February 15, 1996 Rare Treasures from the Saxon State Library, Dresden in Major Exhibition at the Library of Congress

Contact: Kathleen Cassedy (202) 707-9191 | Craig D'Ooge (202) 707-9189

WHAT: "Dresden: Treasures of the Saxon State Library"

WHEN: April 11 through July 13, 1996, Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

WHERE: The Southwest Gallery and Pavilion of the Thomas Jefferson Building, The Library of Congress, 10 First St. S.E.

An exhibition of rare treasures from the Saxon State Library will open at the Library of Congress on April 11, 1996. "Dresden: Treasures from the Saxon State Library" will offer a rich sampling of both German and European history and culture from the High Middle Ages, Renaissance and Romantic periods.

The Saxon State Library began as a royal collection in Dresden, Germany, 440 years ago. Under the auspices of Saxon's ruling elector princes, nobility, and later, the library's administrators and scholars, the collection was carefully selected and purchased. The 185 treasures in this exhibition were chosen for their beauty, uniqueness, and historical significance. They include rare manuscripts, early examples of the art of printing, maps, copper etchings, paintings and musical scores. Exhibition highlights include:

  • Priceless manuscripts from the Middle Ages of classical literature by Horace and Ovid, and Italian poets Francesco Petrarch and Giovanni Boccaccio, as well as illuminated and religious works, including a rare Jewish prayer book and a book of Gospels for Catholic mass.
  • The first German-language Bible, translated by Martin Luther, and other of his manuscripts and published works.
  • Unique or original musical scores by Johann Sebastian Bach, Antonio Vivaldi, Johann Heinrich Schutz, Carl Maria von Weber, Richard Wagner and Robert Schumann.
  • An original letter by literary giant, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
  • Images from Dresden city life, such as a staged hunt in the town square, a fancy dress procession; and the first issues from the oldest German daily newspaper.
  • Literature from the Romantic era that flourished in Dresden, including works by the German poet Novalis, the poet and translator August Schlegel, and literary journals Athenaeum and Phoebus.
  • Original drawings of Dresden's baroque palaces and churches by architects Matthaus Poppelmann and Georg Bahr, and several cityscapes by various artists.
  • A volume from the most important and largest 18th-century German encyclopedia (68 vols.) and a sketchbook of master artist Albrecht Durer, featuring woodcuts.
  • Asian artifacts, featuring a palm leaf book from Java, from the third century B.C.

These artifacts, which survived the Dresden fire bombings during World War II, were largely unavailable and unknown to Westerners during the 40 years that the Saxon State Government was under communist rule. The exhibition is the result of four years of collaboration and planning between the Saxon State Library and the Library of Congress, and is part of the Library's mission to make resources from the world's major cultural institutions better known to Americans. It follows other exhibitions of the Library of Congress, featuring European collections: "Creating French Culture: Treasures from the Biliotheque nationale de France" and "Rome Reborn: The Vatican Library and Renaissance Culture."

The exhibition is funded by the Dresden Hilton Hotel, the Donors' Association for the Promotion of Sciences and Humanities in Germany, the Dresden Cultural Foundation of the Dresdner Bank, Friends of the Saxon State Library, the Saxon State Government and the Federal Republic of Germany.


PR 96-024
ISSN 0731-3527