The River Main (pronounced 'mine') runs through Frankfurt, hence its full name Frankfurt am Main (on the Main), to distinguish it from the other, smaller Frankfurt an der Oder. On the south bank of the River Main, along the Schaumainkai, stands a highly distinguished string of museums, giving rise to the collective label 'Museumsufer' (the 'museum embankment'). The most distinguished of all these is the art gallery called the Städelmuseum, or 'Städel' for short, named after the man who founded it in 1818, banker Johann Friedrich Städel.

This is one of those delightful galleries that is compact and manageable, and where everything on view is of very high class. The collection has an intriguing background: it was originally put together for an art school to provide a selection of work that the pupils might study and learn from. It includes paintings by the great German masters of the Renaissance, such as Lucas Cranach, Mathis Grünewald, Albrecht Dürer, Hans Holbein (Elder and Younger) and Hans Baldung Grien, plus work by the many of great stars of Flanders and the Netherlands (Jan van Eyck, Roger van der Weyden, Rubens, Rembrandt, Vermeer), and Italy (Fra Angelico, Mantegna, Botticelli, Canaletto). The 20th-century collection includes paintings by the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists (Renoir, Monet, Degas, Cézanne) and the German Expressionists (Nolde, Kirchner).

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