Alte Pinakothek

The Alte Pinakothek (Engl. Old Pinakothek) is an art museum situated in the Kunstareal in Munich, Germany. It is one of the oldest galleries in the world and houses one of the most famous collections of Old Master paintings. The name (old Pinakothek) alludes to the time period covered by the art — the Neue Pinakothek covers 19th century art and the recently opened Pinakothek der Moderne exhibits modern art, all galleries are part of Munich's "Kunstareal" (the "art area"). The museum is part of the Bavarian State Picture Collection (German: Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen), an organization of the Free state of Bavaria.

The building

King Ludwig I of Bavaria (1825-1848) ordered Leo von Klenze to erect a new building for the gallery for the Wittelsbach collection in 1826. The museum galleries were designed to display Rubens's "Last Judgment" (1617), one of the largest canvasses ever painted. Very modern in its day, the building became exemplary for museum buildings in Germany and all of Europe after its inauguration in 1836, and thus became a model for new galleries in Rome, St Petersburg, Brussels and Kassel.

The museum building was severely damaged by bombing in World War II but was reconstructed and reopened to the public in the late 1950s. The ornate, pre-war interior was not restored.


The Wittelsbach collection was begun by Duke Wilhelm IV (1508-1550) who ordered important contemporary painters to create several history paintings. Elector Maximilian I (1597-1651) acquired paintings, especially the work of Albrecht Dürer. Maximilian's grandson Maximilian II Emanuel (1679-1726) purchased a large number of Dutch and Flemish paintings when he was Governor of the Spanish Netherlands. Also his cousin Johann Wilhelm, Elector Palatine (1690-1716) collected Netherlandish paintings. By the late 18th century a large number of the paintings were already displayed in an old palace, and accessible to the public.

After the reunion of Bavaria and the Palatinate in 1777, the galleries of Mannheim, Düsseldorf and Zweibrücken were moved to Munich, in part to protect the collections during the wars which followed the French revolution. With the secularisation many paintings from churches and former monasteries entered into state hands. King Ludwig I of Bavaria collected especially Early German and Early Dutch paintings but also masterpieces of the Italian renaissance.

The predilection of the Wittelsbach rulers for some painters made the collection quite strong in those areas but neglected others. Since the 1960s the Pinakothek has filled some of these gaps: for example, a deficit of 18th century paintings was addressed by the integration into the collection of works loaned from two Bavarian banks. Among others these paintings include Lancret's "The Bird Cage" and Boucher's "Madame Pompadour."


The museum is under supervision of the Bavarian State Picture Collection which own also an expanded collection of several thousand European paintings from the 13th to 18th century. Especially its collection of Early Italian, Old German, Old Dutch and Flemish paintings belongs to the most important in the world. More than 800 of these paintings are exhibited in the Old Pinakothek. Due to limited space in the building some associated galleries throughout Bavaria such as the baroque galleries in Schleissheim Palace and Neuburg Palace display also the Old Masters.

  • German paintings 14th–17th century:

  • Early Netherlandish and Dutch paintings 15th–18th century:

  • Flemish paintings 16th–18th century:

  • Italian paintings 13th–18th century:

  • French paintings 16th–18th century:

  • Spanish paintings 16th–18th century:


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