From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
The Gemäldegalerie is an art museum in Berlin, Germany. It holds one of the world's leading collections of European art from the 13th to the 18th centuries. It is located on Kulturforum west of Potsdamer Platz. Its collection includes masterpieces from such artists as Albrecht Dürer, Lucas Cranach, Raphael, Titian, Caravaggio, Peter Paul Rubens, Rembrandt and Johannes Vermeer. It was first opened in 1830, and was rebuilt in 1998.
The Gemäldegalerie prides itself on its scientific methodology in collecting and displaying art. Each room can be taken in as a single statement about one to five artists in a certain period or following a certain style. Especially notable rooms include the octagonal Rembrandt room and a room containing five different Madonnas by Raphael.
Other notable experiences include Flemish moralistic paintings which stretch across the north side of the museum, showing an interplay between the religious motives of the artists' patrons and the often sensual inspirations of the artists. In the Renaissance section, for example, Caravaggio's Amor Victorious is displayed alongside Giovanni Baglione's Sacred Love Versus Profane Love. The two paintings are historically connected; after hearing of the scandalous portrayal of the theme "love conquers all" in Carvaggio's work, a Roman bishop commissioned Baglionne's reply, which mimics Carvaggio's style, including the features of Amor.
The collection was first located in the Royal Museum located near Lustgarten on Unter den Linden, a famous Berlin street. The collection began largely with the collection of Frederick the Great. The gallery's first director was Gustav Friedrich Waagen. Berlin's premier name in museum direction, Wilhelm von Bode, served the gallery from 1890 to 1929. His leadership marked the rise of the Gemäldegalerie to international prominence.
In 1904 the Gemäldegalerie was largely a collection of Renaissance art when it moved to the newly built Kaiser Friedrich Museum, later known as the Bode Museum. The museum was badly damaged during World War II, however most of the collection survived the war in shelters across Germany. At the end of world war II however, 400 art pieces were destroyed in a fire of a Flak tower that served as bomb shelter. Furthermore, several hundred paintings looted by Russian as well as American soldiers or confiscated and never returned by the red army. The rest of the collection was divided between East Berlin (mostly at the Bode Museum on Museumsinsel) and West Berlin in Berlin-Dahlem.