As the residence of the prince-electors, the Residenzschloss (Royal Palace) was one of the most magnificent buildings in Germany during the Renaissance period. In 1701, it was destroyed by a great fire. The entire building was carefully reconstructed, including the magnificent sgraffito in the large courtyard.
The Katholische Hofkirche (Catholic Cathedral) was built during the reign of Frederick August II who was later crowned King August III. For the construction, which lasted from 1739 to 1755, he hired the Italian architect Gaetano Chiaveri. The craftsmen whom Chiaveri brought with him lived in the nearby ‘Italienisches Dörfchen’ (Italian village). The site is today occupied by a restaurant.
August III was also a great art connoisseur. In 1754 he acquired Raphael’s Sistine Madonna, one of the most famous paintings of the Italian Renaissance. This image of the Virgin Mary was painted in the years 1512 and 1513. Today, it is displayed in the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister (Old Masters Gallery) of the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden (Dresden State Art Collections).
The Italian painter Bernard Bellotto – better known as Canaletto – became famous for his realistic panoramas of various European cities. As a connoisseur of fine art, August III invited Bellotto to become his court painter. The panorama of Dresden dates from 1748 and subsequently became known as the ‘Canaletto view’.
The Canaletto view today: From the right bank of the Elbe, just below the Augustus Bridge, the observer can survey the Hofkirche and the dome of the Frauenkirche on the other side.
Here is a view of the future twin city, Florence, painted by a Dresden artist. Carl Gustav Carus was considered one of the greatest polymaths of the 19th century. He was a doctor, natural philosopher and painter, in which capacity he was heavily influenced by the aesthetics of Caspar David Friedrich. Blick auf Florenz (View of Florence) was painted in 1841.
After the death of Friedrich August II, the kingdom was ruled by his brother, Johann von Sachsen. Johann was also a figure of some literary talent. His translation of Dante’s Divine Comedy, which he wrote under the pseudonym of Philalethes, is still acclaimed today.