The Zwinger Miracle

October 19, 2009
By , Keller, TX
In Germany there is a small town called Dresden. The town has a quiet pride, as is displayed in the ornate and architecturally intricate churches and palaces that modestly adorn the petite, charming town. If it weren’t for these edifices, one might call the town quaint, cute even. The surface appearance hardly suggests the tragic history and priceless treasures that hide in this lovely town.

During World War II, Dresden was absolutely destroyed by Allied bombings. Although thousands of citizens died and the original churches and palaces were destroyed, the town’s treasured Zwinger Museum managed to survive. This is simply a side note to an art lover, however. Inside the Zwinger Museum resides paintings from some of the great masters of art, from Baroque to Renaissance and beyond. The museum in neatly organized by each master, with the earlier paintings of the east side and mounted on red walls, and the later painters on the west side on green walls.

The feature piece in the museum is truly a sight to behold. The massive painting is hundreds of years old. It shows the Madonna holding her Christ child among saints and angels. The painting in whole is absolutely beautiful, yet not half as famous as the little cherubs at the base of the painting. They are world famous, stealing the spotlight from even the Madonna herself. The cherubs were not in the least bit interested in fame, however, as their faces betrayed the curious emotion of boredom, even in the presence of Christ.

Although this painting was the best known, it was not the most spectacular. In one of the side galleries was hung a modest painting depicting a young girl looking out a window. While someone not familiar with art might pass on by the painting without another glance, my father’s well trained eye understood the significance of this image. The subject was bathed in a soft and calming light typical of the artist Vermeer. Seeing a Vermeer painting even once in a lifetime is seen as astronomical, as the master painter only created twenty or thirty works in his lifetime. A premature death robbed the world of the clarity and beautiful complexity of his paintings. This work was especially significant to me because it depicted a young woman of my age reading a letter, possibly from a lover or father. I found her story, or lack of one, absolutely fascinating.

Throughout the Zwinger museum, art has been carefully preserved through holocaust, poverty, and time. This valiant museum has pulled through these trials to deliver such works as those by the master Vermeer. Although hidden beneath layers of history in Dresden, it is worth seeing for its artistic significance.





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