Court Culture in Dresden: From Renaissance to Baroque by H. Watanabe-O'Kelly

By H. Watanabe-O'Kelly

This is often the 1st cultural heritage of Baroque Dresden, the capital of Saxony and crucial Protestant territory within the Empire from the mid-sixteenth to the early eighteenth century. Helen Watanabe-O'Kelly exhibits how the paintings patronage of the Electors matches into the highbrow weather of the age and investigates its political and spiritual context. Lutheran church song and structure, the effect of Italy, the cupboard of curiosities and the tradition of amassing, alchemy, mining and early expertise, reliable image-making and courtroom theatre are the various wealth of colorful matters handled throughout the interval 1553 to 1733.

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207. Deutsche Fotothek (Richter). representative. He would thus provide a European barrier against Islam but also curb the power of the Emperor. But from the time of his Italian journey in 1549 these political manoeuvrings went hand in hand with cultural interests. In Mantua Moritz probably visited Giulio Romano’s Sala dei Giganti in the Palazzo del Tè, completed in 1535. This may have influenced the design for the twelve larger than life-size frescoes of giants in the Riesensaal or Hall of the Giants completed in 1553 in the Palace in Dresden3 (Figure 13).

It is dated 1606 and dedicated to the young prince August (1589–1615), the younger brother of Christian II and Johann Georg I. In September 1612 a whole series of biblical plays by Hans Zihler was performed for the christening of Christian Albrecht, Johann Georg I’s firstborn son who died in infancy. On 2 September ‘Ruth’ was performed, on 8 September ‘Isaac’ and on 9 September ‘Mose’, ‘Jael’ und ‘Jephte’. 60 Our knowledge of dramatic performances at the Dresden court is largely based on the detailed diaries and assorted paperwork relating to 30 Court Culture in Dresden festivities produced by the Oberhofmarschallamt, or Chamberlain’s department, at the time and preserved today in the Hauptstaatsarchiv in Dresden.

It therefore turned its back on the old miracle and mystery plays of the Middle Ages which had dramatised the Christmas and Easter stories. The ‘historia’ fills precisely this gap. Although as a form it cannot be called a drama in the narrowest sense of the word, it inhabits an area between the church and the theatre, and its purpose is not narrowly ecclesiastical. The full title of Schütz’s Easter ‘historia’ of 1623 makes this clear: ‘Historia der frölichen und Siegreichen Aufferstehung unsers einigen Erlösers und Seligmachers Jesu Christi, In Fürstlichen Capellen oder Zimmern umb die Osterliche zeit zu geistlicher Christlicher Recreation füglichen zugebrauchen, In die Music ubersetzet Durch Henrich Schützen Churf.

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