Napoleon Series Archive 2015

Johann Gottfried Schadow, 1764-1850.
The Quadriga on Top of the Brandenburg Gate.

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"Friedrich Wilhelm II (1744 – 1797), the King of Prussia from 1786 to 1797, wanted to build a highly decorated ‘Brandenburg Gate’ as a response to his feelings of power. Therefore, the old Brandenburg Gate had to be demolished and architect Carl Gotthard Langhans (1733 – 1808) and artist Gottfried Schadow (1764 – 1850) were asked to design a monumental gate. This assignment took place in the year of the French Revolution, 1789. The theme of the quadriga would be a ‘Triumph of Peace’, which had a rather utopian undertone in those times of continuous war and political trouble.

The quadriga depicted the goddess Victoria, who leads the four horses (the four directions of the world) to bring peace to Attica. There were even plans to have the quadriga gold-plated, but that did not happen. The brand new Bran-denburg Gate was opened on the 6th of August 1791, but still without the quadriga. The final addition with the four horses and the carriage with Victoria followed towards the end of 1793.

However, its position as a victorious monument did not last long. Emperor Napoleon I (1769 – 1821) beat the Prussian army in the battle near Jena and Auerstadt on the 14th October 1806 and marched into Berlin. The quadriga was taken down by Napoleon’s troops in the autumn of 1806 and carried away early the next year as the spoils of war to France. The dismantled monument made its trip over sea from Hamburg to the French harbor of St. Nicolai and arrived in good order in Paris. There it was re-assembled again and intended to figure in a proposed ‘Museum of European art’. Fortunately, this project (of stolen art) was never realized, because Napoleon’s campaigns ended in defeat.

In the meantime, Victoria and her horses remained in the ‘Musée Napoléon’ for another eight years in obscurity and was finally found by Fieldmarchal Gebhart von Blücher (1742 – 1819), who marched into Paris in April 1814. The well-preserved quadriga was subsequently returned (this time over land by six carts and in fifteen crates) to Berlin in 1814, in a glorious tour along various cities (Liege, Aachen, Düsseldorf and Braunschweig). King Friedrich Wilhelm III and his troops were the first to cross the restored gate in great ceremonial aplomb. Artists like Karl Wilhelm Kolbe depicted the quadriga in its new glory." https://quadralectics.wordpress.com/3-contemplation/3-9-monuments/3-9-1-gates-and-arches/
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Johann Gottfried Schadow, 1764-1850: https://repository.library.brown.edu/studio/search_results/?search_terms=all_names%3ASchadow&scope=Search
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"Fechstunde" (The Fencing Lesson). The work is by the Prussian artist Johann Gottfried Schadow (1764-1850).
Although best known as a sculptor, Schadow drew many political caricatures during the war.
The watercolor is from the Anne S.K. Brown Military Collection at the Brown University Library.
http://www.wdl.org/en/item/2944/