A huge wall panel measuring approximately four by six meters, composed of 1057 porcelain tiles depicting some famous characters from German history, was considered irretrievably lost. But at the end of July, parts of the panel, packed in 16 boxes, returned to Berlin, for Royal Porcelain Manufactory (Königliche Porzellan-Manufaktur) – to where in 1893 it was taken as an exhibit to the World’s Fair in Chicago.
Goddess Germany – patroness of science and art
The creator of the Glory of Germania composition, the then artistic director of the Royal Porcelain Manufactory, Alexander Kips, placed the long-haired, blond and blue-eyed goddess Germany in the center of the picture. Her head is decorated with a wreath of oak leaves, a sword is lowered in her left hand, and a heraldic single-headed eagle is clearly visible on a bright orange tunic on her chest. In the background, on the right, the Cologne Cathedral rises up.
Around Germany are mythical and real historical characters. Among them were the German pioneer printer and the first European typographer Johannes Gutenberg, the German painter, engraver and graphic artist Albrecht Dürer, the German philosopher, mathematician and founder of the Berlin Academy of Sciences Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, Johann Friedrich Böttger, the German alchemist and naturalist, who received in 1708 white porcelain, as well as many others. The goddess Germany in this picture symbolizes a country that takes under its protection its people and all progressive people of science and art.
Panel found in nursing home
The panel by Kips was the main decoration of the German pavilion, and after the end of the exhibition, made on china the painting became the property of the German American Heritage Institute and graced the ballroom of the Germany Club in Chicago until it was dissolved in 1985. After that, traces of the amazing work of art were lost.
Perhaps the picture would still be considered lost if it had not been taken up by the professor of German studies at Loyola University in Chicago and the son of German immigrants Reinhard Andress (Reinhard Andress). Thanks to his efforts, the panel was discovered in 2018 in the attic of a Chicago nursing home, in the building of which, as it turned out, former members of the Germany Club once stayed. After the panel was discovered, it was donated to the Royal Porcelain Manufactory.
Preparations for transportation from the US to Germany lasted four years. And now, 130 years later, the porcelain tile panel “Glory of Germania” is back in Berlin. Some damaged parts of the painting will now be restored, so access to it will be limited for at least two years. Where it will be placed finally has not yet been decided. However, it is already clear that the painting will be exhibited, and everyone will be able to see it again.