Monument to Frederick the Great in Berlin

Monument to Frederick the Great in Berlin
Monument to Frederick the Great in Berlin
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This is a neoclassical work by the German sculptor Christian David Rauch (1777 – 1857) who achieved enormous prestige in his time and produced important works of character very official during the first half of the 19th century and until his death, such as this monument, or his achievements inside the Berlin Cathedral and even the Sepulcher for Queen Maria Cristina.

Frederick the Great Monument in Berlin

Frederick the Great Monument in Berlin

Specifically, this monument was made in a period of maximum maturity, since it is a work completed in 1851, and of course it is clearly a monument of neoclassical style.

It is an equestrian statue, which immediately refers us to models from the Antiquity, with the statue of Marcus Aurelius, as a paradigm of all of them, including the later ones of the Renaissance art, such as that of the Condottiero Gattamelata located in Padua and made by Donatello.

However, there are variations. For example, here under the large sculpture of a horse and knight cast in bronze there is a pedestal with several staggered levels, something that is not very common. But also on those levels it is not that there are reliefs alluding to the most important episodes in the life of Frederick II the Great but rather there are round sculptures, on a smaller scale,to capture those vital events of the Prussian ruler.

However, despite this innovation, the truth is that the equestrian statue follows all the classic patterns, something that during the years of Neoclassicism official commissions will repeat until satiety. And we say that they are based on classical or Renaissance works because of a very obvious characteristic. In general, horses only lift one of their legs, while in this type of Baroque style works, such as the one erected in Spain in honor of Felipe IV, horses usually raise the two front legs. Something that was maintained during rococo art, as shown by the imposing monument to Tsar Peter the Great made by the French sculptor Falconet.

In general terms, these types of sculptures from the neoclassical period are very calm, and not only because of the legs. The models, both the character and the horse, pose calmly, not in full battle. His movement is reduced to the minimum expression, something that translates into a single plane. In other words, at most the character appears looking to one side, in profile, while his body and also the horse face forward.

Somehow, the Monument of Frederick II the Great made in 1851 by Rauch, can be considered as the closing of a long tradition of equestrian statues of rulers. Because practically no more will be made of this style and with these dimensions.

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