The Old Masters II exhibition a follow-up to the Old Masters permanent exhibition located in the opposite Schwarzenberg palace. Both exhibitions complement each other to form a coherent whole, while presenting magnificent artwork in different contexts.
The new exhibition in the Sternberg palace follows the historical tradition of exhibiting masterpieces in this building, which was used in 1811–1871 as a seat of the Society of Patriotic Friends of the Arts, the predecessor of today’s National Gallery Prague. This time, artwork will be exhibited in the context of centres of art and their mutual connections. Old Masters II represent the best of the unique collections of NGP and its partners – e.g. a rare collection of Russian Christian icons preserved in Prague, presenting an extraordinary personality of their collector, Nikodim P. Kondakov. The exhibition also shows a unique collection of Italian paintings of the 14th and 15th centuries gathered mostly by Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria. It is the largest collection of the co-called Italian primitive school preserved outside of Italy and it explores artistic creations in Italian cities of Siena, Florence, Venice or Padua.
The collection of early Italian art is complemented by Renaissance and Baroque paintings (Alessandro Allori, Jacopo Bassano, Luca Giordano). There are also extraordinary collections of Dutch and Flemish painting of the 15th to 18th centuries with the main focus on the art of Antwerp, Amsterdam, Utrecht and Leyden (Herri met de Bles, Pieter II. Brueghel, Peter Paul Rubens, Anthony van Dyck, Rachel Ruysch, Gerard Ter Borch, Nicolaes Eliasz. Pickenoy).
The altar with The Crucifixion by Hans Raphon is a rare piece. It is the only fully preserved retable of the Passion of the Christ in public collections in the Czech Republic. Central European works of art are represented by the collection of Nuremberg art and selected solitary works from the territory of today’s Germany, in particular from the important trading and artistic region of Rhineland dating back to the 15th to 18th centuries (Hans Baldung Grien, Hans Dürer). The exhibition also displays works of art of German and Austrian lands created in the 17th and 18th centuries (Georg Flegel, Paul Troger, Johann Carl Loth, Johann Michael Rottmayr). A smaller collection of French and Spanish art of the 17th and 18th centuries is remarkable for the significance and quality of exhibited solitary pieces (Charles Mellin, Pierre Mignard, Bartolomé Esteban Murillo).