|The Antiquities Collection|
|Connoisseurs regard the antiquities collection in Schloss Fasanerie as the most important private collection in Germany—thanks to its broad spectrum of works comprised of large sculpture, busts, pottery, and small decorative arts dating from a period of more than a millennium.|
|Top pieces in every area of the collection garner the highest recognition from archaeologists themselves. The marble portrait of the Caligula, for instance, is considered to be the best existing portrait of him. The so-called Kekrops Krater, an attic vase around 2,400 years old, is frequently cited not only in archaeological literature but more recently in school textbooks as well.|
| Moreover, the variety of the vase collection provides an excellent overview of the wealth of form and the art of vase painting produced over the course of the centuries. Rounding out the collection are important works of large sculpture, a rich terracotta collection, and gold jewelry in a broad range of artistic treatments.
History of the Antiqiuties Collection
The collecting and study of classical antiquities has a long and distinguished history in the Hesse family. Landgraf Friedrich II (1720-1785) founded the Museum Fridericianum in Kassel, the first large antiquities collection in Germany accessible to the public. These works formed the basis for the collection now housed in Schloss Wilhelmshöhe, part of the State Museums of Kassel. In the 19th century, Empress Friedrich (1840-1901) also was a devoted collector of antiquities, which passed into the Hessian House Foundation along with her wide assortment of decorative arts. The Empress strived for the broadest possible range in her classical collection. She also developed personal contacts with archaeologists and scholars of her day. Less than two years before her death a guide to the antiquities in the museums of Rome, which still is regarded as a standard work, was dedicated to her.
Her grandson Philipp von Hessen (1896-1980) followed in the family tradition and became one of the important collectors in its history. His love of collecting was evident already in his youth when he frequented the art dealers of Frankfurt. After completing his architectural and art history studies in Berlin he moved to Rome where he worked as an interior architect. In the 1920s in Rome, intense building activity and the regulation of Tiber River brought many antiquities to light, fuelling Philipp’s enthusiasm and giving him the opportunity to develop a discriminating eye. In Rome Philipp also met Mafalda (1902-1944), the daughter of Italian King Vittorio Emanuel III (1869-1947), and they were married in 1925. Despite his status and connections, Philipp pursued his collecting interests as a private person making purchases from dealers and exchanges with other collectors. His selections were informed by his knowledge and his ability to evaluate works critically, qualities for which the collection is known today.
Early on, Philipp presented the family’s classical antiquities to the public in galleries of the Landgrafenmuseum in Kassel, which he installed in 1935. This was destroyed in World War II. In 1949 Philipp undertook the renovation of Schloss Fasanerie as a public museum that brought together art of all the eras covered by the family holdings, including the antiquities that he had previously exhibited in his Kassel museum. He himself designed the installation of the collection in various rooms of the Schloss and created an architectural addition, the airy Gartensaal. Here sculptures and vitrine objects are illuminated by light from windows that open onto the garden on three sides. Philipp continued to add to the collection throughout his life and brought it to the level of importance it has today.