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November 27, 2021

Dracula demystified at MNAR

The exhibition at the National Museum of Art of Romania (MNAR) in Bucharest presents the origin and development of the legend of the vampire king. On display, today through October 10th, the event-exhibition “Dracula – king and vampire”. The exhibition is aimed at exploring the links between the legends surrounding Wallachia’s King Vlad Tepes and the vampire myth in a realistic historic and documentary context, by means of works of fine art , as well as various items, costumes, manuscripts etc. The exhibition was presented in 2008 by Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna at Innsbruck’s Ambras Castle, on the 111th year celebration of the publishing of Bram Stoker’s novel “Dracula”. The exhibition opened in Bucharest now, two years after that at Ambras, includes items on loan from museums in Austria, Hungary, Germany and Slovenia, along with works belonging to the national heritage.

The well-known portrait of Wallachian King Vlad the Impaler the centrepiece, the “star” of the exhibition, has been preserved for more than 400 years at the Ambras Castle in Innsbruck. Made by an anonymous German painter, the painting is on public display for the first time ever in Romania – despite its being an iconic image. Starting with the heraldic painting, whose display is an event in itself, the exhibition is made up of four sections, the first of which sets out to explore the legends surrounding the Wallachian king of the 15th century. One of the most interesting works on display is the panel “Christ Before Pilate” depicting a scene from the Passion cycle part of the altar of the Franciscan Monastery in Vienna, preserved at Ljubljana, with Pilat’s countenance recognized in Vlad’s features, as portrayed in the portraits at the time. The second section illustrates the conflicts between Turks and the Christians of Southeast Europe in the 15th to 18th century. The third section approaches the vampire myth. Engraved timepieces, letters, treatises on healing the “vampire disease”, along with literary approaches of the subject: notes and rough copies of the novel “Dracula” by Bram Stoker and other excerpts from literary texts referring to vampires and supernatural creatures, by Homer, Ovidius, Goethe, Byron, Baudelaire and others. The last section of the exhibition traces the development of the Dracula figure in world cinematography, in posters, trailers and film images. The film “Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror” (1922, directed by F.W. Murnau), a masterpiece of the German expressionism, will be shown daily, as part of the exhibition.

What: Dracula – King or Vampire

Venue: National Art Museum

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