Artistic Influences and Models
Nineteenth-century society, i.e. the reinvigorated bourgeoisie as well as the clergy and nobility, felt obliged to legitimise its position occasionally. This fundamental attitude explains why despite or perhaps in response to industrialisation new artistic forms of historicism developed. By resorting to bygone artistic eras, a legitimising tradition was meant to be created in conjunction with a political declaration of intent, which was able to interpret the same style very differently in accordance with the context of time and place. Historicism did not aim for simple imitation; rather it focused on idealisation and perfection. The successful combination of past stylistic elements was considered in nearly every field of the fine arts as on a par with an original creation.
Ludwig’s own imagination always rested on specific models, for example on the Versailles of the French kings, on the Middle Ages, as he had encountered them in the frescoes at Schloss Hohenschwangau, or on Richard Wagner’s musical dramas. King Ludwig II acquired for himself knowledge about the world displayed in his castles through his personal reading or in collaboration with single advisors (for instance Hyazinth Holland 1827-1918). Thereby, he considered historical works and memoirs as highly as contemporary or "modern" theatre plays. His own creative achievement, therefore, consisted less of "original inventions" than of the excerption and composition of minute details for his castles and theatrical worlds.
From 1844, Carl August Lebschée (1800-1877) started to publish a series of lithographs of "picturesque castles" based on drawings by Domenico Quaglio. In their romantic conceit, they corresponded to Ludwig’s taste who owned a copy of the collection. It can be shown that he was inspired by the depiction of the ruined castle Falkenstein; he ordered the mountain and the ruin to be purchased in 1884 and planned there the building of his final castle. The famous wild and romantic design by the set designer Christian Jank was conducted solely on the basis of Quaglio’s exaggerated drawing.
All of Ludwig’s building projects had a conscious or unconscious relationship with the undertakings of his father, King Maximilian II. The initial plan for a boulevard with festival hall above the Isar was deliberately conceived in parallel and in the immediate neighbourhood of Maximilianstraße and the Maximilianeum. Schloss Neuschwanstein is a highly visible counterpart to his father’s Hohenschwangau, same as Ludwig’s Villa in Linderhof was created from one of his father’s lodges (that was later demolished and rebuilt once again near the castle). Most of Ludwig’s schemes were, therefore, counter designs to or aimed at perfecting his father’s buildings.
In this sense, the following volume needs to be mentioned here. The native Tyrolian, Joseph Freiherr von Hormayr-Hortenburg (1782-1848), was an Austrian functionary and historian. He was one of the organisers and leaders of the uprising against Bavarian rule in 1809. Even before the end of the Napoleonic Wars, he became a political adversary of Prince Clemens von Metternich. As a result, he finally emigrated in 1827 – invited by Ludwig I – to Bavaria. Having joined the Bavarian civil service, he fulfilled a number of assignments, for example at the Bavarian imperial archive. At the same time, he dedicated himself to historical research.
His chronicle of Hohenschwangau was published in 1842 and thus several years after the reconstruction of the dilapidated site had come to a certain conclusion in 1837 and already served the future King Maximilian II and his family as their favourite summer residence. Even though Hormayr aimed for correctness, his work rather corresponds in its mixture of (uncritically assessed) secondary and primary sources and in its very excessive depiction to the romantic style that dominated the milieus of Maximilian and later of Ludwig II. The swan symbolism appears here for the first time and was going to turn into a decisive moment in Ludwig’s mediaeval imagination. The book served not least as a "source" for Karl August von Heigel (1835-1905), who was commissioned by Ludwig to compose three theatre plays on Schwangau’s history.
The frescoes that decorated the rooms of Schloss Hohenschwangau became a lasting influence on Ludwig’s imagination. The paintings were created after designs by the artist Moritz von Schwind (1804-1871) and were executed mainly by his students. They show scenes from sagas, from legends and from history. The publication on hand, which presents copperplate prints after the watercolour designs by von Schwind, therefore does not focus on the colourful execution at Hohenschwangau, but on the master’s figural composition. Thereby, it stands entirely in the tradition of the nineteenth century that in fresco painting frequently accorded the same or even higher quality to the "invention" of a motif in the drawing or cartoon as to the final accomplishment.
Ludwig II was enthusiastic about Richard Wagner’s Opera Tannhäuser, premiered in 1845. He planned from the very beginning to integrate copies of the Fest- and Sängersaal (feasting and minstrels’ hall) from the Thuringian Wartburg in his castle Neuschwanstein (realised in combination). From 1842, the heir to the throne (later Grand Duke) Carl Alexander von Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach (1818-1901) had begun to reconstruct the ancestral castle of the landgraves of Thuringia in a historicising manner. By the mid-1860s, the reconstruction was already quite advanced. Ludwig was soon familiar – as in the case of Versailles – with the appearance of the castle and of its renovated key rooms from diverse illustrated works and from the realistic depictions as well as from the set designs at his court and national theatres.
From 1 to 3 June 1867, Ludwig II and his brother Otto travelled incognito to Eisenach. Already on the first day, they visited – after the incognito had been revealed without interruptions – the rooms of the Wartburg, a day later they climbed the Hörselberg (the site of Wagner’s Venusgrotte/grotto of Venus) and returned to Bavaria prior to having to pay their respects to Grand Duke Carl Alexander.
After the building work on the Wartburg had been completed, the art historian and publisher Max Baumgärtel (1852-1925) published in 1906 a comprehensive large-format luxury edition. It documented – apart from diverse interior decorations, which were not implemented until after 1867 – the appearance of the Wartburg at the time of Ludwig II and before the, at least in part, heavy changes of the twentieth century.
Between 20 and 29 August 1867, Ludwig II travelled to France to attend the Paris World Exhibition, the cultural mega event of those years. In Paris, he and his grandfather, Ludwig I, were the guests of the French Emperor Napoleon III (1808-1873) – a highly political gesture after the Bavarian defeat in the German war of 1866. Apart from the political situation, Ludwig was particularly fascinated and inspired by the exhibits displayed at the fair.
The Maurische Kiosk (Morisco Kiosk), displayed as the Prussian contribution, had a lasting impact on the Bavarian king. Nonetheless, he was only able to acquire it much later, in 1876, and to have it installed on the grounds of Schloss Linderhof.
In lieu of the exhibits seen by King Ludwig at the fair, we present in this place the richly illustrated official World Exhibition newspaper.
During the journey to France in 1867, Ludwig visited Château Pierrefonds on 24 July, following the invitation of Emperor Napoleon III. The architect Eugène-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc had been reconstructing the castle "in style" ever since 1857. Even though the castle itself did not serve Ludwig as a model for his own edifices, he was much impressed by the project. Research, therefore, considers Pierrefonds as an important spur on the king’s building passion.
The digitised volumes combine Viollet-le-Ducs own description of the history of Pierrefonds combined with an illustrated volume that shows the castle after the final abandonment of all work in 1885.
Although Ludwig II visited the castle of Versailles on 25 August 1874, his birthday, for his imagination the castle in its surviving appearance was less important than his knowledge about it gained from books. The king perused numerous books about life at the court of Louis XIV and XV or had them summarised by his court secretaries. The respective books were obtained through the Court and State Libraries, the French envoy to Munich or the Bavarian envoys to Paris. Contemporaries as well as numerous letters attest to Ludwig’s surprisingly detailed knowledge about these fields of French (cultural and art) history. Schloss Linderhof as well as Schloss Herrenchiemsee (originally planned as "T'meicos Ettal" or "Meicost Ettal" [L’état c’est moi] in the Graswang valley) became the outcome of this lifelong passion for the France of the ancien régime.
The work presented here – first published after the death of Ludwig – combines part of the data and illustrations known to Ludwig II who used them for planning his "T'meicos Ettal", which would finally become Schloss Herrenchiemsee.
The illustrated works presented here served as a rule for a number of purposes. For amateurs as well as for researchers they documented the appearance of works of art and interiors that were often enough not open to the public; at the same time they were supposed to provide models to artists and patrons for their own commissions and works and thereby helped to set a certain style.
Up to the 1880s, such works were almost entirely illustrated by lithographs or with expensive copperplate prints. Later on, comparatively cheaper photographical reproductions replaced them.
On the completion of the Allerheiligen-Hofkirche (Court Church of All Saints) at the Munich Residence, which had been erected from 1826, in 1837 the volume presented here was published. Its lithographs document the frescoes embellishing the church. The frescoes were painted after designs by Heinrich von Hess (1798-1863) by himself and by his students on gold back and depict a complicated programme of figures and scenes of the Old and New Testaments, of the church fathers and of symbols of the seven sacraments. Apart from some very small remains, they fell victim to the damages of WWII and to the subsequent neglect of the ruin of the Hofkirche.
The Hofkirche and its frescoes served Ludwig as models for diverse interiors at his castles. In particular, the throne hall of Neuschwanstein cannot be imagined without this example.
The volume published by the architect Georg Friedrich Seidel (1823-1895) is one of the earliest illustrated works discussing the Residence and it still includes copperplate prints. The etchings show above all the design of the ceilings and of the wall elevations of the Steinzimmer (stone chambers), of the Päpstliche Zimmer (papal chambers) and of the Reiche Zimmer (rich chambers).
Duke (later Elector) Maximilian I (1573-1651) had the Reiche Kapelle (rich chapel, dedicated 1607) set up as his private oratory. It is one of the most precious chambers in the Munich Residence. Up to 1918, the chapel served as the private chapel of the Bavarian rulers and hosted in its wardrobes a rich treasure of religious works of art.
The large-format illustrated work, published in 1874-76 and presented here, combines a representative selection of treasures from the Reiche Kapelle, which includes works of art from the early middle ages (ciborium of Emperor Arnulf of Carinthia) to the Baroque. Franz Xaver Zettler (1841-1916), the founder of the royal Bavarian glass design company, provided the opulent chromolithographs, while the art historian Jacob Stockbauer composed the descriptions. The custodian responsible for the Reiche Kapelle, Dean Leonhard Enzler, contributed the historical introduction to the work. The valuable publication was sponsored by King Ludwig II.
Many of the works of art depicted here, are today displayed in an ancillary room of the Reiche Kapelle; the most precious have found a place in the rooms of the Schatzkammer (residential treasury). At the time of the publication, these rooms were not open to the public.
Among the old sequence of rooms in the Residence, which Ludwig II used personally, were the so-called Reiche Zimmer (rich chambers) of Elector Karl Albrecht (1697-1745; from 1742 Emperor Karl VII). They served him occasionally for receptions but also in many of their decorative details as models for Linderhof and Herrenchiemsee. The so-called Hofgartenzimmer (chambers towards the court gardens) were decorated in the style of early classicism and also formed part of Ludwig’s ambience. He occupied one of the chambers during his time as crown prince and in 1867 had some of the rooms re-decorated for his bride, Duchess Sophie in Bayern.
The architect and photographer Otto Aufleger (1849-1920) published numerous works with art historical pictures. The works presented here in digitised form show the Reiche Zimmer and the chambers of the late eighteenth century from the Residence and belong to the earliest systematically illustrated works about these rooms, which at the time were not open to the public. The illustrations are particularly valuable, since the locations present themselves today, after the destructions of WWII, in a different form: the Reiche Zimmer were reconstructed in a simplified manner, whereas the visitor only encounters the Hofgartenzimmer in condensed form and in a different location – in particular in the so-called Puille-Kabinett (Puille-cabinet).
The Munich photographer Georg Böttger (1821-1901) presented in 1895 a copious photographic record of the interiors of the Residence. Similar to Aufleger, he limited himself to the oldest and art historically precious apartments – Antiquarium, Steinzimmer, Päpstliche Zimmer, Trierzimmer and Reiche Zimmer. The appearance of most of these rooms has changed considerable after the destructions of WWII and their subsequent reconstruction.