From the Nile to the Spree

Spectacular gold necklace in Egyptian style by the court goldsmith Hugo Schaper, Berlin ca. 1900


Spectacular gold necklace in Egyptian style by the court goldsmith Hugo Schaper, Berlin ca. 1900
Spectacular gold necklace in Egyptian style by the court goldsmith Hugo Schaper, Berlin ca. 1900
Description
This description was automatically translated from German. If you have any questions about this piece of jewellery, we will be happy to help!
What a sight! The treasure of Nefertiti or Cleopatra could not have contained a more impressive necklace than the spectacular Egyptian-style pectoral here - which, however, was not created on the Nile but on the Spree. The large necklace is a child of the years around 1900 and yet transports us from the capital of the German Empire to the mysterious land of the Pharaohs. In the middle of the design we see a green shining scarab made of faience. The sacred beetle, the symbol of the sun god Re, is placed in the middle of a shining sun disk. Large feathered wings emanate from it. A uraeus serpent, the protective symbol of the pharaohs, coils beneath it and stretches its head towards us. Another scarab, now made of lapis lazuli, is attached to the snake by means of an anch symbol, the sign of continued life in the afterlife. By means of the necklace's fine gold chain, the large gold pendant can be worn as a magnificent amulet. Even the finest details of the design are based on close observation of ancient Egyptian ornaments: We see small Horus falcons bearing the crowns of Upper and Lower Egypt, a djed pillar, the sign of permanence, and much more. It thus becomes apparent that this piece was a work obviously for someone who had not only a fashion preference, but a serious interest in ancient Egypt. But for whom was this extraordinary necklace once created, who commissioned it from the court goldsmith of the emperor Hugo Schaper? (You can find out more about Hugo Schaper under "Learn more...") In 1898, the German Oriental Society was founded in Berlin with the aim of financing scientific excavations "in the lands of the Bible" in order to bring together collection pieces for a museum of Egyptian and Oriental antiquities that was sorely lacking in Berlin and would be able to compete with the Louvre and the British Museum on an equal footing. One of the best-known founding fathers was the entrepreneur James Simon, who was later to donate the bust of Nefertiti to the Berlin museums. However, many other leading figures in Berlin society also became financially involved and were thus quickly able to put the DOG in a position to undertake successful excavations. In Babylon the famous Processional Way with the Ishtar Gate, the palaces of Nebuchadnezzar and the Tower of Babel were soon found. In Egypt, excavations followed at Abusir and Tell el-Amarna. At the latest after Wilhelm II had taken over the protectorate in 1901, the DOG and its goal, the study of the ancient Orient and Egypt, had penetrated to the very top of Berlin society. Our necklace was created in this context. It combines a scientific interest in Egypt with the desire for a luxurious social life, which includes jewellery. At numerous balls and receptions in Berlin at the turn of the century, the necklace from the workshop of Hugo Schaper will have made its wearer the radiant centre of conversation. It has been excellently preserved in its original box made of suede and is now waiting, like the sun god Re, to bring radiance and life to you anew.
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The childhood of the imperial and royal court goldsmith Hugo Schaper (1844-1915) was initially ill-fated. The son of a pastor from Alsleben (Saale) became an orphan at the age of only five, after first his father and then his mother died in quick succession. Together with his brother Fritz, he nevertheless managed to rise to the top of artistic life in the society of the German Empire despite this difficult start. His brother won the competition for the Goethe monument in the Tiergarten in 1871 and became a professor at the Academy of Arts in Berlin. He created the gable relief of the main facade of the Reichstag building, numerous statues and monuments of German sovereigns and also the famous so-called "Prussian Madonna", a larger-than-life statue of Queen Luise in the pose of Mary with Child. Hugo Schaper, in turn, also settled in Berlin and was quickly able to attract many wealthy customers from the bourgeoisie and nobility for his goldsmith's work. He worked in the various styles of Historicism and, after several years as "Court Goldsmith to Her Royal Highness the Princess. Friedrich Carl von Preußen", he was appointed court goldsmith to the emperor in 1898 at the latest - a position he retained until his death. He maintained his workshop at Potsdamer Strasse 8, not far from Potsdamer Platz.
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