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)

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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.

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