The balustrade figures, which are new creations, are still missing
A penultimate part of the new Berlin Palace / Humboldt Forum has been completed: it is the coat of arms cartouche above Portal III, which faces the Schloss Platz and points in the direction of the the Brandenburg Gate. This completes the German federal government’s involvement in the new building. On the part of the Humboldt Forum Foundation in the Berlin Palace, the very last part still follows with the 18 balustrade figures for the north and south sides of the façade.
The private initiative Förderverein Berliner Schloss e.V. around Wilhelm von Boddien had organized the funds for the restoration of the baroque façades on 3 sides of the building.
The coat-of-arms cartouche is a copper hammering, or repoussé and chasing, measuring 7 m x 7 m. It shows a golden crown with a golden order star and is a masterpiece of engineering and craftsmanship. Given the new load-bearing capacity of the outer walls made of reinforced concrete with thick natural stone cladding, the weight of the substructure for the coat of arms cartouche was reduced by three-quarters.
However, this meant that the complex process of manufacturing had to be redesigned.
The process ranged from the creation of an initial, sketch to the implementation of the copper engravings and gilding, and finally to the restoration of the original preserved order star.
To attach the coat of arms cartouche, the technicians used a special mounting structure with a water tank as a balancing weight.
While the building as such (and also the coat-of-arms cartouche) was a construction project of the federal government, which cites €682 million as the total cost, the reconstruction of the baroque façades was a private project. It was financed by the Förderverein Berliner Schloss e.V. which raised 80 million € worldwide from private donors and sponsors for this purpose.
The course has now been set for the final part of the project: over the next two years, the eighteen former balustrade figures will be reinstalled on the north and south sides of the palace. Their special feature will be that they are only new creations in the sense of the old originals. This is because the originals have been lost.
The figures are to be 3.14 m high, by the familiar Baroque measurement. Their artistic design will be determined in a competition based on models, so-called bozzetti, which will be made participatively by sculptors by invitation. After reviewing the bozzetti and the recommendation of a commission of experts, the Foundation, together with architect Franco Stella, will select the artists and models for implementation.
The completion is expected to take two years.
There are four figures for each of the two portals on the north and south sides respectively, as well as two figures for the so-called Eosander shoulder on the western side of the Lustgarten. The north façade faces the Berlin Cathedral and the Lustgarten.
Already completed are the eight prophet figures for the dome balustrade. They are expected to be erected in the fall of this year.
(18.08.2023, USA: 08.18.2023)