Green diamond to act as cultural ambassador for Dresden in New York

18 November 2019

Loans from Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden to feature in exhibition at Metropolitan Museum of Art

On 25 November 2019, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York will be opening one of its most important exhibitions of the year under the title “Making Marvels: Science and Splendor at the Courts of Europe”. The exhibition will use an array of impressive objects from treasuries and Kunstkammer (the term used to describe such collections in the German-speaking area) to demonstrate not only how the European rulers of the early modern period expressed their status as sovereigns, but also the splendor and opulence that characterized the competition between them. In addition to treasures beautifully crafted from gold, silver and precious stones, their lavish collections also housed the latest technological innovations in the fields of automata, clocks and unique instruments.

The loan of seventeen objects makes the Grünes Gewölbe at Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden (SKD) one of the principal contributors to the exhibition. Two other members of the SKD network of museums – the Mathematisch-Physikalischer Salon and the Rüstkammer – will also be represented in New York. The most spectacular loan takes the form of a hat ornament featuring the unique Dresden Green Diamond, which is only loaned out on very rare occasions. It combines with the Order of the White Eagle, hat ornament and parade sword from the Sapphire Garniture, a large onyx brooch by Johann Melchior Dinglinger and a sun mask by the same craftsman (part of the Rüstkammer collection) to ensure that the baroque splendor of Augustus the Strong and his son, Augustus III, is fittingly reflected by the exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The acquisition of the Green Diamond in 1742 enabled Augustus III to expand his collection to include one of the most precious and rare diamonds ever found. Characterized by outstanding purity, the 160-grain (41-carat) diamond is a wonder of nature that owes its unique coloration to its exposure to natural radiation in the interior of the earth. It is no less amazing that the diamond is said to have cost an incredible 400,000 thalers. By way of comparison, it cost 288,000 thalers to build and fit out Dresden’s famous Frauenkirche around the time of the stone’s arrival in the city.

The Empire State Building will sparkle in green lights on Monday night, November 18, 2019, to celebrate the exhibition "Making Marvels: Science and Splendor at the Courts of Europe".

In the words of Dirk Syndram, Director of the Grünes Gewölbe and the Rüstkammer: “The exhibition in New York is of extraordinary significance from both an academic and an aesthetic perspective. Never before have such spectacular works of art from treasuries and Kunstkammer forming part of so many important collections been displayed in one place. The eye-catching nature of the Green Diamond makes it a sparkling ambassador for Dresden and Saxony alike.”

The exhibition runs until 1 March 2020.

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