Sculpture Collection and Museum of Byzantine Art


in short

The Sculpture Collection and the Museum of Byzantine Art arose out of the 'Department of Works of Art of Christian Epochs', which was founded in 1883 by Wilhelm von Bode. In 1904 the Department moved into the new Bode Museum.
Bode-Museum, Museumsinsel Berlin-Mitte
© Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Foto: Atelier Tesar
Logo: Sculpture Collection and Museum of Byzantine Art

Sculpture Collection and Museum of Byzantine Art

in detail

The collection of the Sculpture Collection

The Sculpture Collection possesses works from the Early Middle Ages to the late eighteenth century. Italian sculpture is a particular area of emphasis. Major medieval pieces, such as the Madonna by Presbyter Martinus and the Man of Sorrows by Giovanni Pisano, lead on to masterpieces of the early Renaissance. Glazed terracottas by Luca della Robbia, Donatello's Pazzi Madonna and the portrait busts by Desiderio da Settignano, Francesco Laurana and Mino da Fiesole are all highlights of the collection as well as marbles and bronzes by Gianlorenzo Bernini, Alessandro Algardi or Pierre Puget dating from the Italian baroque period.

Late Gothic German sculpture is another prominent section with works by Hans Multscher, Tilman Riemenschneider, Hans Brüggemannn, Nicolaus Gerhaert van Leyden and Hans Leinberger. Statuettes made of alabaster, boxwood and ivory represent sculpture of the German Renaissance and baroque periods, and reflect in particular the preferences of the Great Elector and King Frederick III in the "Art Cabinet". The monumental wooden sculptures of St Sebastian and St Florian by Zürn dating from the Thirty Years War are particularly impressive works of craftsmanship.

The museum also possesses some excellent examples of architectural sculpture. The gallery from the church in Gröningen is a major work of the German Romanesque period. Sculptures by Andreas Schlüter and the six figures of generals, which were created for the former Wilhelmplatz, represent Berlin sculpture of the 17th and 18th century. Rococo, early and late Classicism in Germany and France are represented with works by Ignaz Günther, Joseph Anton Feuchtmayer, Edme Bouchardon, and Jean-Antoine Houdon.

The collection of the Museum of Byzantine Art

The first-class collection of Byzantine Art is the only one of its kind within Germany. It includes early Christian, Byzantine and post-Byzantine works of art dating from the third to the nineteenth century. The works of art originate from Italy, Constantinople (now Istanbul), Asia Minor, the Near East, Greece, Russia, Egypt and the Balkans. The objects illustrate how ancient images were either adopted in various regions or used for artistic inspiration.

One of the main areas in the collection is formed by the priceless ivory carvings. They include such items as the "Great Berlin Pyxis" (around 400 AD), a major work of early Byzantine applied art. The consecrated bread for the Eucharist was kept in this vessel which bears a variety of figurative motifs including a frieze depicting "Christ and the Apostles" and "Abraham's Sacrifice".

The variety and quality of works in the section containing Coptic Art of Late Antiquity are so impressive that this collection ranks among the best in the world. This art, primarily of secular Egyptian origin, consists mainly of objects associated with burials, such as statues and tombstones, but it also includes wood carvings, textiles, traditional paintings and ceramics.

The collection of Eastern Roman and Byzantine sculptures is second only in size to that of the Archaeological Museum in Istanbul. The principles of form and style visible in characteristic examples of sculptures from Late Antiquity (3rd - 6th century AD) from Rome, Asia Minor, Syria, Greece and Egypt form the basis of inspiration for medieval sculpture in the Byzantine Empire.

The collection of icons concentrates on a special area of religious portrait painting on wood which dates back to the 6th - 7th century. After the "Iconoclastic Controversy" (843) this type of image developed a special cult character. These paintings of saints were revered as depictions of holy persons and powers. A selection of panels represents essential aspects of Russian icon painting ranging from the Novogorod school around 1400 to the Muscovite paintings of the nineteenth century.
The concept of the museum, which was originally called the Kaiser-Friedrich-Museum, can be traced back to Crown Princess Victoria of Prussia, who published her ideas in a memorandum in 1883. It was Wilhelm von Bode who finally put these ground-breaking ideas into practice. In 1897, construction work began at the northern tip of the Museum Island on a museum that was to be devoted to the Renaissance, designed by Eberhard von Ihne. Once completed, the museum would bear the name of Empress Victoria’s deceased husband, Kaiser (Emperor) Friedrich, who died in 1888. When the Kaiser-Friedrich-Museum opened in 1904, painting and sculpture, considered at the time as the ‘high arts’, were for the first time presented side by side on an equal footing with each other - a presentation strategy that differed radically from that of traditional museums.
Standard: 8,00 EUR / Reduced: 4,00 EUR Area Ticket Museumsinsel: 18,00 EUR / Reduced: 9,00 EUR
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Visitor entrance

Am Kupfergraben, Eingang Monbijoubrücke
10178 Berlin
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Opening Times

10:00 - 18:00
10:00 - 18:00
10:00 - 18:00
10:00 - 20:00
10:00 - 18:00
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