Museumslandschaft Hessen Kassel
In the future, the Federal Cultural Foundation will focus its funding efforts more heavily on cultural-historic exhibitions with an international scope. The following exhibition is one such example.
The Staatliche Museen Kassel (State Museums of Kassel) have developed an exhibition concept that presents the Kingdom of Westphalia as a forerunner of the Federal Republic of Germany in terms of its free and democratic constitutional order.
As the French expansion policies took hold of the German-speaking lands on the right of the Rhine in 1804, Napoleon drafted an edict mandating the creation of new Francophile states. To this end, the Kingdom of Westphalia was founded in 1807 and Napoleon's youngest brother, Jérôme Bonaparte, was enthroned as its king. The Kingdom of Westphalia was a Napoleonic model state with modern judicial and administrative branches which embodied the achievements of the French Revolution. Before it was dissolved following the Battle of Nations at Leipzig in 1813, the Kingdom of Westphalia was the first German state to receive a written constitution. It was also the first state in the German-speaking territories to elect its own parliament which met in session in the capital and royal seat of Kassel.
The modernisation efforts spearheaded by France were not only political, but also cultural in nature. Kassel emanated "le style Empire" to all of northern Germany - much like a "corporate design" of the new state. As the embodiment of order and reason, its style of representation went hand-in-hand with the state system of pre-constitutionalism. The Kingdom of Westphalia was located amidst the new nation states established after 1800. It was based on the interaction between two large European lan-guage and cultural areas.
The main figure of the exhibition was the French monarch, whom Germans mockingly called "König Lustik" (King Happy), as he confirmed their prejudice of the French as being happy-go-lucky. The exhibition took a different view of Jérôme's alleged extravagance by interpreting it as an attempt to legitimise his right to rule for lack of a dynastic past. Thanks to his efforts, his brief reign resulted in significant cultural achievements in the fields of music, theatre, architecture and arts and crafts. At the same time, however, the landgrave collections in Kassel suffered heavy losses on account of Napoleon's efforts to concentrate Europe's art treasures in the Louvre.
This cultural-historic exhibition was the first to investigate both the positive and negative aspects of this historically unique model state in the German-speaking lands and presented the results to a broad, national audience. With approximately 750 objects, the exhibition provided visitors a comprehensive view of the multifaceted history of the Kingdom of Westphalia. One of its goals was to identify all the known masterpieces removed to Paris almost two centuries ago and present them for the first time again in Kassel. The Hermitage in St. Petersburg agreed to lend Claude Lorrain's cycle, "Morning", "Noon", "Evening" and "Night", which is now in its possession.