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Acts and processions were among the social highlights at the Saxon royal residence. They had dedicated themes, reflecting the court’s festive culture.

Contrafactur des Ringkrennens vndt anderer ritterspiel

Daniel Bretschneider: Contrafactur des Ringkrennensvndt anderer ritterspiel so vff Christiani Fürstlichen Beylager den 25. Apprillis Anno 82 in den Churf. Schlos zu Dresten gehalten worden.
Paper, etching, illustrations: Brush in watercolours, with handwritten addenda. – Circa 1584.
Shelf mark: Mscr.Dresd.K.1

© SLUB / Deutsche Fotothek

On 25 April 1582, Prince-Elector Christian I married Sophie (1568–1622), a daughter of John George, Elector of Brandenburg (1525–1598), in Dresden. This prompted a festive play whose “7th act” depicted a rural wedding. Following behind pairs of dancing peasant men and women is a small carriage carrying the garlanded bride and groom. Released wedding doves and fresh, rooted greenery are added as traditional symbols of good luck. Elector Augustus can also be seen among the two following groups of rake-bearing horsemen.

Ein Buch von allerley Inuentionen, zu Schlittenfahrthen

Daniel Bretschneider: Ein Buch von allerley Inuentionen, zu Schlittenfahrthen.
Paper, illustrations: Feather in ink, brush in gouache, with handwritten descriptions. – Last third of the 16th century.
Shelf mark: Mscr.Dresd.B.104

© SLUB / Deutsche Fotothek

The 50 draft designs of magnificent sleighs collated in this volume were presented to Elector Christian II by Dresden painter Daniel Bretschneider in 1602. The best motifs were to be used to create winter plays involving sleighs. The sleigh shown here depicts the Greek saga of Actaeon, according to which the Theban hero watches Diana while hunting as she bathes naked with her nymphs. The enraged goddess punished him savagely; Actaeon was transformed into a deer and mauled by his own dogs.