We knew we were getting closer as there were more souvenir kiosks with the mural on anything and everything you could think of. We turned the corner, and my jaw dropped. Wait! What? It was HUGE! In my travel guide there had only been perhaps 5% of the mural reproduced, and it was without any contextual clues for scale. This mural took up almost the entire side of the building, and it stretched down the entire block, all the way to the castle square.
It was still early in the morning, and the street beside the mural was shockingly vacant. There was just one lone bicycle chained up. Perfect. The Procession of Princes, the Fürstenzug, reminded me vaguely of the opening sequence to Disney’s animated feature Robin Hood (1973), where there’s a parade of nobility and squires in period dress proceeding through the opening credits. I wonder if this is where the animated had received their inspiration?
To celebrate the anniversary in 1889 of 800 years of the rule of the House of Wettin, a new fresco was commissioned to replace one with limewash existing for three hundred years (since 1589) that was nearly invisible on the outer wall of the Stables Courtyard.
Wilhelm Walther (1826-1913) used the sgraffito, from the Italian word graffiare meaning to scratch, technique on stucco, to provide more detail. I have not been able to discover why Wilhelm Walther was chosen for this work, or much about the artist in general. He includes himself as a self portrait at the end of the mural. If you know of any resources on him in English, please let me know in the comments below.
The mural is a visual timeline of almost all the rulers between 1127 until 1904, thirty-five rulers in all, each in their own time period’s costume, mounted on a horse. There are fifty-nine walking figures representing various walks of life, farmers, children, etc. There is only one girl in the entire mural, look for a little girl at the end of the procession. The gentleman at the very, very end with the beard is the artist Wilhelm Walther.
This new mural deteriorated very quickly, and only twenty-eight years later, the painting was replaced with the same design, but utilizing over twenty thousand Meissen porcelain tiles. At three hundred and thirty-five feet long, it is known as the largest porcelain artwork in the world. By some wonderful stroke of luck, the porcelain tiles only suffered minimal damage during the February 13-15, 1945 city-wide bombing of Dresden.
Hopefully third time's a charm for the mural! Again, if you know anything else about the artist Wilhelm Walther, please fill us in! I'd love to learn more. Tell us in the comments below.
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