Loot. 10 Stories

Horse Head from the Quadriga

This head is the only surviving piece of the Brandenburg Gate’s original quadriga, a war chariot drawn by four horses and driven by the peace-bringing goddess of victory, Victoria. The work was modelled by Johann Gottfried Schadow, the founder of a sculptural art movement in nineteenth-century Berlin. Life-sized oak moulds were carved by the Christoph Wohler brothers from Potsdam, and coppersmith Emanuel Ernst Jury (1756–1823) hammered copper plates over the moulds to create the actual sculptures. The VR simulation puts viewers next to the quadriga on top of the Brandenburg Gate, looking down on Napoleon’s troops marching through below.

Almost immediately after Napoleon’s troops invaded the German capital in 1806, Dominique-Vivant Denon, art commissioner and director of the Musée Napoléon in the Louvre, seized the quadriga and took it to Paris as a war trophy. From 1794 to 1813, France appropriated thousands of artworks, manuscripts, and books from the European countries under its occupation. The quadriga was dismantled, packed into twelve crates, and shipped to France. Once in Paris, it was restored but never exhibited publicly. Eight years later, after coalition troops marched into Paris and forced Napoleon to abdicate in 1814, the quadriga was brought back to Berlin.

The work was severely damaged by gunfire shortly before the end of the Second World War. Not long afterwards, it was toppled in a demonstration of victory over Nazi fascism, then dismantled and melted down. This head was the only piece to escape destruction. In 1952, Hans Füssel (1897–1989), a bronze caster and restorer from East Berlin, found it in the cellar of a Berlin apartment building and handed it over to the Märkisches Museum, Berlin’s foremost local history museum. The quadriga returned to the Brandenburg Gate in 1958, in the form of a bronze replica produced by the Hermann Noack foundry in West Berlin on commission from the City of East Berlin.

VR-experience, 2023
Jongsma + O’Neill

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Loot. 10 Stories