Renaissance art, Nationalmuseum

In the 1500s, Europe saw a rise of central states with a strong royal power. Gustav Vasa was elected king of Sweden in 1523. He strengthened his power further by cutting the ties with the Catholic Church, joining Sweden to the Protestant faith, and introducing a hereditary monarchy.For Gustav Vasa, and for other Renaissance rulers, magnificent state rooms at the royal palaces were important. Contemporary art, such as portraits and woven tapestries, legitimized the ruling family.Gustav Vasa’s sons had high ambitions regarding art and architecture. But influences didn’t reach Sweden from the main areas of the Renaissance, on the Italian peninsula, but from northern Europe. However, a significant part of the Renaissance art in the museum’s collections came to Sweden as war-loots during the 1600s.

Munich robbery
In May 1632, Swedish troops entered Munich, where King Gustav II Adolf progressed hard in the collections of the Elector Maximilian I. An explanation has been sought for the decision in a personal enmity between the two and in that Maximilian was a prominent Catholic. With the Munich robbery came, among other things, three paintings from the famous history cycle with pictures depicting battles during antiquity, added 1533–1557 on the order of Duke William IV of Bavaria. Best known in the suite is Albrecht Altdorfers Alexanderslaget (now in Alte Pinakothekin Munich), which, together with four more paintings, had been evacuated and thus saved the advance of the Swedish troops. In the collections of the National Museum today Ludwig Refinger’s Horatius Cocles halted King Porsena’s here in front of Rome and Manlius Torquatus in a row with a grid and Melchior Feselen’s Julius Cæsar besieges the city of Alesia.

Gustav III and the acquisitions in Italy
During his travels in Italy from 1783 to 1784, Gustav III visited the Uffizi in Florence, which has been open to the public since 1769. In Rome, among other things, he visited the Museo Pio Clementino and saw its sculptures. Another purpose of the stay in Italy was to acquire antique objects, which is why the king, before his journey, had a contract agent, Francesco Piranesi, contracted. In a short time, a collection of antiques was purchased. At the heart of this was a group of sculptures depicting Apollon and the nine muses and a sculpture depicting Endymion.

Nationalmuseum is Sweden’s museum of art and design. Nationalmuseum is also a government authority with a mandate to preserve cultural heritage and promote art, interest in art and knowledge of art. The collections comprise of painting, sculpture, drawings and prints from 1500-1900 and applied arts, design and portraits from early Middle Ages up until present day.

The National Museum is a Swedish state central museum in Stockholm and Sweden’s largest art museum. The collections consist of painting, sculpture and art on paper from around the 16th century to the 20th century, as well as art and design objects from the 16th century to the present. The total number of objects amounts to approximately 700,000. The museum is located at Blasieholmen in Stockholm, in a building designed for the purpose by the German architect Friedrich August Stüler. The building was completed in 1866 but the museum’s history is older than that and goes back to June 28, 1792 when the Royal Museuminstituted. The National Museum is thus one of Europe’s oldest art museums.

The collections were moved to Blasieholmen after previously, to some extent, being stored in the Royal Museum, which opened in 1794 in the northern logyard wing of the Royal Palace in Stockholm. Like many other national art museums, the collections are to a significant extent based on generations of royal collections, which for various reasons have become state-owned. For example, works belonging to Gustav Vasa can be seen at the National Museum.

The museum’s activities also extend outside the building at Blasieholmen. For example, the National Museum belongs to the Swedish State’s portrait collection, which is on display at Gripsholm Castle. An extensive deposit business from the museum holds several authorities and institutions with art. In addition, items from the museum’s collections are displayed at a number of other museum institutions around the country.