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)

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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.

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