Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Heidelberg Schlossgarten

Hortus PalatinusThis famous 1620 engraving of 'Hortus Palatinus', (referred to as
the eighth wonder of the world at one stage) is by Matthäus Merian.
  • A painting based on Merian's engraving, by Jacques Foucières.
  • This photo is a recent vague approximation of the same view.
  • Merian is also said to have made another engraving of Heidelberg Castle in 1645 which *I think* is from the opposite direction.1
  • 1815 painting by Carl Philipp Fohr.

"Out of a billowy upheaval of vivid green foliage, a rifle-shot removed, rises the huge ruin of Heidelberg Castle, with empty window arches, ivy-mailed battlements, moldering towers—the Lear of inanimate nature—deserted, discrowned, beaten by the storms, but royal still, and beautiful. It is a fine sight to see the evening sunlight suddenly strike the leafy declivity at the Castle's base and dash up it and drench it as with a luminous spray, while the adjacent groves are in deep shadow.

Behind the Castle swells a great dome-shaped hill, forest-clad, and beyond that a nobler and loftier one. The Castle looks down upon the compact brown-roofed town; and from the town two picturesque old bridges span the river. Now the view broadens; through the gateway of the sentinel headlands you gaze out over the wide Rhine plain, which stretches away, softly and richly tinted, grows gradually and dreamily indistinct, and finally melts imperceptibly into the remote horizon.

I have never enjoyed a view which had such a serene and satisfying charm about it as this one gives." [Mark Twain - 'A Tramp Abroad' - 1880]

Hortus Palatinus titlepage

zoo wall

wall fountain

man fountain

walled fountain

women and animal water fountain

women and fish water feature

fountain mountain

heidelberg grotto

fountain designs

garden design

garden wall

column designs heidelberg

Heidelberg Schloss (castle) is perched on a steep slope 80 metres above the Necker river in south west Germany. Sometime around the end of the 14th century, Prince Elector Ruprecht III built a Royal residence on the site and construction continuted intermittently for the next 400 years. Consequently the palace, which evolved into a fort and then into a castle, contains medieval, baroque, renaissance and gothic architectural elements among its remaining structures.

The most significant building work was carried out in the 16th and 17th centuries, beginning (allegedly) with the transfer of columns to the site from a palace that had belonged to Charlemagne. But it was during the time of Prince Elector (and briefly, King) Frederick V that construction of the famed Schlossgarten (castle garden) was undertaken.

Salomon de Caus (1576-1626) was a french Huguenot exile who trained primarily as an architect and mathematician. His vocational output extended to geometry, astronomy/astrology and music but he developed into an hydraulic engineer after spending time in Florence with Bernardo Buontalenti at Pratolino at the end of the 16th century.

De Caus began designing wells, fountains and hydraulic automata in Belgium and then went to England in the service of the Prince of Wales. He completed several garden designs (some included in his 1612 book, 'La Perspective, Avec la Raison des Ombres et Miroirs') between educating the royal household in drawing techniques. His interest in waterworks expanded with trick fountains and elaborate ornamental water feature commissions, in which de Caus played a pivotal role in spreading the thematic elements of italian renaissance garden design to northern Europe.

After the death of the Prince of Wales de Caus moved to Heidelberg and employment under Prince Elector Frederick V. Soon afterwards, in 1615, he published his great hyrdraulic work, 'Les Raisons des Forces Mouvantes avec Diverses Machines', which gave rise to the proposition that de Caus had been the first to document a steam engine. (It's quite amusing seeing the different wording on this topic between the french (trans.) and english wikipedia accounts - doubtless it was a link in the chain of knowledge however)

De Caus spent 5 years designing and constructing the renowned hortus palatinus (palace garden) for the Prince Elector, which included grotto features and more of his elaborate water sculptures among the mannerist terrace layout. But the construction was never completed due to the interruption by the 30 year war which saw the 'winter King' Frederick flee the country. The garden and palace buildings were greatly damaged - not for the first or last time. Lightning strikes in the 16th and 18th centuries and various wars all contributed to the deterioration of the site, despite intermittent attempts at reconstruction. In the modern era, restoration of the central building was carried out at the beginning of the 20th century and vestiges of de Caus's garden motifs and the remains of the palace ruins are now preserved.


misteraitch said...

The Schloss and part of its grounds also feature in this engraving of Merian’s.

misteraitch said...

In his catalogue of Merian’s work, Lucas Heinrich Wüthrich attributes (I think) seven of the thirty illustrations in the 1620 Hortus palatinus to Merian. If I am reading it right, a number of the other illustrations are by J.T. de Bry himself. I think the large engraving of the Schloss may be based on Foucières’s painting, and not the other way around. I haven’t yet found any reference to the 1645 image in Wüthrich’s catalogue (which isn’t to say it’s not in there somewhere), but it could also be one of Matthäus jr.’s works...

peacay said...

Thanks very much. That's a great picture - I notice the croquet seeing it this time around. It's actually (by far) the best orientating image of the estate.

I wonder how much of the artwork (paintings or engravings) of the 'complete' castle/garden are in fact accurate versus imagined anyway, in so far as construction was never finished.

I questioned who the artist might be here in this book because I thought the majority of illustrations were a little inferior to that top image. It may just be that this Uni of Heidelberg book is the shabbiest digitized book they have online however (which it is) and it gives a false impression of the engraving quality? Hence, I wouldn't have guessed de Bry was a contributing artist if I'd been put on the spot. Interesting that you say he did.


peacay said...

A newly uploaded book on the Schlossgarten at Univ. of Heidelberg (Johann Metzger, 1829).

Unknown said...

I guess digital reconstruction start here: www.zum.de/Faecher/G/BW/Landeskunde/rhein/hd/schloss/garten/virt/vgeneral.htm

And then click links after im Detail on right side.

peacay said...

Thanks Jan. I've added the link to the post.

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