Arts & Culture

View of the Flower of Greece

August Wilhelm Julius Ahlborn (after Schinkel)1836

Alte Nationalgalerie, National Museums in Berlin
Alte Nationalgalerie, National Museums in Berlin

Against the background of an ideal Greek townscape, naked heroes are constructing an Ionic temple with a double row of columns. The motif of the procession on the frieze of the temple is of reminiscent of that the Parthenon. The painting captures the moment when the last marble block of the frieze is being heaved into position with a considerable expenditure of effort. The block has come from a temporary workshop where work on other sculptures is already under way. Schinkel’s design for the columns goes back to earlier examples from antiquity. It is possible that he was influenced by engravings (owned by his teacher Friedrich Gilly) of Hadrian’s Villa in Tivoli. The Greek inscription to the left on the temple wall quotes Aristotle’s hymn to the virtues of battle and to death on the battlefield. The men working by this inscription have stopped for a moment and are looking towards where soldiers are returning from war. As in other works, Schinkel is alluding here to the Napoleonic wars and Prussia’s struggle for independence. In addition there are also thoughts of Greece breaking free from Turkish rule, which had almost been achieved at the time when this picture was painted. This programmatic piece by Schinkel reveals both his view of the world and of art: “The landscape shows the great cultural wealth of a highly cultivated people who understand how to use everything in nature in order to win from it a higher level of life both for the individual and for the people in general.” In his view, the construction of a temple was the crowning glory of an ordered society and symbolic of an improved world order. In his vision of a new Athens, Schinkel was referring to his own architectural project in Berlin to create an Athens on the Spree river. In his designs for the columned hall of the museum at the Lustgarten, he employed the same stylistic means as in this temple. Similarly, the monument in the central plane in depth is clearly reminiscent of Albert Wolff’s lion fighter and August Kiß’s Amazon which decorate the stairs of the Altes Museum. Schinkel’s original version of this painting has been lost. However, it was preserved for posterity by Wilhelm Ahlborn who copied it in 1826 and again in 1836.

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Details

  • Title: View of the Flower of Greece
  • Creator: August Wilhelm Julius Ahlborn (after Schinkel)
  • Date Created: 1836
  • Viewing Notes: Karl Friedrich Schinkel (* 13 March 1781, Neuruppin, Germany; † 9 October 1841, Berlin, Germany) Karl Friedrich Schinkel was the foremost Prussian architect, city planner and a painter. From 1772 to 1800 he studied architecture under Friedrich Gilly and his father in Berlin. After a journey to Italy, he began work as an independent painter in 1805. In 1816 he created the scenery for Mozart’s opera The Magic Flute, including the stage for the Queen of the Night scene, adorned with stars, which has since become iconic. Despite such successes, he decided to devote himself to architecture. He became famous as one of the most prominent German architects and created Neoclassical as well as Neo-Gothic buildings, mainly in Berlin and surrounding towns. Well known landmarks of his making include the Berlin Altes Museum on Museum Island, the Neue Wache (1816–18) and the Schauspielhaus (1819–21) at Gendarmenmarkt. In 1826 he also produced the plans for Charlottenhof Palace and St. Nikolaikirche, both in Potsdam. His style stands out for its pronounced Greek influence, while in his later years he applied Neo-Gothic elements such as can be seen in the brickwork of Friedrichswerder Church (1824–31).
  • Style: Romantik
  • Provenance: Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
  • Physical Dimensions: w235.0 x h94.0 cm
  • Original Title: Blick in Griechenlands Blüte
  • Credit Line: Text: © Prestel Verlag / Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin / Birgit Verwiebe Photo: �� b p k - Photo Agency / Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin / Jörg P. Anders
  • Type: Painting
  • Medium: Oil on canvas

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