Fine arts in Dresden
The fine arts have enjoyed a long tradition in Dresden. Even back into the Middle Ages, important artists of the time were active in Dresden with commissions from the Saxon court.
Dresden enjoyed an outstanding heyday in the 18th century under the rule of Augustus the Strong and his son Augustus III, who transformed their residence into one of the most magnificent cities in Europe.
Architecture, art and music experienced a significant upswing during the so-called »Augustan age«. Both monarchs attracted eminent artists to their courts: The portraits by French painter Louis de Silvestre have left us impressive depictions of the Saxon-Polish rulers, while court jeweller Johann Melchior Dinglinger created breathtaking works of art of previously unknown beauty and preciousness.
After countless unsuccessful experiments, Johann Friedrich Böttger discovered the recipe for European porcelain, the legendary »white gold« of Saxony, and the famous bell-shaped dome of George Bähr's Frauenkirche overlooked the city from 1743 onwards.
The year 1755 saw Johann Joachim Winckelmann's controversial essay »Thoughts on the Imitation of Greek Works in Painting and Sculpture«, in which he propagated a renunciation of the courtly formal language of the Rococo style and inaugurated the epoch of Classicism.
The Dresden Art Academy acquired considerable importance in the second half of the century. Such prominent professors as Anton Graff and Adrian Zingg made the Dresden Academy one of the most important art schools in Europe in the field of painting.
In the mid-19th century, Ernst Rietschel, Gottfried Semper and Ludwig Richter rang in a second significant era for the Academy, which experienced a further zenith around the turn of the century with artists such as Gotthardt Kuehl and Robert Sterl.
Bernardo Bellotto's townscapes capture the atmosphere of a centre of art and culture of European rank