Wallraf-Richartz-Museum & Fondation Corboud


Whether in books, films, computer games or themed tourist events, the Middle Ages are nowadays more omnipresent than almost any other period of human history. But why does an era once known as the ‘Dark Ages’ enjoy such a positive reputation today?

A visit to the Department of Medieval Painting at the Wallraf-Richartz Museum & Fondation Corboud may provide a few interesting answers to this question. The unusual presentation builds a bridge of understanding between our modern everyday world and the art of the Middle Ages.

The fifteen panel paintings of the Ursula Cycle for example are hung in such a way that they tell the story of the saint and her eleven thousand virgins in the form of a gripping comic strip. However, at the heart of the world-famous Cologne collection are the church paintings which Ferdinand Franz Wallraf (1748–1824) rescued when monasteries and collegiate institutions were dissolved during the Napoleonic period. Among the most important exhibits are the Altarpiece of the Holy Cross by the ‘Master of the St Bartholomew Altarpiece’, Albrecht Dürer’s Piper and Drummer, and Stefan Lochner’s Madonna in the Rose-bower. The latter, also known as the ‘kölsche Mona Lisa’, with its fascinating history, has come to have a special place in the gallery.

Form a first impression of the glory of the Middle Ages by taking a virtual tour of the Medieval Collection.