The collection of applied art reflects both princely collectors’ need for representation and their specific interests. The objects combine precious materials, great artistic skill and demonstrate the collectors’ humanistic erudition and their desire to capture space and time. Economic considerations and scientific love of experimentation advanced the arts and led, amongst other things, to the invention of European porcelain.
The collection comprises the ducal stock of Italian majolica, Limoges enamel, precious objects, clocks, historical furniture, princely arms, glasses, glyptics, Fürstenberg porcelain, faience and Wedgewood ceramics. In the late 19th century the collection of porcelain from Fürstenberg and other manufactories, faience, stoneware and glasses was systematically expanded. The outstanding collection of lace was acquired in the 20th century.
The extensive collection of Italian majolica was mainly established by Duke Anton Ulrich and presented in a special cabinet at Schloss Salzdahlum. The objects were transferred to the Herzogliches Kunst- und Naturalienkabinett (ducal cabinet of curiosities) at the Pauline Monastery in Brunswick in 1765.
The collection consists exclusively of 16th century objects and reflects the Baroque taste. Most exhibits are characterized by narrative depictions (so-called Istoriato painting) with mythological themes and subjects from classical antiquity and so the collection differs radically from collections based on art historical principles. In this way, the collection documents the rich variety of this genre, while the abundance of majolica production from its beginnings to the period of historicism is pushed into the background.
The collection of Limoges enamel also goes back to Duke Anton Ulrich and was displayed in a small cabinet at Schloss Salzdahlum. Together with the majolica collection it was transferred to the Kunst- und Naturalienkabinett in Brunswick in 1765. With its roughly 230 objects, this collection is today one of the largest worldwide.
The collection of the Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum gives an overview of the development of the high-quality production of the enamel workshops in Limoges which were awarded a royal charter by the French kings in the 15th and 16th centuries. The Brunswick collection includes works by all the important enamellers, including several outstanding pieces by Pierre Courteys (c. 1520- c. 1586) who was among the most renowned enamellers from Limoges during the Renaissance. A particularly impressive work is a tazza with a lid, decorated with Neptune and sea creatures.
This collection, today comprising roughly 440 objects, has been attested as a museum collection since 1754.
The collection has its origins in the “Preziosen und allerley andere Kunstsachen” (precious objects and a variety of other artifacts) that were compiled by Duke Carl I as a new section when the “Herzogliches Kunst- und Naturalienkabinett” was established. Alongside precious individual objects, the core of this collection are the various different works by gold- and silversmiths as well as stone cutters.
The once substantial collection of hollowware and treasure art mainly served as princely representation and was a significant asset at the same time. In the 18th century, these reserves were used to pay off debt.
It was not only during World War II that many of the precious objects suffered damage or were destroyed. Even in the late 18th century there were great losses. Yet the collection still retains a large number of important artefacts that are typical of a cabinet of curiosities. There are also some remarkable individual works such as two watercolors by Johan Henrik Schildt (1678-1732), the outstanding steel box by the Huguenot Pierre Fromery (1659-1738), and a bowl with lid and saucer in blue enamel which is decorated with ivory medallions. These show portraits of Friedrich V of Denmark and his ancestors.
The early products of the ducal manufactory in Fürstenberg, founded in 1747 by Duke Carl I, are at the center of this collection.
The exhibits are artistically outstanding products of the Fürstenberg manufactory from the beginnings to the middle of the 19th century and thus demonstrate in exemplary fashion the development in production from late Baroque to late Neo-Classicism.
The collection is characterised by a large number of rare items and unique specimen. One of the particularly interesting focal points are the small busts in biscuit porcelain representing heads based on antique and contemporary models. These objects are from the ducal Kunst- und Naturalienkabinet. Other remarkable items include early works, a dinner service decorated by Pascha Johann Friedrich Weitsch (1723-1803) with depictions of landscapes of the Brunswick region, and an extensive collection of vases.
Since the end of the 19th century this collection has been systematically extended and now includes 1,400 objects. It is thus the largest individual collection in the field of applied art and the largest of its kind worldwide.
The roughly 250 items that are not from Fürstenberg are a collection of services and figures from a variety of European manufactories from the 18th and 19th centuries.
One of the most important works in the collection of applied art is a Medici porcelain vessel from the ducal collections. It was created around 1575/80 in the workshops of Grand Duke Francesco I de Medici (1574-1587) where the driving ambition was to create ceramic ware that was on a par with Chinese porcelain. The results are, however, clearly different from porcelain as they contain a relatively large proportion of vitreous substances. The Brunswick vessel is especially outstanding and differs from most of the other roughly 60 Medici porcelain objects still extant in that it is painted in different colors. Only the British Museum and a private collector have a comparable item. The landscape surrounding the body of the vessel shows a fort-like building reminiscent of the Castel Sant’ Angelo in Rome. The vessel was originally in the shape of a vase. After the ends of the handles had broken off, it was redesigned as a watering can in the early 17th century by adding gilded silver applications. These additions underline the great appreciation that the object enjoyed from the beginning.
The collection of Wedgwood ceramics comprises roughly 95 objects and has been attested as a museum collection since 1775.
About a third of the inventory, three sets of vases and two reliefs were acquired by Duke Carl I for the Kunst- und Naturalienkabinett. Most of the other objects, usually dinner sets, were given to the collection as a donation.
The Wedgwood vases acquired by Carl I for the Kunst- und Naturalienkabinett served as formal models for the Fürstenberg porcelain manufactory. Together with the corresponding items of the Fürstenberg collection, this collection is a significant representation of the neo-classical period in the permanent collection of the Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum.
This collection was built up in connection with the arts and crafts movement around 1870, but its development came to a halt as early as 1906. A part of the collection was given to the Städtisches Museum (municipal museum).
This collection comprising about 100 pieces was established around 1880 in connection with the arts and crafts movement which was popular in the second half of the 19th century.
The inventory gives an overview of the most important centers of German stoneware production. Within the larger department of European ceramics, the collection which consists mainly of pieces from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, closes the gap between Italian majolica and porcelain.
Although the glass collection was only established as an independent collection around 1880, its roughly 130 items also include glass from the Herzogliches Kunst- und Naturalienkabinett.
Apart from a few individual items, the collection of modern glass is based on acquisitions and bequests from the last quarter of the 19th and the first half of the 20th century.
The focal point of the glass collection is German hollow glassware of the 18th century. An especially outstanding item is the huge lidded goblet, measuring 76.5 cm in height, decorated with the portrait of Duke Ludwig Rudolph (1671-1735). With regard to its artistic quality, the glass collection is on a par with the other collections that the dukes acquired and are now exhibited at the Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum.
This small collection department, comprising about 35 items, was established more recently to accommodate the small inventory of unglazed pottery.
The objects that form part of this collection consist mainly of hunting scenes and chinoiserie figures from the 17th and the first half of the 18th century and are of art historical importance. The collection also contains an immensely valuable Böttger-stoneware figure which marks the beginning of European porcelain production.
The collection of historical furniture comprises roughly 250 individual items and can be attested as a museum collection from 1765 onwards.
The core collection consists mainly of cabinets from the beginning of the 17th century to the middle of the 18th century that were produced for the storage and presentation of collectors’ items.
The collection not only comprises traditional art furniture, but also some very valuable small pieces of furniture that can only be displayed in showcases.
A special section of the collection consists of roughly 150 Baroque consoles that originally served as furniture for porcelain cabinets, and some Baroque pedestals for large-scale works of art. More recently, the still extant furnishing of the Museum from the 19th century has gradually been integrated into the collection.
This relatively small collection consisting of 24 objects can be attested as a museum collection since 1765 and boasts a number of artistically outstanding items.
Despite its small scale, this collection attracts the interest of both experts and the general public.
Most of the clocks are from the possession of the dukes and formed part of the once very extensive mathematical-physical collection. The core collection was acquired by the Collegium Carolinum in the last quarter of the 18th century where it subsequently vanished completely. Within the framework of an exchange among the museums in Brunswick in the early 20th century, two astrolabes from around 1600 were given to the Braunschweigisches Landesmuseum. Among the most important pieces of the current collection are the ball bearing clock which was produced in Brunswick, the mirror clock, the clock on an inclined plane and the alarm clock with an ignition mechanism.
With its 12 objects, this collection is also small and was only established as a museum collection in 1850.
The weapons collection consists mainly of precious, artistically designed state weapons that served as representational arms for the dukes.
Until the beginning of the 20th century there was a considerable number of weapons which were displayed in the department of so-called Geschichtliche Merkwürdigkeiten (historical curiosities). This collection was taken over almost completely by the Braunschweigisches Landesmuseum in 1904 in connection with the exchange programme (see entry under “Clocks”). The two immensely valuable state weapons, acquired only in 1898/99 – the wheel-lock rifle of Duke Julius (1528-1589) and the crossbow that belonged to Duke Heinrich Julius (1564-1613) – were exempt from this exchange.
The collection of textiles and lace numbers roughly 500 objects. It consists mainly of about 80 medieval items (see Medieval Collection) and roughly 400 lacework objects that were acquired in 1942.
The lacework bought in the first half of the 20th century includes Italian, French and Belgian works from the Renaissance and Baroque periods which were collected in the 19th century by Helene Vieweg-Brockhaus, the wife of a Brunswick publisher. This collection of extraordinarily high quality is characterised by its technical diversity and the fact that it contains large, uncut pattern repeats.
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Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum
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Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum