THE ELECTOR OF BRANDENBURG'S 66-POINT STAG
Preußen 1701 Eine europäische Geschichte, Deutsche Historisches Museum, Stiftung Peußische Schlösser Gärten Berlin-Brandenburg in the Große Orangerie of Charlottenburg palace, 6 May to 5 August, 2001, VIII.1031
Jörg Rasmussen, Barockplastik in Norddeutschland, Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg, Mainz, 1977, pp. 467-469
1 It was suggested in this exhibition that the stag cup was a present to Friedrich III, at his coronation although this seems unlikely given the diamond lettering around the cup’s collar refers to Friedrich as elector only
Hans-Ulrich Kessler et al. , Andreas Schlüter and das Barocke Berlin, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, 4 April 2014 to 13 July 2014, pp. 341-42;
Wilfred Rogasch, Schatzhäuser Deutschlands kunst in adlingem Privatbesitz, 2004, p. 210;
Hobusch Goldener Trinkpokal, “Liegender Hirsch” ‘, Unsere Jagd 1/2001;
Hans-Günther Hartmann, Moritzburg, Weimar, 1989, pp. 107-109;
Paul Seidel, “Der von Kufürst Friedrich III. (König Friedrich I.) erlegte Sechsundsechzigenender Hirsch”, in Hohenzollern-Jahrbuch: Forschungen und Abbildungen zur Geschichte der Hohenzollern in Brandenburg-Preußen. Siebenter Jahrgang 1903 , Berlin/Leipzig, 1903, pp. 157-163.
Neil Macgregor, Germany Memoirs of a Nation, London, 2014.
It was an extraordinary specimen with 66 points to its antlers and shot by Friedrich III Elector of Brandenburg (1657-1713), on September 18th 1696, near the village of Sauen, in the district of Briesen, just to the west of Frankfurt-an-der-Oder.
Because of the animal’s size, its antlers, and because it was shot by the elector himself, the event caught the imagination; the site was marked at the time with a stone monument which still exists, it was mentioned in chronicles, and paintings and prints of the animal were made.
An example of the latter was executed by the Brandenburg court artist Johann Georg Wolfgang (1662-1744) (see detail). Wolfgang recorded important court events including the anointing of Friedrich III, at his coronation as Friedrich I, King in Prussia in 1701, and the successful casting of a massive cannon. In the latter engraving (see detail) the caster, Johannes Jacobi (1661-1726) is shown leaning on the cannon and pointing to the equestrian statue of Friedrich III’s father, The Great Elector, which he cast and which was modelled by Andreas Schlüter (1661-1714)
It is thought that Andreas Schlüter (1664-1714), sculptor, architect and master of works to the electoral and royal court of Brandenburg/Prussia 'provided a design or modello of the Resting Deer for the Goldsmith’.1 Schlüter’s hand in the making of the stag seems very likely given his employment as court sculptor from 1694 and the great importance of the animal to his employer the elector. It also occurred when his energies as a sculptor were not distracted by other duties, which in 1698 'were extended to include those of head architect on the Berlin Arsenal and shortly thereafter on the Electoral and subsequently Royal Stadtschloss renovation project as Ober-Baudirektor for palace contruction'; Additionally, the stone monument in Biegen erected to locate and remember the event of 18th September 1696, is also ascribed to Schlüter and bears an identical inscription to the one on the base of the stag.
The silver model is struck with the mark of Daniel Männlich (1625-1701) elder of the Berlin Goldsmiths guild from 1671 and official goldsmith to the electoral court from around 1676. Born in Troppau, Silesia he came from an important family of goldsmiths which included a number of Augsburg masters. He was apprenticed to his uncle after his father’s early death and completed his studies as a journeyman in Krakow, Breslau and Dresden, before moving to Berlin. It is thought that the professional relationship between Daniel Männlich and Andreas Schlüter may have begun with their collaboration over the elector’s stag. It culminated with the portal to the Männlich family burial vault of 1700. Modelled by Schlüter, it is considered one of his greatest achievements and is the `only known commission the sculptor executed for a Berlin middle-class patron’.2
The inscription under the foot of the cup is reputed to be the words dictated by the Elector in his tent, on the day the deer was shot and recorded in an eye-witness account published in the local chronicle of Briesen in the Amt Odervorland.3
''Andere Fürstenhauser warden mich beneiden und Brandenburg erfährt Anerkennung’’ und Friedrich stand auf und rief seinen Schreiber. Dann diktierte er folgenden Text (``Other princely houses will envy me and give recognition to Brandenburg’’. Friedrich stood and dictated the following text)
Diesen Hirsch hat in der Brunfft Zeit, mit Eigener Hand geschoßen der Durchlauchtigste Gross Mächtigste Fürst und Herr HERR FRIDERICH der DRITTE, Marg Graff und Chur-Fürst zu Bran:denburg: Im Ambte Biegen auff der Jacobsdorff Heÿde, Den 18 Septembr. Ao:1696. Hatgewogen 5 Centn: 35 lb Nachdem er Schon 3Wochengeschrÿen.4
The vivid account by Bartholmäus Fritsch, a local woodsman, records the excitement when the Elector and his court descended on the Jacobsdorfer Heide, to find the stag whose reputation had reached Berlin. It undoubtedly had extraordinary antlers but in the eyes of the people who made their living in the sacred forests, the animal was also supernatural; it was accompanied by a white lady or forest fairy on a white horse, and only the Elector was sufficiently noble to kill such a beast.
The deer was shot on 18th September after two days of stalking, and Andreas Siebenbürger, the stalker who carried the elector’s gun received a farm in thanks. A contemporary engraved plate from the gun, formerly in Hohenzollern Museum at Schloss Monbijou, shows the animal lying down as it is modelled in the silver-gilt cup.5 The antlers are now at Schloss Moritzburg in Saxony. They were given by the elector Friedrich’s son Friedrich Wilhelm I (1688-1740), to Augustus II the Strong, Elector of Saxony and King of Poland, on his visit to Brandenburg in 1728. As part of the celebrations for the visit, a hunt was organised in the Jungfern Heide near Charlotteburg on 11 June, and at the dinner afterwards, the official welcome toast to Augustus the Strong was drunk from this cup;6 it had become the hunt welcome cup and is recorded two years later passing from the deceased head huntmaster Oberjägermeister Samuel von Hertefeld to Oberjägermeister Georg Christoph Graf von Schlieben (1676-1748).
Prints and other contemporary references consistently mention two things about the stag; that it was shot by the elector and that it had 66-points, an extraordinary number for a red deer. There is no doubt that the antlers were considered to be highly valuable, not least by Augustus himself. A note by the Prussian Vize-Oberjägermeister, von Meyrink in 1746 recorded that Friedrich Wilhelm exchanged the antlers with Augustus for a company of tall Grenadiers.7 Friedrich Wilhelm’s obsession for tall soldiers is well recorded and a precedent for such gift-giving existed when 151 Chinese lidded vases against 600 dragoons were exchanged by the two monarchs in 1717.8
After 1730, when the cup is recorded passing between officers of the royal hunt, no mention of it is found until 1902, when it was acquired by Wilhelm II, The German Emperor and descendent of Friedrich I and Friedrich Wilhelm.9 There is no published record of the details of this acquisition or why it was no longer a family possession, although it has been suggested that the cup somehow disappeared from its presumed then location in the department of the Royal hunt around 1822, at the dissolution of the Oberjägermeisteramtes.10
The stag cup was located in vitrine no. 8 of the Emperor’s Emfangzimmer of the Berlin Stadtschloss, the former Audienzzimmer of Freidrich II (Frederick the Great) and is recorded in a document of 18th August 1914, being moved perhaps to a safer location, soon after the outbreak of the Great War. Around 1926, the cup was moved from Berlin to Huis Doorn, in the Netherlands, a house the emperor had bought in 1919 for his Residence in exile. It was located in a `Vitrinenschrank im Rauchzimmer am gelben Salon’ and had been sent or brought by `Geheimer Hofrat Nitz’. In 1964 it was brought from Doorn to Hohenzollern castle in Hechingen, the family’s ancestral seat.11
1 Kandt, op. cit., p. 83.
2 Kandt, op. cit., p. 83.
4 The German inscription reads in translation:
His Most Serene Most Powerful Prince and Lord, Lord Friedrich the Third, Margrave and Prince Elector of Brandenburg shot this stag: in Biegen on the Jacobsdorff moor, on the 18th September Anno 1696. The stag was shot during the rutting season after he had roared for 3 weeks and weighed 5 centiner and 35 pounds (A centner or Zentner weighed approximately 50kg).
5 Seidel, op. cit., p. 157.
6 Seidel, op. cit., p. 163.
7 Hartmann, op. cit., p. 107.
8 Macgregor, op. cit. pp. 319 and 320.
9 Seidel, op. cit., p. 157.
10 Hobusch, Unsere Jagd, 1/2001.
11 Family papers.
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