baroque Rome. Many of its most important monuments, such as the obelisk in Piazza del Popolo, trace back to Domenico Fontana. Giovanni Battista Piranesi, Veduta della Piazza del Popolo, sheet from

ETH-Bibliothek Zürich, Graphische Sammlung

Precious items from the Ocean

Going back to the 16th century, magnificently decorated nautilus cups were highly sought-after objects in cabinets of art and curiosities. The nymph poised on the nautilus points to the area of Indo-Pacific as find-place. Nautilus cup, Melchior Maria Müller, Zug, around 1670–1680, mother-of-pearl, silver, gilded in parts.

Swiss National Museum

Exotic Silk

This Swiss-owned, elaborate silk mantua is strikingly decorated with Chinoiseries. The fabric came from the Netherlands where manufacturers specialized in orientally inspired textiles that were exported across Europe. Mantua, 1730–1750, silk.

Swiss National Museum

Spanish court dress

Under Archduchess Maria Anna, the hooped skirt called guardainfante became iconic thanks to the portraits of court painter Diego Velázquez (1599–1660). It developed out of the French and Spanish hooped skirt and testifies to the lively exchange between the two courts. Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez and workshop, Archduchess Maria Anna, queen of Spain, 1652–1653, oil on canvas.

Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien, Gemäldegalerie, photo: KHM-Museumsverband

A view of the exhibition.

© Swiss National Museum

A view of the exhibition.

© Swiss National Museum

A view of the exhibition.

© Swiss National Museum

A view of the exhibition.

© Swiss National Museum

A view of the exhibition.

© Swiss National Museum

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