Balthasar Permoser, Damnation, around 1725
Balthasar Permoser, Damnation, around 1725
Michel Erhart, Kneeling King in a Group of Worshipers, around 1500
Michel Erhart, Kneeling King in a Group of Worshipers, around 1500

SCULPTURE COLLECTION

The Sculpture Collection was established in 1848 with a series of plaster casts of famous works from antiquity and the Renaissance and also contemporary model plaster works and sculptures. This old stock was wound down in 1912 and restructured as a contemporary sculpture collection. Numbering over 800 works of sculpture, the Museum of Fine Arts now has East Germany’s third largest sculpture collection, trailing just Berlin and Dresden. A collection of medals and badges, 400 pieces-strong and consisting of work by German and French artists of the 19th and 20th centuries, complements this portfolio.

These days, the late medieval wooden sculptures, the bronze statuette “Flora” by Adriaen de Vries, the Saxon Baroque sculpture with works by Balthasar Permoser and some exquisite Classicist sculptures may indeed be remarkable eye-catchers in the collection, but they appear more like a delightful introduction to the main pieces, sculptures from the second half of the 19th century and the whole 20th century. The selection contains work by renowned artistic figures that characterised developments in Berlin, Dresden or Leipzig. The collection centres mainly on genre-defining, topical work in a statuette format, created entirely in the services of bourgeois representative commissions. The seventy Klinger works are the particular treasure in the Leipzig collection, including numerous original plaster casts and working models in addition to his most important coloured sculptures. In the interaction with a host of works by other Saxon artists, they characterise the uninterrupted development in local art from the middle of the 19th century until 1945, which Klinger so dominated. Several hundred animal sculptures, donated to the museum by the Paul Geipel Foundation and arranged around the central group of works by August Gaul, represent a special collection. Furthermore, there is an independent group of sculptures by French and Belgian artists from the turn of the century.

Classic Modernism was observed with interest; however, there was a more conservative selection in purchasing at the start of the 20th century. The pieces are characterised by figurine-objective styles, and less by expressive trends. Representatives of the artistic centres in Dresden, Berlin and Leipzig fly the flag for GDR sculpture. The local tradition of figurative sculpture is represented convincingly, placing works with a political-appellative character next to small-scale, intimate pieces that reflect personal views of life.