Highlights from the Ruhr Museum Collection

By UNESCO World Heritage Zollverein

Chalice block capital from the Benedictine monastery of Werden (late 12th/early 13th century)UNESCO World Heritage Zollverein

Chalice block capital from the Benedictine monastery of Werden

The capital found in the Werden monastery district and reused as a building stone may have come from the cloister, where it crowned an ornamental column. It could also have belonged to a mullion. In the 11th century, Werden was home to an organised construction hut, which produced building sculpture of high quality. There are style parallels with works from the Cologne area.

Crucifixion (around 1480; frame from a later period)UNESCO World Heritage Zollverein


The group of mourning people beneath the crucifix...


The painting from the Karl Ernst Osthaus collection was initially owned by the Folkwang Museum in Hagen. Originally it belonged to a large altar of the Passion. The group of a few mourners under the cross in the foremost image level allowed for contemplative immersion in Christ’s sacrificial death.

Crucifixion opposed by a "group of perpetrators" consisting of soldiers and Pharisees. 

Marian thaler of Essen Abbess Anna Salome von Salm-Reifferscheidt (1672/1672)UNESCO World Heritage Zollverein

Marientaler of the Essen Abbess Anna Salome von Salm-Reifferscheidt

This thaler is one of the most valuable pieces in the coin collection and shows Mary, the most important patroness of the Essen Abbey, as a crowned queen of heaven on a crescent moon. Marian coins made of gold or silver were not only used as a means of payment, but also as amulets to protect against illness, accident and death in many countries and for centuries.

Champion’s chain of the Essen Marksmen’s GuildUNESCO World Heritage Zollverein

Champion’s chain of the Essen Marksmen’s Guild

The task of the marksmen was to defend the city and its officials. They organised themselves into a religious brotherhood, the Sebastian Guild. The Essen Marksmen’s Guild is first mentioned in a city account from 1390. At the annual shooting match, the winner of the bird shooting received the King’s chain, to which he attached his house mark with initials and a year.

Portrait of Essen Princess-Abbess Franziska Christine von Pfalz Sulzbach (1696-1776) (last third of the 18th century) by Johann Jakob Schmitz (?),UNESCO World Heritage Zollverein

Portrait of the Essen Princess-Abbess Franziska Christine von Pfalz Sulzbach

The ermine-trimmed cloak and the medals emphasise the Prince-Abbess’s origins in the high nobility and her claim to power. During her reign she founded the orphanage in Steele, for the operation of which she established a secular foundation that still exists today. The complex housed the orphanage, the residence of the Princess-Abbess and a mission station of the Jesuit order.

Wax reliefs of the married couple Gottschalk Diedrich (1713-1778) and Clara Elisabeth Baedeker (1714-1784) (2nd half of the 18th century)UNESCO World Heritage Zollverein

Wax reliefs of the married couple named Baedeker

Wax portraits were popular among the bourgeoisie, since they could depict people to a deceptively real-looking degree. The portrayed Gottschalk Diedrich Baedeker acquired the city printing office in Dortmund in 1737, printed Dortmund’s first newspaper and married Clara Elisabeth Kaufmann from Essen.  The older son continued to run the business, the second married into the Wohlleben printing house in Essen and published the paper “Neueste Essendische Nachrichten” as well as school books.

Cradle with rockers (dat. 1770 and 1772)UNESCO World Heritage Zollverein

Cradle with rockers

A child’s cradle was also more than just a piece of utilitarian furniture in the rural and artisanal milieu, as the carved decorative elements show. The six-pointed star was considered a sign of luck and salvation...

Cradle with rockers

...the dates at the top record the birthdays of two children...

Cradle with rockers

...the transverse rockers were pushed under the cradle like a frame and screwed to the cot on the long sides.

Prayer book of Dortmund humanist Caspar Schwartz (1490/1500, and Dortmund, 1565) by Werkstatt des Meisters von Edward IV.,UNESCO World Heritage Zollverein

Prayer book of Dortmund humanist Caspar Schwartz

The parchment booklet with full-page miniature pictures, elaborate borders with flowers and insects and handwritten entries by his humanist friends stems from the lost library of Dortmund scholar Caspar Schwartz. Books of hours were used for private prayer, but already had antiquarian value during the Renaissance. Schwartz was a Calvinist and was not allowed to hold municipal office.

Portrait of a woman with a book and a skull (2nd half of 16th century (?)) by Nachfolge Bartholomäus Bruyn d.Ä.UNESCO World Heritage Zollverein

Portrait of a woman with a book and a skull

The woman, who has not yet been identified, is dressed like a married, wealthy Cologne citizen at the end of the 16th century. This is indicated by the sleeves lined with white fur, the richly decorated belt, the narrow piece of brocade fabric underneath and the rings. The noble elegance of her appearance, the prayer book, the skull and the introverted look indicate her god-fearing life.

“Holy Trinity” or “Throne of Mercy” (dat. 1542) by Johann LadenspelderUNESCO World Heritage Zollverein

“Holy Trinity” or “Throne of Mercy”

Ladenspelder probably came from Essen and was known in Cologne as a copyist of Albrecht Dürer’s works. His subjects include religious, mythological and allegorical representations as well as copies of Italian tarot game cards. He signed many of his prints I.L.V.E.S. or IHVE. In this engraving he took up one of Dürer’s pictorial ideas, but changed the composition and thus brought more movement into the action.

Kuttrolf (Angster) (17th century)UNESCO World Heritage Zollverein

Kuttrolf (Angster)

A Kuttrolf, like this specimen made of milky-blue glass, is a bottle-like serving and drinking vessel with an artfully twisted, narrowed neck made of several tubes. Since it was hardly possible to drink from it without spilling, it also had a significance as a humorous drinking vessel for wine and brandy, in addition to its function as a drop dispenser for sprinkling rose water, for example.

Hunting horn (so-called Sauerland crescent) (17th/18th century)UNESCO World Heritage Zollverein

Hunting horn (so-called Sauerland crescent)

The large horn, bent in a three-quarter circle, has been used since the 16th century in northern Germany to signal during Bracken hunting. With packs of several hundred hounds, high European nobility organised the “Great Hunt” for red deer and wild boar. Even today, crescents are used by Sauerland Bracken hunters to wind six signals such as “gather” or “game dead”. 

Parade helmet (morion) (around 1580/90)UNESCO World Heritage Zollverein

Parade helmet (morion)

The wide-brimmed morion with a high crest developed from the medieval iron hat, which was intended to absorb blows from cutting weapons such as swords, maces and halberds. The representative morion, which most likely belonged to a high-ranking commander rather than a foot soldier, is covered in a rich etched decoration of horsemen, foot fighters and countless weapon trophies and arabesques.

Renaissance cabinet (dat. 1628)UNESCO World Heritage Zollverein

Renaissance cabinet

The piece of furniture consists of two parts and follows the structure of the so-called “Cologne cabinet”, but differs in the geometric carving pattern in the door panels. The quality of the carving and the figurative programme deserve to be highlighted...

Renaissance cabinet

...Mary Magdalene, John the Baptist, angels’ and lions’ heads come from Christian symbolism, the allegory of Fortuna refers to the volatility of happiness.

Fireback with allegorical representation of hope (dat. 1662)UNESCO World Heritage Zollverein

Fireback with an allegorical representation of hope

Representative rooms were heated with open fireplaces for a long time. A cast-iron plate protected the back wall from too much heat; at the same time, its reliefs decorated the fireplace of the house. The manufacturing centres of iron art casting were in the Eifel, in the Siegerland and in Hesse. In the 17th century, coats of arms, allegories and ornaments such as volutes, fruit garlands and dolphins were mainly depicted.

Map of the county of Mark and the adjoining territories “NOVA COMITAT. MARCKENSIS tabula Finitimorumque locorum verissima descriptio. Ann. 1608”, (1608 (print)) by Entwurf: Detmar Mulher, Dortmund; Kupferstich: Matthias Quad, Köln (?); Georg Meuting, Köln, 1608 (Druck)UNESCO World Heritage Zollverein

Map of the county of Mark and the adjoining territories

In the 16th century, cartography became the epitome of scientific exploration of the world. The oldest map of the county of Mark, which survives only in this original copy, provides a first insight into the topography of the later Ruhr area. It was a joint work of various cartographers and shows about 550 towns and villages in the colour-coded territories as well as the course of the Ruhr and its tributaries. 

Schnelle with depictions of vice (dat. 1591) by Hans HilgersUNESCO World Heritage Zollverein

Schnelle with depictions of vices

The vessel excavated in Essen shows the allegories of the vices Superbia (vanity), Luxuria (unchastity) and Gula (intemperance). The depiction of the seven deadly sins of Christian moral teaching on objects of daily use was just as common in the early modern period as that of the virtues of faith, love and hope. The images were intended to remind their users of their human strengths and weaknesses.

Teapot with Essen hallmark (mid 18th century city mark, master mark ZN)UNESCO World Heritage Zollverein

Teapot with Essen hallmarks

When the enjoyment of tea, coffee and chocolate found its way into bourgeois culture in the 18th century, new vessel forms were developed for their preparation and were also produced in silver. This teapot represents a shape common in Augsburg and Nuremberg. However, it was made in a silversmith’s shop in Essen, as evidenced by the sword as a city mark and the master’s mark.

Flintlock pistol from an Essen manufactory (18th century)UNESCO World Heritage Zollverein

Flintlock pistol from an Essen manufactory

In terms of weaponry, the flintlock mechanism is a further development of the wheel lock.

A sword was hammered into the Essen gun barrels as a hallmark; the maker’s engraving is below the flintlock.

The artistic design of this pistol – the grotesque mask on the trigger guard, the panther head on the grip – indicates that it was a commissioned work.

Raeren stoneware (around 1620)UNESCO World Heritage Zollverein

Raeren stoneware

The maroon, salt-glazed vessels decorated with ornate reliefs made Raeren stoneware a sought-after commodity throughout Europe. For the upper middle-class table, they were often decorated with mottoes and pewter attachments. Among the 50 or so master potters in Raeren, Jan Emens stands out in particular, who succeeded for the first time in producing grey stoneware with cobalt blue painting.

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