Venus in the Musselwagon by Max Klinger at the Alte Nationalgalerie in Berlin

In this episode, we’ll be taking a closer look at Venus in the Musselwagon by Max Klinger at the Alte Nationalgalerie in Berlin. Welcome to Art, Culture & Books with me, Anthony King.

Max Klinger, born on February 18, 1857, in Leipzig, Germany, and died on July 5, 1920, was a distinguished German artist renowned for his significant contributions to painting, sculpture, prints, and graphics. He played a crucial role in the Symbolist movement, earning him a cult-like following and establishing him as a key figure in early German modernism.

One of Klinger’s notable paintings is “Venus in the Musselwagon” from 1884, along with its numerous counterparts, including “Venus in a Shell Chariot,” created in 1912. This was the theme of artworks that adorned the vestibule of the Villa Albers in Berlin, a project he undertook in the early 1880s. Almost three decades later, during the Great Art Exhibition in Dresden in 1912, Klinger produced a second version for the vestibule of Villa Albers. At the heart of the sea frieze was “Venus in a Shell Chariot.” very similar to this painting. The daring, lengthwise arrangement portrays the goddess of love and her entourage navigating the open sea, inspired by the artistic traditions of the Renaissance and Baroque eras.

Klinger’s Impressionist approach to painting breathes a modern vitality into the piece, giving rise to a sparkling array of colours. The liveliness of the scene is intensified by seagulls gracefully riding the breeze, the sail billowing in the wind, and the horses propelling the carriage across the sea. The vivacious delight radiating from the figures is palpable, beckoning observers to join the festive procession into an expanse of limitless possibilities.

If you visit the Alte Nationalgalerie in Berlin and encounter this artwork in person, you’ll likely notice a significant crack across one corner, adding an intriguing element to the piece.

The Alte Nationalgalerie, situated on the Museum Island in the historic centre of Berlin, Germany, is a listed building. Constructed from 1862 to 1876 by the directive of King Frederick William IV of Prussia, the gallery showcases Neoclassical and Renaissance Revival architectural styles.

By Anthony King (c)