Jakob, Franz and Rudolf von Alt on view through January at the Albertina Museum in Vienna
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Jakob, Franz and Rudolf von Alt on view through January at the Albertina Museum in Vienna
Franz Alt, Das Alte Kärntnertortheater, 1873. watercolor. The Albertina Museum, Vienna.

VIENNA.- This exhibition features treasures from the Albertina Museum’s own holdings that impressively document the Alt family painters’ great importance in the context of 19th-century art, and is currently on view at the ALBERTINA Museum since 9 November 2022 - and will continue until 29 January 2023.

The artworks created by members of the Alt family number among the masterpieces of Austrian watercolor painting. Rooted in Biedermeier-era Vienna, their output proceeded to follow the grand arc of cultural history through to the dawn of modernism. They revolve around themes such as architecture and landscape, urban life and natural beauty.

This family of painters included Jakob Alt (1789–1872) and his sons Rudolf (1812–1905) and Franz (1821–1914). Jakob Alt left his home city of Frankfurt am Main to settle in Vienna in 1810. He supported his family by producing series of printed graphics showing townscapes and landscapes. Rudolf Alt—who was ennobled at an advanced age and has therefore been known as Rudolf von Alt since 1897—and his younger brother Franz learned the art of watercolor from their father. They eventually began collaborating as equal partners.

Both brothers attained a high level of virtuosity and expressivity as watercolorists. Franz enjoyed unparalleled esteem during his lifetime, especially in Vienna’s aristocratic circles. Rudolf, for his part, lived a long and productive life that led him to originate ever-new solutions and tours de force in watercolor painting all the way into the early 20th century.

The year 1776 saw Duke Albert of Saxe-Teschen begin assembling a graphic arts collection that, in 1919, would be taken over by the Austrian state together with the palace that housed it as a museum for art ranging from Renaissance masterpieces to contemporary works.

Today’s ALBERTINA museum is deliberately positioned as something of a Janus-faced institution: the renovated and authentically re-furnished staterooms stand for the princely lifestyle once maintained at this former Habsburg residence, while the ALBERTINA museums large-scale temporary exhibitions plus its permanent presentation of modernist and contemporary paintings attest to its character as a thoroughly modern museum.

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