Brass of the Month
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Electress Sophia of Saxony, Freiberg, Saxony, Germany
This month’s Brass is another from the mausoleum in Freiberg Cathedral, Saxony, set aside for members of the Albertine Line of the House of Wettin. It commemorates Electress Sophia of Saxony, born Duchess of Brandenburg, who died on 7th December 1622. (HKC 7)
It is located on the north side of the choir, towards its western end, with the brass of her husband Elector Christian I opposite on the south side. It
comprises two plates with overall dimensions of 2632 x 1483mm.
Centrally positioned is a portrait of Sophia as an older person with a fuller figure and somewhat forbidding in appearance. She stands on a plain
pavement in front of a Renaissance-
political significance and meant to be understood by onlookers from her immediate family/ friends only.
The last two rows of letters have been deciphered and read; “Sophia Geboren Aus Churfürstlichen Stamme Brandenburg / Churftürstin Vnd Herzogin Zu Sachsen Witwe”
The brass to her daughter Duchess Dorothea, Abbess of Quedlinburg d. 1617 in the south chapel of the mausoleum, is similar in this respect. She holds a tablet with an arrangement of letters with her year of death-
Sophia wears a richly embroidered dress with numerous folds reaching to her feet, over which is a long-
1. Top from the dexter side: Brandenburg; An uncrowned Lion; An armed Griffin; Ditto.
2. Dexter side: Wenden or Cassuben; An armed Griffin; Ditto; Nürnberg.
3. Sinister side: Saxony; Thüringen; Meissen; A regalia Shield.
As with all of the Freiberg series of brasses there is an intelligent and highly effective use of shading and crosshatching.
As with all of the Freiberg series of brasses there is an intelligent and highlyeffective use of shading and crosshatching
• 1606 Sybilla Elisabeth wife of Elector Johann Georg I.
• 1608 Still-
• 1611 Elector Christian II.
• 1612 Duke Christian Albrecht infant son of Elector Johann Georg I.
• 1615 Duke August son of Elector Christian I and Sophia.
• 1617 Duchess Dorothea, Abbess of Quedlinburg daughter of Elector Christian I and Sophia.
• 1622 Duke Heinrich infant son of Elector Johann Georg I.
The inscription reads;
Im Jahr des HERRN 1622. den 7. Decemb: ein Viertel vor 11 uhrn
uf den Abendt ist selig von dieser Welt abgeschieden Die Durchlauchtigste Hochge=
borne Furstin vnd Fraw Sophia, Herzogin vnd Churfurstin Zu Sachßen, ge=
borne aus Churfe. stam Brandenburgk etc., Landgräfin in Turingen, Margräfin Zu Meis=
sen vnd Burggräfin Zu Magdeburgk, Des weiland Durchlauchtigsten Hochgebornen
Fursten vnd Herrn Christiani 1., Herzogens vnd Churfurstens Zu Sachszens etc. seli=
ger Gedächtnus vielgeliebte Gemahlin, I. Churfe. G. Alters 5+ Jahr 6. Monat/
vnd 1 Tag. Der Allerhöch∫te verleihe Ihr. Chürf‘ G. Am Jungsten tage eine fröliche Auferstehung Zu ewiger frewde. Amen.
“In the year of our Lord 1622 on 7th December, a quarter to 11 of the evening, deceased happily the most Excellent Highborn Princess and Lady, Lady Sophia, Duchess and Electress of Saxony, Margravine of Meissen and Burgravine of Magdeburg, the much-
The brass is a product of the Hilliger workshop, by then relocated to Dresden, during the time of Hans Hilliger (8th February 1567 – 24th April 1640). Elector Johann Georg I ordered three brasses from Hans on 15th December 1624 and was quoted c.600 guilders. These related to Sophia his mother, his infant son Duke Heinrich (1622), and his sister Duchess Dorothea (1617). The remaining four brasses referred to in the bullet points above were included in another batch ordered by Elector Johann Georg I from Hans. The majority, if not all, of the inscriptions on these seven brasses are the work of Konrad Teuerling. He was possibly a goldsmith given the intricate skill evident in their execution. The artist responsible for the brass portrait of Sophia is not known. It could have been Hans Fasolt or Andreas Göding (1570-
Sophia was born on 6th June 1568 at Zechlin castle in Rheinsberg, the daughter of Elector Johann Georg of Brandenburg and his second wife Sabine of Brandenburg-
annotations. The path towards a “Second Reformation” halted abruptly on his death. Duke Friedrich Wilhelm 1 of Saxe-
authority with Krell imprisoned in Königstein fortress, a citadel strengthened, ironically, by Christian I. He was there for ten years until execution on 9th October 1601 in the Jüdenhof/Neumarkt in Dresden, on the orders of the newly appointed Elector Christian II and at Sophia’s request. A flagstone with his initials survives at the point where he fell.
Sophia died at Colditz castle on 7th December 1622. The Sophienkirche in Dresden, a former Gothic church she had remodelled and re-
I record my thanks to Reinhard Lamp for the translation of the foot inscription.
© Kevin Herring Article & Photos
99 Heft 2007. ISBN 1611-
2. Helen Watanabe-
to Baroque”. Palgrave 2002. ISBN 0-
3. H.K. Cameron “A list of Monumental Brasses on the Continent of
Europe”. MBS London 1970 pp.51-