Rococo in Estonia. Gottlieb Welté (1745/49–1792)

22. September 2007 – 20. January 2008



Gottlieb Welté is the most important artist, who worked in Estonia in the late 18th century, but until now neither Estonia nor his hometown Mainz possessed a comprehensive overview of his output. The exhibition “Rococo in Estonia” is the first international summary of Gottlieb Welté’s work. The basic milestones of his career have been reconstructed, although there still remain many white areas and question marks. His works, accomplished mostly in small format, represent rococo and transition to early classicism. In Estonia, he painted figural staffages on large Põltsamaa landscapes and depicted Estonian peasants in the 1780’s; in Mainz and Frankfurt-am-Main he was known mostly as an etcher and a landscapist. Welté was a typical artist of the Enlightenment – pensive, developing and nonconformist.


There are twenty-six original works by Welté displayed at the exhibition plus photos from private collections and of his perished works. Welté’s number one works, the frescos of the Lohu Manor, are displayed in the form of large photos at the exhibition. In addition, a number of specimen of Estonian rococo are exhibited in the baroque-style Kadriorg Palace – faience from the late 18th century, porcelain from Põltsamaa, silverware and textiles, drawings and maps. A selection of the artist’s library is also displayed in the section of the exhibition illustrating the cultural background of the period. The items turned up from the records kept at the Estonian Historical Archives and related to the auction held after Welté’s death at the Lohu Manor in the present-day Harju County in 1792.


In addition to the exhibition, four lectures from the series of the “Saturday Academy” will be held plus two salon-evenings with harpsichord, educational programmes to basic school pupils and guided tours. Soon, a bulky bilingual Estonian-German exhibition catalogue will be published, including articles written by three art historians, a catalogue of Gottlieb Welté’s works and transcriptions and translations of Welté’s letters.


The exhibitioner:Anne Untera

The decorator: Liina Siib