In 2002, the German parliament approved the partial reconstruction of the Berlin Palace, which was severely damaged during World War II and demolished in 1950. The reconstruction of the three Baroque outer facades and the dome of the Berlin Palace, as well as the three Baroque facades of the Schlüterhof, honours the exceptional artistic achievement of Andreas Schlüter (1659–1714), the Baroque master builder.
The reconstruction of the Baroque facades, which was funded entirely through donations thanks to a broad-based civic engagement, was a titanic feat involving sculptors, plaster moulders and stucco artists, who created over 2,300 figures and approximately 23,000 sandstone elements.
Using surviving fragments of the original building and historical photographs, it was possible to achieve a faithful reconstruction of Schlüter’s Baroque facade.
From Quarry to Sculpture
At 5.8 metres in height, 7.3 metres in width and weighing around 56 tonnes, the corner cartouche is one of some three thousand decorative elements to be found adorning the Berlin Palace. In artistic and sculptural terms it is probably the most ambitious of all. The process of its creation is a perfect example of the approach used for all the sandstone elements on the reconstructed Baroque facades.
You can read the entire story of the reconstruction of the corner cartouche in our illustrated book Barock in Arbeit. Die Kunst der Rekonstruktion (“Baroque in Progress: The Art of Reconstruction and the Berlin Palace”).
Most of the reconstruction is carried out at the Schlossbauhütte (masons’ lodge), founded in 2011 in Berlin Spandau. Since then, piece for piece, the sculptors have been shaping the decorative elements – some of them colossal – of the Baroque facade, casting them in plaster and, in a final step, carved in sandstone using the time-honoured hammer and pointwork technique.
The Stiftung Humboldt Forum im Berliner Schloss set up the Schlossbauhütte in 2011, adopting the structure of a traditional construction workshop. The appropriate space for the Schlossbauhütte was found in a former Allied car repair shop in Berlin Spandau.
An expert commission comprising art historians and other specialists will appraise the completed models and sculptures in conjunction with the sculptors.
Modern Handicraft Technology
For the modelling, traditional craftsmanship is being aided by high-tech processes and materials. For example, sections of the surviving entrance Portal IV, which had been integrated into the nearby Staatsratsgebäude, were duplicated as a model for the sculptors by means of 3D printing. In addition, restorers are hard at work on the remaining original sculptures and fragments, which will then either be incorporated into the facade or displayed in the Skultpurensaal (sculpture hall) of the Humboldt Forum.