Max Planck Institut for the History of Science

A glance in to the prime of Prussian culture:
Karl Friedrich Schinkel’s "Blick in Griechenlands Blüthe"
and Prussian cultural narratives around 1820

Berlin, 12./13. May 2006

Much of the grandeurized vision of Prussia and the ties that connected the state to the roots of humanity and its culture is encapsulated in Karl Friedrich Schinkel’s painting Blick in Griechenlands Blüthe (1825). Even though working with an all-too and self-evident antique imagery the painting stands in for the envisioned development at the time staging a cultural Kosmos of Prussia. It as much depicts an image of Prussia as a cultivated state as it depicts Prussia as a stately body of autonomous burghers creating a better and much brighter future. If anything at all the painting assembles exemplifyingly the many viable and publically discussed ideas of the time, that is of generation, cultivation, formation and construction, becoming and developing.

While the process of sketching and painting is basically mute this workshop tries to give voice to the many motifs within Schinkel’s Bildungs- and/or Kulturbild - which essentially is composed of numerous paintings making up the multiform glance into the prime of Prussian culture that was almost logically to form.

The idea of the workshop is to take the painting and its numerous polymorphic motifs as a starting point to discuss the agitation, function and agility within the visualisation of the flourishing culture of Antiquity and/or Prussia. In bringing together scholars working in the history of science, architecture, arts, technology and sociology it foremost intends - with a broadly conceived cultural perspective - to emphasize the various spheres of knowledge united and melt together in Schinkel’s multiform glance that also actively shaped many of the Prussian institutional settings. The workshop aims as much at an understanding of the narratives of the Prussian state and the modern components it was to be made of - far from mere virtue and proficiency - as it purposes the connotative and prominent terminology and verbal symbolism of Schinkel’s beautiful things brought together.

This incorporates domains such as the natural sciences, arts, history, philosophy, architecture, technology, landscape painting, geography, landscape design and garden art which all contributed - as a general expression of the life of the state and a continuation of nature in its constructive activity - to the national self-defining process of Prussia following the Napoleonic wars. Moreover the workshop aspires to consider and take into account the general topics, objects, narratives and the network of timely protagonists that are continguously, interwovenly and synaesthetically visualized in Schinkel’s painting.

In doing so the workshop proposes a twofold approach: on one hand it tries to bring together and amalgamate the almost antagonictically staged spheres in the painting. Antipodes such as the useful/ functional vs. the beautiful, culture vs. nature, technology vs. aesthetics, history vs. modernity and free evolvement vs. designed construction are only a few examples of timely ‘ideas’ incorporated in Schinkel’s glance into the prime of Greece’s culture. On the other hand it aims to find and locate the terminologies and symbolisms of the time, such as Bildung, Tätigkeit and Selbsttätigkeit, Freiheit, Blick and maybe Blüte and the notion of a society or institution as a Pflanzschule - which were all, almost elementally interlaced within the many coeval discourses and the above mentioned domains of contemporary knowledge.

In consolidating the topical constellations, ideas and configurations within the arts, sciences and technology the workshop wants to methodologically assess Schinkel’s painting as a visualization of the cultural narratives of Prussia around 1820.

contact: Björn Brüsch -


Freitag, 12. Mai
14.00 Einführung
14.15 Andreas Haus (Berlin, UdK): Einführung in Schinkels Gemälde Blick in Griechenlands Blüthe
14.45 Andreas Haus (Berlin, Udk): Schinkels ‘Blick in Griechenlands Blüthe’ - eine gemalte Staatsidee
15.30 Kaffeepause
16.00 Gert Gröning (Berlin, UdK): Die Baustelle im Grünen - ein ‘landschaftlicher’ Kommentar zu Karl Friedrich Schinkels Gemälde ‘Blick in Griechenlands Blüthe’
16.45 Björn Brüsch (Berlin, MPIWG): Preußische Blüthen. Zur Metaphorik des Blühens um 1820

Samstag, 13. Mai
09.30 Adolf Max Vogt (Zürich): Schinkel - ein Anschauungsdenker von Rang
10.15 Sven Dierig (Berlin): Handwerk, Technik, Wissenschaften: Die Tempelbaustelle als Metapher des Labors
11.00 Kaffeepause
11.30 Michael Niedermeier (Berlin, BBAW): Handwerk, Volk und die Beschwörung der vergehenden Kunstperiode
12.15 Iain Boyd Whyte (University of Edinburgh): Karl Friedrich Schinkel in Scotland, between Ossian and the Gasworks
13.00 Mittagspause
14.00 Adrian von Buttlar (Berlin, TU): Freiheit im Werden - Schinkels Bild der griechischen Polis als Postulat und Glücksversprechen
14.45 Kaffeepause
15.00 Heinz Schönemann (Potsdam): 'Die Blüte Griechenlands' im Pavillon der Römischen Bäder bei Schloß Charlottenhof in Potsdam

Veranstaltungsort: MPIWG, Boltzmannstr. 22, 14195 Berlin-Dahlem