The first time Klaus Fittschen set eyes on the ancient statues once in the Wallmoden collection was in 1968. At that time, the statues, owned by Prince Ernst August of Hanover, were in storage in the Niedersächsisches Landesmuseum in Hanover, though there were plans to relocate them to the Kestner Museum. When that project failed, the collection was placed on long-term loan to the museum of Göttingen University, where Fittschen was Professor of Classical Archaeology. The Wallmoden statues were first exhibited there in 1979 on the occasion of the 250th anniversary of the birth of Christian Gottlob Heyne. The catalogue of this exhibition, edited by Fittschen and Christof Boehringer, marked the beginning of the rediscovery of a collection that had been almost completely forgotten by archaeologists and art historians. Today, the Wallmoden statues are still beautifully displayed in the Institute of Archaeology at Göttingen and the new catalogue, authored by Fittschen and Johannes Bergemann with contributions by Daniel Graepler, Joachim Raeder, Friederike Sinn and Christiane Vorster, is an appropriate fulfilment of almost forty years of research on one of the oldest assemblages of ancient sculptures in Germany and an exceptional testimony of the eighteenth-century reception of ancient art. The collection, which formerly included also paintings, gems, books, drawings, plaster casts and copies after the Antique, was formed in the second half of the eighteenth century by General Johann Ludwig von Wallmoden (1736–1811), later Reichsgraf (Imperial Count) von Wallmoden-Gimborn, an illegitimate son of King George II of Great Britain. Born in Hanover, but raised in London, Johann Ludwig began his Grand Tour in 1764, soon after the end of the Seven Years’ War; he passed the years 1765–6 in Rome, where he established friendly relationships with Johann Joachim Winckelmann and the German antiquary Johann Friedrich Reiffenstein, both of whom encouraged the young general to start an art collection. Following the example dictated by English gentlemen visiting Rome in the same period, Wallmoden relied on Thomas Jenkins and Gavin Hamilton, painters and art dealers, to purchase almost ninety marble sculptures (partly acquired from aristocratic collections, partly unearthed in Rome and its suburbs); restorations were entrusted to leading Italian sculptors such as Bartolomeo Cavaceppi (who also provided copies of famous Roman statues), Giuseppe Angelini and Pietro Pacilli. When Wallmoden left Rome in January 1766, Winckelmann praised him for being ‘the first in his country to have assembled such a collection of ancient monuments’. The collection was later housed in the Wallmoden-Schlösschen in Herrenhausen, the lengthy construction of which coincided with Wallmoden’s appointment as envoy of the British Crown in Vienna (1766–1783). Meanwhile two descriptions of the collection had been published, one certainly by Erich Rudolf Raspe in 1767, the other – anonymous, but probably also by Raspe – in 1781. In the years following Wallmoden’s death in 1811, his heirs were forced to sell off the library and the picture collection. The Wallmoden-Schlösschen, with the sculptures it contained, was purchased in 1817 by the House of Hanover. The sculpture collection, including ancient statues, plaster casts and copies after the Antique, remained in Herrenhausen until 1868, when it was transferred to the Provinzialmuseum in Hanover (later the Niedersächsisches Landesmuseum); in 1923 only the modern statues returned to Herrenhausen and were almost entirely lost during the bombing of Hanover in October 1943. An exhibition organized at Schloss Herrenhausen Museum in 2014 (The Hanoverians on Britain’s Throne 1714–1837) reunited for the first time in over 200 years a selection of paintings and sculptures once in the Wallmoden collection. This new volume consists of several introductory essays followed by a catalogue of the sculptures. The first chapter gives a portrait of General Wallmoden, whose later years were embittered by the defeat of Hanoverian troops during the Napoleonic wars. The second deals with the formation of the collection offering a lively image of the eighteenth-century practice of collecting. What emerges is Wallmoden’s interest, unavoidably influenced by what was available on the Roman art market, in the images of ancient gods and heroes and his willingness to build up a gallery of portraits of viri illustri. The brief presentation of the Wallmoden-Schlösschen in the third essay is followed by a focus on Raspe. Of great interest is the subsequent analysis of the so-called Album Kielmansegg, a collection of drawings – mostly after Wallmoden statues – that constitutes one of the few documents remaining in the private archive there which otherwise sustained severe losses during the Second World War (including inventories of the collection and Wallmoden’s correspondence). The drawings, dating from the 1760s and 1770s, were almost certainly sent to him by his agents in Rome, with a view to enticing purchases from Wallmoden – a practice common at the time and well documented in the ‘Paper Museum’ assembled by Charles Townley in London. Captions on the drawings – with fanciful interpretations of the subjects – may testify to a plan to publish them, perhaps in connection with Raspe’s descriptions of the collection. The fate of the collection after Wallmoden’s death and the loss of the casts and copies of nobilia opera during the bombing of 1943 are treated in the final essay. The catalogue is structured in seven sections which helpfully attempt to reconstruct the collection in its entirety, including not only the antiquities surviving in Göttingen, but also the modern copies (including those destroyed during the bombing of 1943, among them Cavaceppi’s marble replica of the Dying Gaul in the Capitoline Museums), and the sculptures that may have come to Wallmoden’s attention but which never entered his collection, such as the Juno Pentini (today in the Vatican Museums), a red chalk drawing of which is preserved in the Album Kielmansegg. The final three sections of the catalogue are dedicated to the glyptic collection (presumably sold during Wallmoden’s lifetime) and to stone and clay vessels. Appendices provide transcriptions of documents relevant to the history of the collection, including the export licences of the statues purchased in Rome between 1766 and 1771 (some published here for the first time). Concordances of the catalogue with previous descriptions of the collection are provided, together with a detailed list of the ancient works discussed as comparatives within the entries; it is a pity, however, that there is no index of the artists, collectors and dealers mentioned in the volume. Catalogue entries have been entrusted to some of the most authoritative scholars of the German archaeological school and can be considered valuable points of reference for the study of the sculptural types represented by the Wallmoden statues. Unfortunately, in many cases the possibility of tackling the matters of provenance and the arrangement of the statues within the Marmorsaal in Wallmoden-Schlösschen is frustrated by the loss of the original documents. Besides the superb colour photographs by Stephan Eckardt, inserted at the end of the volume, the catalogue is also enriched by hitherto unpublished reproductions of the drawings of the Album Kielmansegg, beautiful images of portraits of Wallmoden and his family, and useful black and white comparatives. This is a volume that will certainly find an important place in the literature on eighteenth-century collecting. © The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/about_us/legal/notices)
Journal of the History of Collections – Oxford University Press
Published: May 28, 2018
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