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The Magic of the White Rose. A History of One Festival
April 11 - July 30, 2000

The festival that was called "The Magic of the White Rose" was held in Potsdam on July 13 1829 and was dedicated to the birthday of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna. Charlotta, the elder daughter of Friedrich Wilhelm III and Queen Luisa, having adopted Orthodox religion in Russia got the name Alexandra Feodorovna and in 1817 married brother of the Russian Emperor Grand Duke Nikolai Pavlovich (Russian Emperor since 1826).

In 1829 the Royal couple visited Berlin. June 11 was the date of the wedding of the second brother of Charlotta Prince Wilhelm and the niece of Nicholas I Princess Augusta of Saxe-Weimar. But the festival intended to be a medieval tournament of knights with then popular "life pictures" was dedicated to the Russian Empress. The festival was initiated by brothers of Charlotta and Duke Karl Mecklenburg-Strelitz, who organized almost every masquerade in Berlin at that time. White Rose, the symbol of the festival, was the favourite flower and the emblem of Charlotta. Since her childhood she bears the name of the tender, pure and noble as the white Rose Blanchefleur heroine of the novel "The Magic Ring" by baron Friedrich de la Motte-Fouque. The Cottage in the Alexandria park of Peterhof built in the Gothic style - a chivalrous present of Nicholas I to his wife - turned to be the continuation of the festival in Sanssousi. Alexandra Feodorovna used to keep her precious relics there.

The first thing to arrive here was one of the six "memorial tournament notebooks" commissioned and presented by Alexandra Feodorovna to her sisters and sisters-in-law to July 13. Every knight was to draw his knightly autograph in the shape of a personal shield with the motto. Later a lot of works of art were executed in commemoration of this festival. The sonnets written by baron de la Motte-Fouque were sent to Peterhof to the Empress. The poet Karl Wimmel wrote a 12-pages poem devoted to this event. Princes of Prussia commissioned brothers Gropius to execute a special album with lithographies representing the main scenes of the festival. Lithograpies of Julius Schoppe were made from scetches of Karl Friedrich Schinkel representing the "life scenes". 12 sheets by Henrich Stuermer show the procession of the knights. In the album there are also works by young Eduard Gaertner.

The portrait of Wilhelm in the knight's garment was commissioned to Franz Krueger and sent to Russia to be housed in the Cottage.

To the second anniversary of the festival brothers and sisters of Alexandra Feodorovna presented her a memorial silver cup executed by Johann-Georg Hossauer from the design by Karl Friedrich Schinkel. Later appeared other souvenirs devoted to this event: the poem by Vasily Zhukovsky to the Silver Wedding anniversary of the royal couple in 1842; the chandelier consisting of 25 silver candles in the shape of roses made by Hossauer; the gift album to commemorate the Silver Jubilee of the festival in 1854 made by Adolph Menzel and some others.


The procession of the knights at the festival "The Magic of the White Rose" from the album
Adolph Menzel
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The view of the palace in Potsdam from the album of 1829
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The cavalcade of the festival participants led by the crownprince Friedrich Wilhelm of Prussia
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Silver mount of the gift album of 1854
Watner firm in Berlin
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The performance in the palace in Potsdam
Adolph Menzel
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