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Path 3 - Art of Antiquity and Enlightened Collecting

Male homosexual collectors are the focus of the third path

Frederick the Great of Prussia – Noblesse Oblige

It may not be widely known, but Prussia’s King Frederick II (1712–1786) laid the foundation for the Berlin Antikensammlung by acquiring the famous Stosch Gem Collection for the Prussian court in 1764. Unlike other homosexual collectors of his era, who are also to be found in the Bode-Museum, Frederick, being the future king and commander-in-chief of the Prussian troops during times of war, had to fulfil the societal and dynastic demands that were placed upon him. These requirements are also reflected in most of the depictions of the Prussian king, for example in the marble copy of Johann Gottfried Schadow’s monumental sculpture in the small cupola of the Bode-Museum, which depicts him in the pose of a stern general.

It is very probable that Frederick was gay. His marriage to Elisabeth Christine von Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel-Bevern (1715–1797) produced no offspring, and the couple always lived separately. Instead, Frederick maintained particularly intimate relationships with certain men in his court, which was a real thorn in the side of his father, Frederick William I (1688-1740), known as the “Soldier King”.