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19th Century German Neo-Classicism

[NEO-CLASSICISM / COSTUME] HIRT, Aloysius / BRÜHL, Karl Friedrich Moritz, Graf von. Die Weihe des EROS URANOS. Ein festlicher Aufzug mit Tanzen. Gegeben den 8 ten Januar 1818 in weissen Saale des Königlichen Schlosses, zur hohen Vermählungsfeier…des Prinzen Friedrich von Preussen…. Berlin, Wittich, 1818.

Oblong folio [24.5 x 29 cm], vi, 21 pp., 12 consecutively numbered plates of costumes handfinished in sumptuous contemporary color, the first signed F. Jügel after H. Stürmer, and a final black and white plate signed G.W. Hüllmann after Stürmer. Bound in intermediate publisher’s binding of contemporary boards, spine renewed, with printed title label. Some inconsequential tears in blank lower margin of some leaves, one quire a bit loose. Generally very good copy with the plates in splendid color.


Rare first edition of this record of an extravagant pageant-ballet performed at the Wilhelmine court of William Friedrich III, first performed for his nephew and niece and encored for the King himself about a month later. The festival program featured gods, personification and other mythological or historical characters from Graeco-Roman antiquity, with a small contingent of medieval characters. The characters were enacted and danced by high ranking members of the German nobility (listed in the program, as is the equally tony list of the publication’s subscribers).

What is most interesting is the ancient component had a scholarly advisor in Aloysius Hirt (1759-1836), who signs the explanations of the individual figures on p. 15. Although the tradition of employing a scholarly advisor for festival presentations was not unknown even in the 16th century, assigning this role to the dominant theorist of Franco-Prussian Neo-Classicism suggests a level of historicist scruple, perhaps even pedantry, which we have never encountered in a festival book. This is particularly interesting in the matter of how the costumes were carefully derived from ancient statuary and how the costumes were colored – very brightly.

Much influenced by Winckelmann, in turn the teacher of Schinkel, Hirt was the first professor of Art History at the newly founded (1810) University of Berlin.

OCLC records four copies: Harvard, Princeton, Atlanta Historic Centre, Austin. We have also located a copy at the Getty.

* Lipperheide 2535; Vinet 702; Getty record.

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