The Master Collector

Karoline Luise of Baden

30 May 2015 – 6 September 2015


Karoline Luise of Baden (1723–1783) shaped the art collection of the margraves of Baden more than any other before or since. In 2015 the Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe will be devoting a Great State Exhibition to this passionate art collector. The exhibition is due to run from 30 May to 6 September 2015 and will coincide with celebrations marking the 300th anniversary of the city of Karlsruhe.

The centrepiece of the show will be the presentation of Karoline Luise’s Mahlerey Cabinet, a collection that once boasted more than 200 paintings, most of which are still preserved in the Kunsthalle today. Her original collection included Dutch masterpieces of the 17th century and great works of French painting from the 18th century, among them canvases by Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn, David Teniers, and Jean Siméon Chardin.

The enterprising Karoline Luise was well-educated and well-versed in a broad range of subjects. She cultivated contacts with many European correspondents, made sure she was well-informed of events beyond her court, and displayed great acuity on the international art market, which was dominated by sensational auctions, just as today. She grew to become a respected connoisseur, a painter in her own right, and finally a "master collector", one of the greatest art collectors of her time.

The 2015 Great State Exhibition will reunite, for the first time, the works once held in the margravine’s Mahlerey  cabinet that are now held in the Kunsthalle with works previously owned by Karlsruhe and subsequently sold to museums and private collections in Europe and the United States.The exhibition is underpinned by a Major collaborative research Project between the Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe, Generallandesarchiv Karlsruhe (state archives), and the Università della Svizzera italiana, in Mendrisio, Switzerland. The project has been generously supported by the VolkswagenStiftung. It aims to study the margravine’s extensive legacy of manuscripts and papers, preserved in the family archive of the House of Baden.