HEERMANN, Paul
(b. 1673, Weigmannsdorf, d. 1732, Dresden)

King Augustus II of Poland

c. 1718
White marble, height 74 cm (without pedestal)
Gemäldegalerie, Dresden

This magnificent bust depicts King Augustus II of Poland (1670—1753), known as Augustus the Strong, as an energetic and sensuous ruler. The sculptural qualities of his facial structure have been emphasised in a striking manner. The rippling locks of the wig have not been given the compact fullness typical of many rulers' busts from around 1700, but instead have a linear delicacy. Likewise, the drapes of his cloak have been kept relatively flat, so as to emphasise the volumes of the head and focus attention on the face of the king with his lively gaze. Hanging across his cuirass is the sash of the Catholic Polish Order of the White Eagle, which Augustus reintroduced in 1705 as the Order of the House of Wettin, and visible on his cloak above is the order's star. The cloak has been draped in such a way as to conceal the king's left shoulder; its folds echo the shield-like contour of the bust and allow part of the armour and the beginnings of an arm to show. Together with the powerful turn of the head, this underlines the monarch's enterprising spirit.

Paul Heermann was the son of a sculptor, George Heermann, and worked in Prague, Rome and Dresden.