Exhibition | Johann Gottfried Schadow: Embracing Forms

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on January 31, 2023

Johann Gottfried Schadow, Double Portrait Statue of Princesses Luise and Friederike of Prussia, detail, 1795–97, marble
(Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Nationalgalerie)

◊   ◊   ◊   ◊   ◊

From the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin:

Johann Gottfried Schadow: Embracing Forms / Berührende Formen
Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin, 21 October 2022 — 19 February 2023

Curated by Yvette Deseyve

The life-size double statue of Princesses Louise and Frederica of Prussia, known as the Princess Group, is the magnum opus of Johann Gottfried Schadow (1764–1850). Seen as the founder of the Berlin School of sculpture, Schadow came to epitomize German neoclassicism, with this work being emblematic of the movement. As the first sculpture depicting two female historical figures, this work wrote art history, and continues to be a highlight for visitors to Berlin from around the world. The first retrospective in some 30 years, this exhibition presents Schadow’s major sculptural, graphic, and art-theoretical works, arranged into 11 thematic sections. Following extensive conservation and restoration work, the original plaster model of the Princess Group (from 1795) is exhibited alongside the original marble rendering (1797) for the first time ever.

Book cover.With more than 150 works, the collection of the Nationalgalerie is home to the world’s largest selection of Schadow’s sculptural works, including both originals of the Princess Group. Since the last retrospective almost 30 years ago (which was first exhibited at the Alte Nationalgalerie), a great deal has been uncovered about the artist, his oeuvre, the functioning of his workshop, and his working methods. This knowledge comes in large part from the major research and restoration project focused on the original plaster model of the Princess Group, the findings of which are here presented to the public for the first time. Numerous international loans of sculptures, paintings, and graphic works, as well as art-theoretical writings, offer insights into the genesis and critical reception of the Princess Group. The exhibition also features works by some of Schadow’s contemporaries, including Gainsborough, Tischbein, Weitsch, Chodowiecki, and Begas.

Johann Gottfried Schadow: Embracing Forms is curated by Yvette Deseyve and is accompanied by catalogues in both English and German. The exhibition was made possible by the Freunde der Nationalgalerie, the Ernst von Siemens Kunststiftung, and the Cultural Foundation of the German Federal States. The three-year conservation and restoration project on the original plaster model of the Princess Group was funded by the Hermann Reemstma Stiftung, the Rudolf-August Oetker-Stiftung, and the Cultural Foundation of the German Federal States. The Bern University of Applied Sciences and the Bern Academy of the Arts supported the project as cooperation partners.

Yvette Deseyve, ed., with contributions by Sintje Guericke, Johann Gottfried Schadow: Embracing Forms (Munich: Hirmer Verlag, 2023), 304 pages, ISBN: 978-3777440873, $65.

Exhibition | Ridolfo Schadow: The Judgment of Cupid

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on January 31, 2023

Ridolfo Schadow, Cupid, detail, 1821/22, marble
(Berlin: SPSG Skulpt.slg. 2800, photo by Daniel Lindner)

◊   ◊   ◊   ◊   ◊

Now on view at Charlottenburg Palace:

Ridolfo Schadow: The Judgment of Cupid / Das Urteil des Amor
Schloss Charlottenburg, Berlin, 28 May 2022 — 31 December 2023

Special presentation on the 200th anniversary of the death of Ridolfo Schadow

On the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the death of the sculptor Ridolfo Schadow (1786–1822) an idea of the artist will be realized for the first time within a presentation in the vestibule of the New Wing in Charlottenburg Palace. Three young girls sit opposite Cupid, the winged god of love. Engrossed in their respective activities, they don’t appear to have noticed his presence. Cupid is undecided: on whom should he bestow the floral wreath in his hand? This arrangement of four marble sculptures awakens associations with the ‘Judgement of Paris’, the story from Greek mythology in which Zeus, the father of the gods, assigned Paris, the son of the Trojan king, the task of deciding who is the most beautiful of the goddesses: Hera, Athena, or Aphrodite.

Ridolfo Schadow, Girl Spinning, 1818, marble (SPSG Skulpt.slg. 5579).

Schadow, however, presents viewers with sensitively observed adolescents in poses capturing everyday situations: the young Cupid, the Girl with Doves (Innocence), the Girl Tying Her Sandal, and the Girl Spinning. King Frederick Wilhelm III of Prussia purchased the four sculptures produced by Ridolfo Schadow in Rome. Three of them stood in the Royal Palace (Kronprinzenpalais), while the fourth was displayed in the Berlin Palace. Thus, with this presentation, the original intention of the sculptor—arranging the four figures as a group—has been fulfilled for the first time.

What real circumstances could have inspired this idea of the prematurely deceased Ridolfo Schadow? Living in the Casa Buti, a type of artists’ guesthouse in Rome, the sculptor not only met fellow artists such as Bertel Thorvaldsen (1770–1844) and Antonio Canova (1757–1822), but also the three daughters of the Buti household. They were probably the models for the charming genre scenes, which were very popular at the time. This small exhibition addresses the origin, interpretation, and later influence of the figures.

Visitors can find additional details of Ridolfo Schadow’s work and life in Rome on the SPSG website, as well as information on further works acquired by the Prussian ruling house through the mediation of Ridolfo’s father and teacher, the famous Berlin sculptor, Johann Gottfried Schadow (1764–1850)—himself the subject of considerable attention in 2022 and 2023 with exhibitions at the Alte Nationalgalerie SMB PK, the Gipsformerei SMB PK (Replica Workshop), the Schadow Gesellschaft Berlin e.V., and the Stiftung Stadtmuseum Berlin.

New Book | Thorvaldsen: Collector of Plaster Casts

Posted in books by Editor on January 31, 2023

From Aarhus UP:

Jan Zahle, Thorvaldsen: Collector of Plaster Casts from Antiquity and the Early Modern Period (Copenhagen: Thorvaldsens Museum and Aarhus University Press, 2020), 3 volumes, 828 pages, ISBN: 978-8771843590, $112.

Book cover of volume 1The Danish neoclassical sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen (1770–1844), who lived most of his life in Rome, was not only one of Europe’s most sought-after artists; he was also a collector. In addition to his own works and drawings, he built extensive collections of paintings, prints, drawings, and books—and of ancient artefacts from Egyptian, Greek, and Roman antiquity: coins, lockets, containers, vases, lamps, fragments of sculpture, and more. He also acquired a large collection of plaster casts, primarily after ancient sculptures and reliefs, but also of works dating from the Renaissance and up until his own lifetime. Thanks to Thorvaldsen’s bequest to the city of Copenhagen, his birthplace, all of these collections are still largely intact and well preserved at his museum.

Home to a total of 657 plaster casts, the Thorvaldsen Museum’s cast collection is unique for several reasons: The collection offers us insight into the sculptor’s working methods and the development of his work because it served a clear function as an image bank of forms, motifs and subjects for Thorvaldsen’s own endeavours. Furthermore, the dual fact that the collection is so well preserved and was established over a relatively brief period of time makes it a valuable example illuminating the trade and distribution of plaster casts during the first half of the nineteenth century.

These areas of study form the central focal point of Volume I of this publication. Volume II contains a catalogue of the individual objects in the cast collection, while Volume III collects the overviews, inventories, concordances, and primary sources referred to in the first two volumes. Arising out of many years of study of Thorvaldsen’s cast collection conducted by their author, the classical archaeologist Jan Zahle, these books contain comprehensive source material from the period, much of it previously unknown.

The table of contents is available as a PDF file here»


%d bloggers like this: