West Surrey Area
Museums & Art Galleries
Art and Architecture
of the lecture
given by Eveline Eaton
on January 22nd 2014
Until yesterday the name Dresden had conjured up to me
pictures of bombsites and grey misery. Pictures, it soon turned
out, that were sorely outdated because the Dresden that Eveline Eaton
revealed to us is brimming over with life and colour and beauty.
Aided by a really wonderful visual presentation, she took us on a tour
of the city which in 2006 celebrated its 800th birthday.
Before the firestorm Dresden had been able to boast proudly of its
bridges, castles, opera house, squares and palaces, but by 15th
February 1944 virtually everything had been reduced to vast mounds of
rubble by the Allied bombing.
Happily for us in the twenty-first century, the city has risen from its
ashes like the proverbial phoenix. Once again it can boast
proudly of its bridges, castles, opera house, squares and palaces – now
restored in large part thanks to the work of a certain C18th Italian
urban landscape painter named Bernardo Bellotto, whose views of Dresden
were used to guide the reconstruction. However, more modern-day
movers have also played a large part in the process, not least The
Dresden Trust, of which Eveline Eaton is the recently-elected
Chairman. Although the Communists had already reconstructed some
buildings they were not in the least set on bringing back to life the
Frauenkirche, or Church of Our Lady, which had not actually been bombed
but had collapsed in the firestorm. The Trust’s work can now be
witnessed in the newly-restored church, with a beautiful orb and cross
sitting atop the dome. These have a particularly poignant
significance as they were made by an English goldsmith called Alan
Smith, whose father had been one of the bomber pilots.
From architecture to art ..... Did you know that the original of
Raphael’s “Sistine Madonna” calls Dresden her home? Or that
Titian’s Venus is sleeping there? And then there is the
porcelain. Hard paste porcelain had existed for so long in China
before it ever reached the West, but when it arrived it came to Meissen
as the secret ingredient, kaolin, had been discovered close by.
Go to see such porcelain in Dresden and you will find it displayed out
in the open, with only the tiniest examples being behind glass.
And then what about The Green Vaults? A green diamond weighing 41
carats, a diamond brooch weighing half a kilo, eighty-five faces carved
on a cherry stone in 1590, an automaton bug made in 1600 .....
And back to architecture ..... The dairy and the tobacco
processing factory may have gone but the Museum of Military History
dating from 1897 remains, but now with its heart pierced by a wedge
added in 2011, which points down to the spot where the firestorm
Thank you, Eveline. Even if it means flying with Ryanair, I
intend to visit Dresden soon!
If you would like to
donate to The Dresden Trust, cheques can be sent to Frank Woodgate, The
Dresden Trust Treasurer, c/o BGA, 34 Belgrave Square, London SW1X 8QG.
(Please indicate whether or not you wish Gift Aid to be claimed).
Link to The Dresden Trust
Chairman of The Dresden Trust and engaging
lecturer, Eveline Eaton