Press material: Picture Gallery and New Chambers in Sanssouci Park

Picture Gallery of Sanssouci

Potsdam, Sanssouci Park

Frederick the Great was a passionate collector of paintings. He filled his apartments with them, not very unlike his contemporaries. However, his idea of commissioning a building specifically to house his collection was an international novelty.

The Picture Gallery was erected in 1755–1763 to drawings by Johann Gottfried Büring over the foundations of a former hothouse next to Schloss Sanssouci. It is one of the oldest surviving museum buildings in Germany and also one of the most beautiful galleries in the world. Divided in the middle by a tribuna, the hall is almost as long as the building itself, which appears very simple from the outside. The use of precious marbles and gilt stucco lends this room its unique festive atmosphere. Masterpieces by Caravaggio, Maratta, Reni, Rubens and van Dyck are hung frame to frame in baroque style. Caravaggio’s “Doubting Thomas”, one of the key attractions in today’s collection, was a later addition. Frederick the Great himself disdained paintings of “scoundrel saints who get martyred”.

Although the King had adequate space to accommodate his guests in the New Palace, in 1771–1775 he had the orangery that formerly stood to the west of Schloss Sanssouci converted into a palatial guest-house.

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New Chambers of Sanssouci

Potsdam, Sanssouci Park

The structure with seven halls of plants, originally designed by Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff, banqueting halls and guest apartments were appointed to drawings by Johann Christian Unger. The interior decoration betrays a late yet high-quality rococo. This exultant splendour is well concealed by the simple austerity of the façade. In the Ovid Gallery, a room in the fashion of a French gallery of mirrors, fourteen themes from the Roman poet’s “Metamorphoses” exude a voluptuous sensuality in gilt stucco relief. The smaller guest rooms are ornately decked with marquetry, enamel or paintings. The marquetry finishing by the Spindler brothers is especially noteworthy.

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Birgit MorgenrothDepartment Education and MarketingPublic Relations

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