Dresden dedicates large exhibition to art and the Thirty Years’ War



Berlin, Jul 7 (EFE) .- The Residenz Palace in Dresden presented on Wednesday the exhibition “Bellum et Artes. Saxony and Central Europe in the Thirty Years War”, with works from eleven museums and institutions from eight countries , including the Prado de Madrid.

“Virtually all of Europe was affected by the 30-year war,” said the director of the Dresden Art Collections (SKD), Marion Brinkmann, at the opening press conference.

This led to the idea of ​​international cooperation to hold a large exhibition to show the various roles that art had in the conflict.

“The idea came up during a trip to Prague in 2017,” said Dyrk Syntrum, director of the Grüne Gewolbe museum in Dresden, one of the initiators of the exhibition.

The result is the exhibition that will be shown for 5 years, until 2025, and that consists of about 150 objects among which there are not only works of art but also weapons that were used during the war, such as pistols, swords and grenades.

In the exhibition there are objects from museums in Germany, the Czech Republic, Sweden, Poland, Austria, Spain and Belgium, although the thematic focus is on the repercussions of the war for Central Europe.

The absence of French museums may come as a bit of a surprise, especially considering Cardinal Richelieu, who chose to ally himself with Protestant Sweden in order to increase the power of France in Europe.

“It is true that there are no objects from French museums but in the exhibition you will find Richelieu next to his ally King Gustav Adolf of Sweden”, Syntrum explained.

The war, which began in 1618 with the so-called defenestration of Prague – two imperial emissaries were thrown by an advantage by Protestant rebels – is considered one of the most dramatic episodes in the history of Europe and that led to some regions losing up to two thirds of its population.

At the beginning, at least in an apparent way, it was a struggle between the religious confessions but later it became above all in the search for hegemony in Europe accompanied by migratory flows, famines and epidemics.

In the midst of all the desolation that occurred above all in Central Europe, art continued to play an important role in those three decades from various points of view.

On the one hand, it had a representative function for the powerful. It also had a diplomatic use, through gifts of artistic objects and was also a highly prized war loot, which led to works and art and entire libraries going from one side of Europe to another.

The most spectacular artistic looting, according to the organizers, was that perpetrated by Swedish troops in Prague in 1648 who took a large number of works from the collection of Emperor Rudolph II to Stockholm.

At the same time, art assumed a role of documentation of the horrors of war. Such is the case of Stefano de la Bella’s engravings, such as “Death rides on the battlefield” or “Death carrying a child”, or the oil painting “Allegory of war” by Peter Paul Rubens which shows first shot a woman crying and in the background a scene of war

Parallel to the exhibition, two books have appeared. One dedicated to the Thirty Years’ War in Central Europe and another specifically focused on Saxony, the German federal state of which Dresden is the capital.

Saxony had a unique role in the 30-year war since the Elector John George, despite being a Protestant, was initially at the side of the Emperor Ferdinand II, considering that the priority should be the maintenance of the Holy Roman Empire. Germanic.

Finally, Juan Jorge ended up playing a mediating role that was key towards the end of the war. Saxony even gained territories despite which, according to SKD director Marion Brinkmann, the region cannot be considered the winner of the war.

“The war stopped the industrial evolution of Saxony. In the 30-year war there were no winners,” acknowledged Brinkmann.

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