Marking Frederick the Great’s 300th Birthday

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on May 24, 2012

On the 300th anniversary of the birth of Frederick the Great, the Prussian Culture Heritage Foundation has organized a series of nine exhibitions. A few of them are detailed here at Enfilade, but more information is available from the series website:

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Art – King – Enlightenment
Exhibition Series Organized by the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, Berlin, 2012

Johann Gottfried Schadow, “Stettin Monument of Frederick the Great,” 1793 © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, photo: Achim Kleuker

The 24 January 2012 marked the 300th anniversary of the birth of Frederick the Great. To mark the occasion, the five institutions that make up the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation have joined forces to deliver a series of diverse exhibitions and events that will guide visitors through the tercentenary celebrations.

The joint project bears the title Art – King – Enlightenment. The institutions involved are: the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (National Museums in Berlin), the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin (Berlin State Library), the Geheimes Staatsarchiv Preußischer Kulturbesitz (Prussian state archives), the Ibero-American Institute and the Staatliche Institut für Musikforschung (an institute for scholarship in music). Together, they highlight various areas relating to the king as a person and the age in which he lived.

Coinage reforms, Montezuma, the image as a mass medium, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Chinese porcelain service, secret correspondence, and a concert flute are just some of the things that provide a snapshot of what we can expect to see in 2012. This colourful palette of events revolving around the anniversary will provide an insight not just into the life and work of the famous Prussian king, but
also into his historical impact, for Prussia, Germany and Europe.

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War Court in Köpenick! Anno 1730: Crown Prince – Katte – Order of the King
Köpenick Palace, 29 October 2011 — 5 February 2012

It’s Enough for Eight Groschen… Frederick the Great Seen through His Coins and Medals
Bode-Museum, 24 January — 14 October 2012

Frederick’s Montezuma: Power and Meaning in the Prussian Court Opera
Museum of Music Instruments, 27 January — 24 June 2012

On the Edge of Reason: Cycles of Works on Paper in the Age of the Enlightenment
Kupferstichkabinett at Kulturforum, 16 March — 29 July 2012

‘…Old Fritz, Who Lives in His People’: The Image of Frederick the Great in Adolph Menzel
National Gallery, Kupferstichkabinett and Gemäldegalerie in the Old National Gallery, 23 March — 24 June 2012

On the Plurality of Worlds: The Arts of the Enlightenment
Art Library at Kulturforum, 10 May — 5 August 2012

China and Prussia: Porcelain and Tea
Museum of Asian Art, Dahlem Museums, 8 June — 31 December 2012

Porcelain for the Palaces of Frederick the Great
Museum of Decorative Arts in Köpenick Palace, 15 June — 28 October 2012

Homme de lettres – Federic: The King at His Writing Desk
Prussian State Archives and Berlin State Library presented in the Art Library at Kulturforum,  6 July — 30 September 2012

Exhibition | Frederick the Great through His Coins and Medals

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on May 24, 2012

From the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin:

It’s Enough for 8 Groschen … Frederick the Great Seen through His Coins and Medals
Bode-Museum, Berlin, 24 January — 14 October 2012

Ludwig Heinrich Barbiez, Medaille auf die Schlacht bei Kesselsdorf, 1745 © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Münzkabinett

Coins and medals reflect the history of Prussia and its great king in an immediate way: quite literally in the palms of our hands. No other European monarch wrought such wide-reaching changes to his country’s coinage and monetary system as Frederick II of Prussia. With his coinage reforms of 1750 and 1764, he not only set Prussia on a new course, but also significantly paved the way for later monetary developments in the rest of Germany.

By radically debasing the currency, specifically of specie (by lowering the quantity of precious metals in newly minted coins), he managed to finance the Seven Years’ War (1756-1763). He was just as radical in overhauling the Prussian currency after the war. The mints went from being half-private companies to efficient, state-run money factories. Under Frederick II, gold coins and larger silver coins were standardised across the country in a process that started in 1750. The diversity of territories under Prussian control and their various types of coins and monetary systems are reflected in the coins of the time. The coin portraits of Frederick II reveal a lot about the image of the ruler – from handsome young man in the year of his coronation in 1740 up to his death in 1786, by which time he was dubbed ‘Old Fritz’. Besides his great battles and victories, various other kinds of events that took place during his reign are captured on his medals.

The Numismatic Collection holds over 3500 coins from the time of Frederick the Great, thus making it not only the largest, but also the most complete collection of its kind in the world. This particular collection will be published for the first time in its entirety, in a combination of print and online catalogues to mark the celebrations surrounding Frederick II’s birth. The result means that the public now has unprecedented access to this historical source on the life of Frederick the Great.

The exhibition is being held as part of a wider series of events called Art – King – Enlightenment, coordinated by the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation in honour of the 300th anniversary of the birth of Frederick the Great on 24 January 2012.

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