National Geographic : 1978 Nov
Ornate weapons delighted the nobility of Saxony. Wheel-lock rifle inlaid with deer horn was made in the 17th century. Grenade launcher from the 18th century also shot fireworks from its bell-shaped muzzle to light up court festivals. Inlays of silver wire and appliques of gilded brass embellish a flintlock pistol made around 1750. other princely states, elected the Holy Ro man Emperor. As Dr. Menzhausen spoke, the charisma of Augustus emerged with the intricacy of a Bach fugue. It was he who opened the world of art to the Saxon public for the first time. It was he who unlocked all the accumulated treasures of his predecessors and created a museum of precious objects, the first of its kind, from the Green Vault, originally called the "Secret Depository" because it served as Saxony's treasury. "Augustus was a fantastic exception to the other electors, but he wasn't truly a great man," Dr. Menzhausen added. "A great prince has to be a great politician, and that Augustus was not. In his early years he got involved in a war to the north and was badly beaten by Sweden. "Augustus died ten years too soon, in 1733; there were so many projects he left un finished. But he truly opened a window on the world for his people. He commissioned the best artists in Europe to create works 710 based on his own vast knowledge of faraway lands-Japan, China, India, Egypt, and the New World." Inside the Green Vault Dr. Menzhausen displayed a fascinating example of a New World connection: an exquisite statue of a blackamoor carved from pearwood and bearing a stone matrix embedded with Co lombian emeralds the size of ice cubes (page 708). Court sculptor Balthasar Permoser carved the statue itself, while Dinglinger did the goldwork. "Wilhelm Krfiger prob ably crafted the tortoiseshell tray holding the emeralds. It's difficult to see, but if you look carefully underneath the tray .. ." I peered and saw a delicate filigree, barely visible. "He did it to make the piece abso lutely perfect," the curator explained. "He knew that probably no one would notice it. It's like a signature." From 13 miles northwest of Dresden comes another signature that certifies such perfection: crossed swords. They are the NationalGeographic,November 1978 r-v^'