Panel “Procession of Princes”
The “Procession of Princes” or “Princely Procession” (Fürstenzug) panel is a wall tile panel from the famous Meissen porcelain in Dresden. The panel is laid out on the outside of the Long Gallery building – part of the former Stables yard. As the name implies, the panel depicts a solemn equestrian procession and is one of the most famous attractions of the old city of Dresden.
The “Procession of Princes” panel is the world’s largest wall tile image in the world.
Its total area is 957 square meters, its length is 120 meters, its height is 10.5 meters, and the number of porcelain tiles measuring 20 × 20 centimeters required for its manufacture reaches 25 thousand.
The monumental image, larger than life-size, shows a cavalcade of all 34 Saxon marquises, dukes, electors and kings of the Vettin family, who ruled from 1127 to 1873.
The connoisseurs of history are struck by the amazing portrait similarity of all the characters, as well as the historically accurate details of the costumes, vestments and weapons of various eras. Each ruler is depicted in the order of his accession to the throne, indicating his name and period of rule.
In addition to the rulers, the panel also depicts 59 members of the retinue, artisans, soldiers, peasants, as well as famous scientists and artists. The first depicted is Conrad the Great (reign of 1093–1157), the founder of the Vettin dynasty. In the procession there is no last king of Saxony – Frederick Augustus III, since at the time of the creation of the panel, he was an eight-year-old child. Concluding his work, the artist Wilhelm Walter portrayed himself.
Already in 1589, the northern wall of the Stallhof stables (courtyard) of the complex of the Dresden Palace-residence was decorated with a painting made of lime paints.
In place of the old image for the eight hundredth anniversary of the ruling house by the historical painter Wilhelm Walther, the painting “Procession of Princes” was created. The painting was done in black and white using the Italian sgraffito technique – when the drawing is scratched from two layers of lime paint applied to each other. The work lasted four years – from 1872 to 1876. However, by the beginning of the 20th century, the picture began to deteriorate under the influence of weather conditions.
In order to preserve the masterpiece, it took another four years – in 1904–1907 the image of the “Princely Procession” was transferred to tiles from Meissen porcelain.
For this, the latest technique at that time was applied. At first, the picture was divided into many small squares, then it was transferred to paper, then the drawings were copied onto tiles previously pre-burnt at a temperature of 1380 degrees using special refractory paints, and finally the tiles were burnt again.
During the bombing of Dresden of World War II, the panel was almost not damaged. Updated only 200 tiles.
The panel “Procession of Princes” can be viewed for a very long time. Besides the fact that this is almost a visual illustration of the thousand-year history of Saxony, the image is full of amazing details and symbols.
Although the panel “Princely Procession” is made on porcelain, it looks like a huge carpet. At the top, even carnations are specially painted on which the canvas seems to be hanging. Numerous birds and plants adorn the image.
It is interesting, for example, that the horse of King Augustus the Strong tramples a rose. Different versions interpret this symbol differently. Perhaps, Augustus’s conversion to Catholicism is reflected here, or this is a hint at one of Augustus’s many love stories, because a trampled rose is a symbol of a broken heart.
Or an image of the brothers Ernst and Albrecht. It is known that their father, Elector Frederick II, bequeathed to them to rule the country together. On the canvas, the father is depicted holding the hands of both brothers together. Unfortunately, this did not help. Some time after the death of his father, the elder brother Ernst ousted the younger one, and it was his heirs who ruled it further. By the way, while still teenagers, both princes were abducted with a ransom demand. Their savior, in gratitude for this, is also depicted in the panel.
As usual, the family has its black sheep, Albert Degenerated (Albrecht der Entartete) is also depicted here. Albert got such a nickname because he squandered his entire fortune and sold his family lands. The unflattering nickname on the panel is absent, but on the way Albert grew unequivocally burdock. The panel “Princely Procession” will tell attentive visitors many interesting stories that have accumulated in abundance over more than a thousand-year history of the Vettin clan.
To see the unique panel “Procession of Princes” is considered a must-see for every tourist arriving in Dresden. The panel is in the public domain, admission is free.