The “Old Masters” collection illustrates the diversity of the artistic forces at play from the 16th through to the 19th century in both paintings and prints as well as in sculptures and art and craft objects. In addition to works by Westphalian artists, outstanding works from other schools are also represented, above all numerous works by the Dutch masters, a consequence of the lively artistic exchanges with this neighbouring country over the centuries.
Highlights from the Renaissance collection include paintings by the tom Ring family of Münster painters, of which the largest collection of works worldwide is located in the LWL-Museum. The Gröningers, a Westphalian family of sculptors, are particularly noteworthy in terms of the Baroque period. As a whole, portrait and still life painting are the major focus of the collection.
The emphasis of the extensive collection of arts and crafts is on furniture, demonstrating changes in concepts for living during the Renaissance and Baroque. The Wrangelschrank cabinet, manufactured in Augsburg, is of particular international significance; its inlaid imagery combines technical virtuosity with humanistic motifs.
The collection of 18th century works mainly illustrates Westphalian aristocratic culture: porcelain, silver, cut glass and numerous pieces of furniture conveying a vivid picture of the era. The portraits by Johann Christoph Rincklake reflect Westphalia’s aristocratic and bourgeois society at the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries.
The 19th century paintings display the range of stylistic developments during the period from Romanticism via Realism through to the beginnings of Impressionism. The fluid transitions to Modernism are primarily to be found in the paintings of Max Slevogt, Bernhard Pankok and Ida Gerhardi.