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Artworks in the Anna Amalia Library

The irreplaceable losses suffered by the Herzogin Anna Amalia Library include 35 paintings that were hung in the stairway leading to the 3rd floor, and on 3rd floor in the 2nd gallery, where they completely burned. These paintings, like the others at the library, had been hung in different places throughout the years, depending on the taste of the period or the changing public interests. The loss of them tears a hole in the total context of the remaining pictures and busts of poets, statesmen, scholars and composers.

Several of these paintings comprised the core of the original furnishings of the rococo hall when the library was completed in 1766. The portraits of prominent ancestors of the ducal house dating from the 17th and early 18th century had been moved here from the residence castle, in order to form a progression of pedigree together with representatives from important European royal houses in the new representative showroom of the rococo hall. The losses include six double portraits, of which the pictures of two Electors from Saxony as well as the English royal couple Anna and Jacob are examples. The loss of a half-figure portrait of duke Friedrich Wilhelm of Saxony-Weimar-Altenburg (1562-1602) dating from 1602, one of the rare signed portraits of the Weimar painter Christian Leutloff, is particularly painful.

In the 19th century, the collection in the library hall was augmented by portraits of contemporary personalities. One example is the self-portrait of the Weimar court painter Ferdinand Jagemann (1780-1820); another is a portrait of duke Carl August’s mistress, the celebrated actress Henriette Caroline von Heygendorff in one of her roles, both of which were lost. Among the other paintings dating from the 19th century that were destroyed were some that were painted as memorials to important minds of the past. The portrayal of the reformer “Martin Luther on his death bed” by Adam Weise (1776-1835) was one of those losses.

As the only allegory and a sort of guiding image for the art programme of the library, the painting “Der Genius des Ruhms” (The Genius of Fame) by Johann Heinrich Meyer (1760-1832) was installed in a very prominent position in the middle of the oval ceiling. All that was left of the burned canvas was the charred frame.

Weimar, May 2006