THE PRUSSIAN ROYAL FAMILY
Schloss Glienicke, was the Italian-style villa once owned by Prince Charles of Prussia. The third son of King Friedrich Wilhelm III of Prussia had bought the property from the heirs of Prussian prime minister Prince Karl August of Hardenberg in 1825. Prince Charles was a Prussian general and a patron of the arts famous for his sizable collections of art and armour. In his new palace he wished to realise his "dream of Italy". In 1823 Prince Charles had travelled to Italy and was especially impressed by the harmony between landscape, architecture and the classical works of art to be found there. Still in-situ are the many antiquities scattered on the palace's courtyard's façade, many of which were actually gathered by Prince Charles on his travels or gifted to him by other family members.
After Charles’s death in 1883, aged 81, the palace was inherited by his son, Prince Friedrich Carl (1828-1885), but he survived his father by only two years. Prince Friedrich Leopold (1865-1931), son of Friedrich Carl and next owner of the palace, did not enjoy the grandeur of the building, preferring to live in a nearby hunting lodge. He had three sons but it was the third, Franz Joseph Oskar Partick Friedrich Leopold (1895-1959) that outlived his two elder brothers.
At the time of his father’s death in 1931 Schloss Glienicke passed to his cousin, Friedrich Carl (1919–2006), the surviving son of the deceased eldest brother, for reasons of primogeniture. But according to Friedrich Leopold’s mother’s autobiography, Behind the Scenes at the Prussian Court (London, 1939), p. 247, her husband “had made a will in which he left all the works of art which he had inherited from his grandfather and from his mother to Friedrich Leopold who, as the youngest son, would not be left so very well off . . . .”. He owned the seventeenth-century Villa Favorita on Lake Lugano in Switzerland between 1919 and 1932 and died in Switzerland in 1959. Together with his life partner the Baron Friedrich “Fritz” Cerrini de Montevardi (1895–1985), they collected and dealt in works of art, including pieces from the royal family collection that he had inherited; he sold various pieces to the American collector Robert Woods Bliss for his collection in Dumbarton Oaks.
THE SCULPTOR EMIL WOLFF
It is interesting to note that in 1844 Hettner described the Athena thus: “The head of Pallas…is to be counted among the most beautiful and important formations of this goddess, which have come down to us from all over the antiquity. It was found, a few years ago, between Pompeii and Castellamare almost entirely unscathed…Restored as a bust by the talented sculptor Emilio Wolff, it is now in Berlin in the possession of Prince Charles of Prussia”.
Emil Wolff (1802-1879) was an extremely talented German sculptor based in Rome at the time of the Grand Tour, producing contemporary works but also restoring ancient ones in order to appeal to the tastes prevalent at that time. See for example the life-sized Roman Hermes in Berlin (inv. Sk196, Arachne no: 2162) purchased by Wolff in 1845 with later additions by the sculptor. Hermann Hettner, writing in 1844, was a contemporary of Wolff based in Rome at this time. There is no reason to doubt the information of find-spot or the connection to Wolff that he writes of in “Pallas Tritogeneis”.
THE SCHWITTER-LAGUTT COLLECTION
Fridolin Schwitter-Lagutt was the founder of Schwitter AG (Clichéanstalt) in Basel, a printer specialised in fine art books, posters and scientific illustrations, which he grew to international success. He shared a deep passion for art with his wife Halina, and together they started collecting in a wide variety of fields, such as Antiquities, Asian and Pre-Columbian art. Through their work they became close friends with a number of prominent Swiss, Austrian and German artists of the time including Oskar Kokoschka, Walter Kurt Wiemken and painter and archaeologist Fritz Pümpin.
THE ATHENA VESCOVALI
The Athena Vescovali is named after the statue now in the Hermitage, originally in the Falconiere Collection in Rome, and sold in the 19th century by the Roman art dealer Ignazio Vescovali to Nicola Demidoff. She is the most reproduced Athena type with over 30 known copies, however the head type was often muddled with that of the Rospigliosi, with various Vescovali heads being erroneously attached to Rospigliosi body types. In his 1971 article on the Mattei Athena in the Louvre, G. B. Waywell lists the above head as a Rospigliosi-type, alongside three others including no. 1383 in the Chiaramonti Gallery in the Vatican. However in the more recent reassessment of the different Athena types Ina Altripp lists this head as Vescovali type. For the full discussion of the type cf. I. Altripp, Athenastatuen der Spätklassik und des Hellenismus, Cologne, 2010, pp. 108-140. Altripp lists 12 Vescovali type heads, all in National collections apart from this fine head and one other (op. cit. p. 111).
When first published in 1844 (Hettner, Pallas Tritogeneis) the author suggested that the neck had been restored as a bust, however the original circular necklace does seem to be preserved for insertion into a separately made body, with a section of the mantle visible behind. Her eyes are beautifully rendered and the dramatic turn of her neck is elegantly achieved with the typical slight asymmetry of her face. Her hair is loosely pulled back in narrow strands held at her neck. The famous Corinthian helmet atop her head is remarkable in its craftsmanship – showing the skill of the sculptor to achieve the open space between the eyes, nose guard and her head beneath. In this piece one can clearly see the majestic power of the goddess of war on one hand and in her gaze, the tranquillity and serenity of the pacifist.
Plaster copies of this head can be found in the collection of casts at Freie University, Berlin (Arachne no: 3304488) and the Akademisches Kunstmuseum, Bonn (Arachne no: 3000968).