Committed to detail: A. Lange & Söhne and the special exhibition “Enchantingly Real. Bernardo Bellotto

A. Lange & Söhne and the special exhibition “Enchantingly Real. Bernardo Bellotto
Bernardo Bellotto, Dresden From the Right Bank of the Elbe Below the Augustus Bridge, 1748, oil on canvas, 133 × 237 cm, photographers Elke Estel/Hans-Peter Klut © Old Masters Picture Gallery, Dresden State Art Collections.
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A. Lange & Söhne is delighted to support the special exhibition “Enchantingly Real. Bernardo Bellotto at the Court of Saxony” at the Dresden State Art Collections (SKD) as part of its partnership with the museum association, which began in 2006. The retrospective spans 140 exhibits, including 36 of Bellotto’s paintings, and is on display at the Old Masters Picture Gallery in Dresden’s Zwinger Palace from 21 May to 28 August 2022 to mark what would have been the Venetian artist’s 300th birthday. With this commitment to the State Art Collections, A. Lange & Söhne acknowledges its cultural roots and celebrates the legacy of a painter whose art has astonishing parallels with the manufactory’s own craftsmanship.

Dresden From the Right Bank of the Elbe Below the Augustus Bridge” is the exact title of a painting of equally exquisite precision that Bernardo Bellotto (1721–1780) was commissioned by the Court of Saxony to create in 1748. The vast veduta, as city and landscape paintings of this nature are known, entered the collective consciousness as the “Canaletto view” and represents one of the most atmospheric depictions of Dresden, bringing architecture, nature and humanity together in harmony. In the foreground, the leisurely flowing Elbe with wooden ships and river workers, and in the background, the Dresden Cathedral, the seventeen-arched bridge and what is probably the best-known landmark of that time, the Frauenkirche with its cantilevered sandstone dome, stand out against a slightly cloudy sky.

This memento of a moment, that captures the magic of an afternoon in the city circa 1748, may have inspired the State Collections to come up with their title for the exhibition: “Enchantingly Real”. With his delicate brushstrokes, precise use of colour and remarkable attention to detail, the Venetian artist, who was appointed by August III as the painter at the Court of Saxony, gave his paintings a surprisingly realistic feel. To this very day, they offer us unique insights into the stunning architecture and everyday life in the Baroque period. His Dresden years marked one of the most productive periods in his entire career. With 140 exhibits, the retrospective celebrates the life and work of the artist on what would have been his 300th birthday. It is at once the conclusion of a lengthy restoration project and a presentation of the world’s largest collection of works by the artist – one of the most significant of his era – featuring no less than 36 paintings.

A common understanding

Lange CEO Wilhelm Schmid sees many parallels between Bellotto’s art and the Saxon art of precision watchmaking as practised as A. Lange & Söhne today. They include attention to detail and the utmost precision, where the master’s signature is identifiable at very first glance. “I’m delighted we’ve been able to take our partnership with the Dresden State Art Collections another step further and heighten awareness of the unique artistic and cultural diversity of our region with the career retrospective ‘Enchantingly Real. Bernardo Bellotto at the Court of Saxony’.” The Baroque theme is said to be epochal: at the time, the whole world looked to Dresden for influence on art, architecture, craftsmanship and scientific research.

Bernardo Bellotto’s vedute give us a fascinating insight into an era of bravura cultural and scientific performances in the heart of Europe,” adds Schmid. The Royal Cabinet of Mathematical and Physical Instruments in the Zwinger Palace – also part of the State Collections – was already one of the world’s most important collections of historic instruments at that time. These cosmopolitan surroundings, characterised by an incredible spirit of innovation and forward-thinking approach, also inspired Ferdinand Adolph Lange to establish his Saxon precision watchmaking enterprise in Glashütte half a century later. His understanding of his own craftsmanship was akin to Bernardo Bellotto’s in many ways. According to Schmid, it is not only the historic exhibits that can be found in the Royal Cabinet of Mathematical and Physical Instruments that are testaments to this – but the mechanical masterpieces with which A. Lange & Söhne pushes the boundaries of the possible to this very day.

About A. Lange & Söhne
Dresden watchmaker Ferdinand Adolph Lange laid the cornerstone of Saxony’s precision watchmaking industry when he established his manufactory in 1845. His precious pocket watches remain highly coveted among collectors all over the world. The company was expropriated after the Second World War, and the name A. Lange & Söhne nearly vanished. But in 1990, Walter Lange, Ferdinand Adolph Lange’s great-grandson, ventured to start over again. Today, Lange crafts only a few thousand wristwatches, mainly in gold or platinum, per year. They are endowed exclusively with proprietary movements that are lavishly decorated and twice assembled by hand. With 69 manufacture calibres developed since 1990, A. Lange & Söhne has secured a top-tier position among the world’s finest watch brands. Its greatest successes include brand icons such as the LANGE 1, the first regularly produced wristwatch with an outsize date, and the ZEITWERK, with its precisely jumping numerals. Extraordinary complications such as the ZEITWERK MINUTE REPEATER, the TRIPLE SPLIT and the so far most complicated model, the GRAND COMPLICATION, introduced in 2013 in a limited edition of six, represent what the manufactory always strives for: to drive the traditional art of watchmaking to ever-new heights. The sporty yet elegant ODYSSEUS, introduced in 2019, marked the start of a new chapter for A. Lange & Söhne.

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