1902 Encyclopedia > Dresden, Saxony

Dresden, Saxony




DRESDEN, the capital of the kingdom of Saxony, is situated in a beautiful and richly cultivated valley on both sides of the Elbe, at an altitude of 402 feet above the level

Plan of Dresden.

of the Baltic, 72 miles E.S.E. of Leipsic, and 116 miles S.E. of Berlin, in 51° 3' N. lat. and 13" 44' E. long. It is approached on almost every side through avenues of trees, and the distance is bounded by gentle eminences covered with plantations and vineyards. On the left bank of the Elbe are the Altstadt, with three suburbs, and Friedrich-stadt (separated from the Altstadt by the Weisseritz, a small affluent of the Elbe) ; on the right the Neustadt and Antonstadt. Two fine brdges connect the Alstadt and Neustadt,—one of them, the old bridge, erected 1727-31, being 1420 feet long, and having 16 arches. The other, built 1846-52, unites the railways on the right and left banks. The streets of the Altstadt are narrow and some-what gloomy ; those of the Neustadt wider and more regular. In 1875 there were 196,378 inhabitants, of whom 138,306 were on the left bank, 58,072 on the right. The vast, majority of the population belong to the Lutheran Church.

On account of its delightful situation, and the many objects of interest it contains, Dresden is often called " the German Florence," a name first applied to it by Herder. The most imposing of the churches is the church of Our Lady, built 1726-45, with a cupola 311 feet high. The Roman Catholic church, built 1737-56, contains a magnificent organ by Silbermann, a number of statues by Mattielli, and pictures by Raphael Mengs, Sylvestre, and other artists. The church of St Sophia, begun in the 14th century, completed in the 16th, and restored in 1864-69, the Cross Church, the Russian church, and the synagogue are also noteworthy buildings. The Royal Palace, rebuilt in 1534 by Duke George, surmounted by a tower 387 feet high, the highest in Dresden, is externally unattractive, but the interior is splendidly decorated. In the palace chapel are pictures by Rembrandt, Nicolas Poussin, Guido Reni, and Annibale Caracci. The Prince's Palace, built in 1715, has a fine chapel, in which are various works of Torelli; it has also a library of 20,000 volumes. The Zwinger, begun in 1711, and built in the Rococo style, forms an inclosure within which is a statue of King Frederick Augustus I. It was intended to be the vestibule to a palace, but now contains a number of collections of great value. Until 1846 it was open at the north side; but this space has since been occupied by the Museum, a beautiful building in the Renaissance style, the exterior of which is adorned by statues of Michelangelo, Raphael, Giotto, Dante, Goethe, and other artists and poets, by Rietschel and Hähnel. The Brühl Palace was built in 1737 by Count Brühl, the minister of Augustus II. Near it is the Brühl Terrace, approached by a grand flight of steps, on which are groups, by Schilling, representing Morning, Evening, Day, and Night. The terrace com-mands a charming view of the Elbe and the surrounding country, and is a favourite promenade. The Japanese Palace, in the Neustadt, built in 1715 as a summer residence for Augustus IL, receives its name from certain Oriental figures with which it is decorated ; it is also some-times called the Augusteum. Connected with it is a public garden, from which, as from the Brühl Terrace, fine views are obtained. Among the remaining buildings of note may be named the guard-house, the arsenal, and the court theatre, an edifice in the Renaissance style, built since 1871 to replace the theatre burnt in 1869. In the Neustadt there is an equestrian statue of Augustus the Strong, erected in 1737. The public monuments of Dresden also include the Maurice Monument, a relief dedicated by the elector Augustus to the memory of his brother; a statue of Weber, the musical composer, by Rietschel ; statues of King Frederick Augustus II. and Theodor Körner, by Hähnel; and the Rietschel monument, on the Brühl Terrace, by Schilling.





The chief pleasure-ground of Dresden is the Grosser Garten, in which there are a summer theatre, the Rietschel Museum, and a chateau containing the Museum of Antiquities. The latter is composed chiefly of objects removed from the churches in consequence of the Reforma-tion. Near the chateau is the zoological garden, formed in 1860, and excellently arranged. A little to the south of Dresden, on the left bank of the Elbe, is the village Räcknitz, in which is Moreau's monument, erected on the spot where he was fatally wounded in 1813. The moun-tains of Saxon Switzerland are seen from this neighbour-hood. On the right bank, the slopes of which are covered with villas, there are several popular places of public resort.

Dresden owes a large part of its fame to its extensive artistic, literary, and scientific collections. Of these the most valuable is its splendid picture gallery, founded by Augustus I. and increased by his successors at great cost. It is in the Museum, and contains about 2500 pictures, being especially rich in specimens of the Italian, Dutch, and Flemish schools. Among the Italian masters represented are Raphael, Titian, Corraggio, Leonardo da Vinci, Paolo Veronese, Andrea del Sarto, Giulio Eomano, Annibale Caracci, Guido Eeni, and Carlo Dolci. Of the Flemish and Dutch schools there are paintings by Rubens, Vandyck, Rembrandt, and Ruysdael, Wouvermann, Dow, Teniers, Ostade, Potter, <fec. The French school is represented, among others, by Poussin and Claude. The gem of the collection is Raphael's Madonna di San Sisto, for which a room is set apart. There is also a special room for the Madonna of the younger Holbein. Other paintings with which the name of the gallery is generally associated are Coreggio's La Notte and Mary Magdalene ; Titian's Tribute Money and Venus ; The Adoration and The Marriage in Cana, by Paolo Veronese; Andrea del Sarto's Abraham's Sacrifice; Rembrandt's Portrait of Himself with his Wife sitting on his Knee; The Judgment of Paris and The Boar Hunt, by Rubens ; Vandyck's Charles I., his Queen, and their Children. In separate compartments there are a number of crayon portraits, most of them by Rosalba Camera, and views of Dresden by Canaletto and other artists. Besides the picture gallery the Museum in-cludes a magnificent collection of engravings and drawings. There are upwards of 350,000 specimens, arranged in twelve classes, so as to mark the great epochs in the history of art. A collection of casts, likewise in the Museum, is designed to display the progress of plastic art from the timeof the Egyp-tians and Assyrians to modern ages. This collection was begun by Raphael Mengs, who secured casts of the most valuable antiques in Italy, some of which no longer exist.

The Japanese Palace contains a public library of more than 300,000 volumes, with about 3000 MSS. and 20,000 maps. This library is especially rich in the ancient classics, and in works bearing on literary history and the history of Germany, Poland, and France. In the Japanese Palace there are also a valuable cabinet of coins and a collection of ancient works of art. A collection of porcelain, formerly in the Japanese Palace, but since 1876 in the " Museum Johanneum " (which once contained the picture gallery), is made up of specimens of Chinese, Japanese, East Indian, Sevres, and Meissen manufacture, carefully arranged in chronological order. There is in the same building an excellent Historical Museum, in which there are many inte-resting relics of past times, besides objects which cast light on the history of races and of manners. In the Green Vault of the Royal Palace, so called from the character of its original decorations, there is an unequalled collection of precious stones, pearls, and works of art in gold, silver, amber, and ivory. The objects, which are about 3000 in number, are arranged in eight rooms. They include the regalia of Augustus II. as king of Poland ; the electoral sword of Saxony; a group by Dinglinger, in gold and enamel, representing the court of the Grand Mogul Aurung-zebe, and consisting of 132 figures upon a plate of silver 4 feet 4 inches square ; the largest onyx known, 6| inches by 2^ inches ; a pearl representing the dwarf of Charles II. of Spain ; and a green brilliant weighing 40 carats. Besides the Green Vault the Royal Palace has a gallery of arms, consisting of more than 2000 weapons of artistic or histori-cal value. In the Zwinger are the Zoological and Minera-logical Museums, and a collection of instruments used in mathematical and physical science.





The two chief art institutions in Dresden are the Royal Academy of Arts, founded in 1764, and the Royal Choir. The Art Union, founded in 1828, which has a permanent exhibition in the Brühl Terrace, is a private body ; and there are a good many other private art societies more or less distinguished. Dresden is also the seat of a number of well-known scientific associations. The educational in-stitutions of the town are both numerous and of a high order, including a technical college with a staff (in 1876) of 39 professors and teachers, three gymnasia, two real schools of the first class, and many schools of different ranks for popular education. The Catholics and Jews have schools of their own; and there are two seminaries for the education of teachers. Dresden has several important hospitals, asylums, and other charitable institutions.

Among the chief branches of industry are manufactures in gold and silver, turnery, straw plait, scientific and musical instruments, paper-hangings, artificial flowers, and painters' canvas. There are several large breweries ; a considerable corn trade is carried on ; and there is an ex-tensive traffic in books and objects of art. A number of steam-ship companies provide for the navigation of the Elbe.

Dresden, which is known to have existed in 1206, is of Slavonic origin. It became the capital of Henry the Illustrious, margrave of Meissen, in 1270, but belonged for some time after his death, first to "Wenceslas of Bohemia, and next to the margrave of Brandenburg. Early in the fourteenth century it was restored to the margrave of Meissen. On the division of the territory in 1485, it fell to the Albertine line, which has since held it. Having been burned almost to the ground in 1491, it was rebuilt; and in the 16th century the fortifications were begun and gradually extended. John George II., in the 17th century, formed the Grosser Garten, and otherwise greatly improved the town ; but it was in the first half of the 18th century, under Augustus I. and Augustus II., who were kings of Poland as well as electors of Saxony, that Dresden assumed something like its present appearance. The Neustadt, which had been burned down in the 17th century, was founded anew by Augustus I.; he also founded Friedrichstadt. The town suffered severely during the Seven Years' War, being bombarded in 1760. Some damage was also inflicted on it in 1813, when Napoleon made it the centre of his operations ; one of the buttresses and two arches of the old bridge were then blown up. The dismantling of the fortifications had been begun by the French in 1810, and was gradually completed after 1817, the space occupied by them being appropriated to gardens and promenades. Many buildings were completed or founded by King Anton, from whom Antonstadt derives its name. Dresden again suffered severely during the revolution of 1849, but all traces of the disturbances which then took place were soon effaced. In 1866 it was occupied by the Prussians, who did not finally evacuate it until the spring of the following year. Since that time numerous improvements have been carried out, and between 1871 and 1875 the population increased at the rate of rather more than 11 per cent. (J. SI.)




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