Art of the Middle Ages
The collections of medieval art comprise objects of craftsmanship, sculptures, panel paintings, and stained glass. Their holdings range from the Early to the Late Middle Ages and originate, in part, still from old landgrave ownership, including some paintings by Lucas Cranach the Elder. A wealth of objects came into the Darmstadt collection through the inheritance of the Cologne collector Baron von Hüpsch, including circa 40 precious carved ivories and goldsmith works, as well as 25 works of Cologne panel painting. Additional fully preserved altar pieces and significant stained glass works stem from the area of the former Grand Duchy of Hesse-Darmstadt.
In the first three rooms of the Painting Gallery, late medieval altarpieces and devotional images from Cologne, various regions along the Rhine, Central Germany, and Franconia are presented. They mark the beginning of the tour through 700 years of painting history. Outstanding are the Worms panels, the Ortenberg Altar, the Presentation of Christ in the Temple by Stefan Lochner, and works by Lucas Cranach the Elder.
In the atmospheric Ecclesiastical Treasury, visitors experience medieval art across genres. The stained glass works are presented as part of the church architecture built by Alfred Messel for the collection. They lend a special atmosphere to the room and let the wooden, clay, and stone sculptures, as well as the carved ivories and goldsmith works – which, as liturgical objects, have lost their original contexts and functions – shine in a special light. The choir area with small altars is adorned with glass panels made in the 13th century for the Knight’s Collegiate Church of St. Peter in Wimpfen im Tal.
Highlights of the museum's church space include a Byzantine box (pyxis) from the 5th century, the Magdeburg ivory panel, and the rosette box from Constantinople. Another highlight is the tower reliquary adorned with colorful enamel by the Master of the Gregorius Portable Altar from around 1200. Several decorated book covers from precious illuminated manuscripts from the 9th to 13th centuries are preserved in the Graphic Collection, completing the holdings of medieval craftsmanship.