One can explore outstanding pieces of art in Durbe Palace – messengers of the hunting stories

Paintings, engravings and sculptures of the 18th - 19th century have captured animals and scenes of hunting, and hunting horns, powder horns, arms and other hunting accessories on top of them. Along with the artworks of the artists of that time, pieces of art of such outstanding artists as painter Johann Heinrich Baumann, Jacob Samuel Beck, engraver Johann Elias Ridinger and sculptor Jules Moigniez are exhibited.

Hunting is one of the most ancient ways to obtain food. Once it became a sport and the most noble activity of the German society. This hobby of landlords was depicted also by artists and writers in their creations.

Inspiration for the exhibition “Hunting Stories” in Durbe Palace was drawn from anecdotes “Hunting adventures which mostly border with untrue stories but have happened in reality" written in German language by the painter and writer Johann Heinrich Baumann. This rare original edition of 1817 from the archives of the Latvian National Library is presented in the exhibition as a special exhibit.

One of the most outstanding Baltic German artists of that time, Johann Heinrich Baumann (1753-1832), the most relevant and productive animalist in the Baltic, predominates in terms of number of artworks in the exhibition. His paintings mainly depict hunting scenes, dogs and wild animals, as well as still life. Baumann was a passionate hunter and was known as the Munchausen of Courland due to his hunting stories. The artist has painted more than 1700 canvas during his lifetime. His personality and creative activities in different periods of history was not praised univocally, and sometimes his affiliation to art was even denied.

The exhibition also features an artwork of Baumann's teacher, the well-known painter of still life and animals, Jacob Samuel Beck (1715-1778). From him Baumann has adopted the Dutch animalist genre painting style and has been painting ever since as he learned in his studio. The exhibition features one of few artworks of Becke found in Latvia.

Another messenger of “Hunting Stories” is one of the most popular German engravers Johann Elias Ridinger (1695-1767). He is also known as a draughtsman, publisher and painter. His fine engravings, which stand out with precision and taste, show not only the scenes from hunting, but also wild animals and dogs.

Another figure from real animal genre in the 19th century is French sculptor Jules Moigniez (1835-1894) who captured animals, birds, dogs and true hunting scenes in his bronze sculptures. The exhibition also features the peak of his mastery – a bronze statue of a hunting dog.

The exhibition was created in cooperation with: The Latvian National Art Museum, Latvian National Library, Art Museum Riga Exchange, Riga History and Shipping Museum, Latvian War Museum, Rundāle Palace Museum, Jūrmala Museum, Jaunmoku Palace, Kuldīga County Museum.

The exhibition is available for visitors of Durbe Palace between 13 April and 27 October 2024.

Get to know “Hunting Stories"!