Bode Museum: God sculptures by Andreas Schlter move to Berlin Castle

Gods are moving
:Sculptures by Andreas Schlter change location in Berlin

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    Gerhard Lehrke

Around the Grand Kurfsten on horseback, the colossi wait for the removal.

Around the Grand Kurfsten on horseback, the colossi wait for the removal. In the background is Friedrich I., the client for the sculptures by Andreas Schlter.


Bernd Friedel

They are three meters high, 1.5 tonnes heavy and yet very sensitive: Four colossal statues were on Monday from the Bode Museum to their old location, the Berlin Castle, brought back. And very carefully. The four statues were wrapped in plastic wrap. Standing they were lifted with a forklift on a low loader and then drove the few hundred meters from the Bode Museum to the castle.

Sculptures were formerly in the Schlterhof of the Berlin Castle

The sand dunes from Saxon sandstone had been dismantled shortly before the demolition of the old castle in 1950. In contrast to many hundreds of other sculptures and facade elements, they were not destroyed, but brought to the Bode Museum. There they stood under the dome just behind the entrance.

They look a bit battered, though they have been restored several times. Zeus, the lord of the Olympian gods, lacks the right arm, in which he had probably held a lightning bolt as a distinctive sign. A female figure, who is probably one of the nine ancient muses, is similar.

This is how the sculpture hall on the Spree side of the Humboldt Forum looks like.

This is how the sculpture hall on the Spree side of the Humboldt Forum looks like.


SHF / Exhibition design:

She also lacks the arm that held her attribute – a flute, a writing board or a theater mask – so that no one knows what art to represent. Another figure depicts the fabled hunter Meleager, who has a boar tucked under his arm. The lost muzzle of the boar was modeled from tin. Only the demigod Herakles, shouldered the club, is still largely intact.

The four figures once stood on the Risaliten in Schlterhof of the castle, along with four other statues: Apollo, Antinous, Hermes the messenger of the gods and another female figure. These four are still in the Schlossbauhtte in Spandau and will later be brought to the Forum.

Andreas Schlter created the figures according to ancient models

The eight original statues will now be erected on loan from the Bode Museum in a sculpture hall on the Spree side of the Humboldt Forum. They should no longer be exposed to rain, wind and air pollution that have almost blackened them.

In their place, eight copies are placed on the risalites, also carved from Saxon sandstone and almost completed. However, they too will be destined to turn black, said Alfred Hagemann, head of the “History of the Place” in the Humboldt Forum.

The colossi were created between 1704 and 1706 by the workshop of the architect and sculptor Andreas Schlter (1659-1714). Hans-Ulrich Kessler, a researcher at the Bode Museum and Schlter-Kenner, rates his accomplishments: “He cited ancient models, but did not blindly copy them.”

Andreas Schltter was appointed castle architect in 1699

The native Danziger Schlter was in 1694 by the Brandenburg margrave and Elector Friedrich III. to the court sculptor and 1699 then appointed the castle building director. The Elector had him extend the existing Renaissance castle and remodel baroque. Frederick wanted to increase his reputation in the European power structure in order to obtain a more important title as Elector, which he succeeded in 1701. He became King Frederick I in Prussia. The stony presence of gods and demigods was intended to enhance the lords Frederick, this Baroque prince competed with the rulers in Paris or Vienna.

A crane called Spider raises Hercules for transportation.

A crane called Spider raises Hercules for transportation.


Bernd Friedel

Schlter brought the work for the new king no luck. The construction of a 96-meter-high tower for the nearby royal coin failed, there was a fatal accident, and the tower, already built 60 meters high, had to be demolished because of the swampy ground. Schlter saw himself intrigued by his competitor Johann Friedrich Eosander von Gthe and was dismissed in 1707 as a castle master builder, but initially remained court sculptor.

Andreas Schlter’s most famous work: Equestrian Statue of the Great Elector Friedrich Wilhelm

Schlter’s most famous work in Berlin is the equestrian statue of Frederick’s father, the Great Elector Friedrich Wilhelm, who once stood on the Rathausbrcke, then called Lange Brcke. Now the monumental work stands in the courtyard of Charlottenburg Palace. A copy is exhibited under the dome of the Bode Museum on the original pedestal. Also famous are the stony faces of dying warriors at the arsenal, the weapons arsenal of the Brandenburgers, on which Schlter had helped build.

Andreas Schlter died in St. Petersburg after he had entered the service of the Tsar.