First Exhibition on the Work of Eighteenth-Century Court Goldsmith Now Touring Europe and U.S.
Johann Christian Neuber (1736–1808) was one of Dresden’s most famous goldsmiths. Sometime before 1775 he was named court jeweler to Friedrich Augustus III, elector of Saxony, and in 1785 he was appointed curator of the Grünes Gewölbe (Green Vault), the magnificent royal collection of Augustus the Strong, the founder of the Meissen Porcelain Manufactory. A travel book published in 1782 that listed Dresden’s notable sights praised Neuber’s “extraordinary dexterity,” noting that “his pieces worked in mosaic are especially admired by all connoisseurs.” For more than thirty years, Neuber created small gold boxes, chatelaines, and watchcases decorated with local semiprecious stones such as agate, jasper, and carnelian. He fashioned enchanting landscapes, elaborate floral designs, and complex geometric patterns using cut stones, often incorporating Meissen porcelain plaques, cameos, and miniatures into his pieces. These one-of-a-kind objects, which reflect the Saxon court’s interest in both luxury items and the natural sciences, remain prized treasures today, but have never before been shown together in a monographic exhibition. Gold, Jasper, and Carnelian: Johann Christian Neuber at the Saxon Court will offer visitors to the Frick the first comprehensive introduction to this master craftsman’s oeuvre by highlighting approximately thirty-five boxes and other objects from the Grünes Gewölbe of the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Walters Art Museum, and private collections in Europe and the United States. Included in the exhibition will be several quartz specimens from the American Museum of Natural History to illustrate the raw materials used by Neuber in his work. The exhibition is on view this spring and summer in the Frick’s Oval Room, and will be accompanied by a publication and related public programs.