The Portfolio of Prints and Drawings Referring to Baroque Theatre, Stage and Festival Culture

Within the collection of prints and drawings of the Deutsches Theatermuseum (German Theatre Museum), a substantial group of graphic works attests to the representative magnificence of court culture as well as to the folkloristic roots of theatrical phenomena during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. In this rich inventory of depictions of the Baroque theatre and festival culture, the following important themes are represented by significant examples: stage settings and designs for scenery, designs of costumes and types, portraits of actors in stage costume and in civil dress as well as views of theatre buildings, locations and stage machinery. Apart from its use as documentary evidence, this portfolio manages to explain and illustrate typologies, functionality and the historical connections between theatrical events. Some of the graphic sheets of this group are of outstanding artistic quality as regards pictorial invention and execution. The unique art historical value of this group, as well as of the single sheets and series, consists of the high informative content on the phenomenon of "Baroque Theatre", which becomes evident in its synopsis.

The images depict the course and sequence of theatrical events, of improvised as well as of institutionalised performances of single comedians or of entire casts, of singers and dancers for example on travelling stages or in the context of a court, as part of performances of balletic, recited or sung scenes. Important familiar or political events such as births, marriages, jubilees, military victories or the death of a member of the ruling family offered the appropriate occasion for theatrically enriched celebrations. The depictions illustrate the operative illusionistic and typified decorative principles, clarify the application of optical-perspectival tricks and focus on details of the hidden technical stage machinery. They attest to the importance of great monarchs and princes such as Leopold I (1658–1705, emperor of the Holy Roman Empire), Ludwig XIV (1643–1715, king of France) or Cosimo III de' Medici (1670–1723, grand duke of Tuscany) for the theatre and emphasise thereby local centres of baroque theatre. The outstanding inventions of fanciful stage settings by the hand of the greatest baroque stage architects and designers such as Lodovico Burnacini (1636–1707) or by the Galli-Bibiena family that worked at numerous important European princely courts illustrates the high aspirations of baroque theatrical art. At the same time, the delicate manufacture of fine-spun costume designs and the sophisticated as well as detailed creation of stage sceneries by Jacques Callot (1592–1635), Antonio Bertoli (1677–1743) or Nicolas Cochin (1715–1790) set the artistic standards of this portfolio of theatrical prints and drawings.

The portfolio described is not part of a public collection for reasons of conservation.

Departments in the collection "The Portfolio of Prints and Drawings Referring to Baroque Theatre, Stage and Festival Culture" of the Deutsches Theatermuseum

>> This collection contains inventory of the Deutsches Theatermuseum (German Theatre Museum).