Castles and Constructions of Ludwig II


Ludwig II, whose father Maximilian II and grandfather Ludwig I had been important building patrons, continued this tradition, even though he – with the exception of the failed project of a festival theatre – commissioned buildings for his own use. Perhaps he was fascinated by the creative element of his buildings or by the power, which he might deploy here at least almost to its full extent. In particular, after the wars of 1866 and 1870/71, which he personally considered a catastrophe, he fell prey to a passion for building that soon showed symptoms of an addiction. A constant flow of new projects and requests for changes attest to his obsession to create and to be in charge, although the costs of his projects in progress soon exceeded his own financial means. These debts finally became responsible in 1886 to bring about the Königskatastrophe (royal catastrophe).

Today, King Ludwig II is mostly remembered for his creations Neuschwanstein, Linderhof and Herrenchiemsee. As a rule, it is forgotten that he spent but little time in these castles. Ludwig regularly occupied a whole series of castles, manors and alpine cabins. Among these, the castles he had inherited from his father, Schloss Berg at Starnberger See, then still called Würmsee, and Hohenschwangau, were particular favourites. He inhabited his apartment in the Munich Residence every year for the shortest possible time that still allowed him to fulfil the constitutionally fixed residential obligation, generally between December and May.

Neuschwanstein Castle

Neuschwanstein was the first great castle building project of King Ludwig II. During his time as crown prince, his father Maximilian II had acquired in 1832 the ruin of the manor Schwanstein and commissioned the painter Domenico Quaglio (1787-1837) to renovate it as "Schloss Hohenschwangau". Maximilian had paths and viewpoints laid out nearby to be able to enjoy the landscape. The ruins of Vorder- and Hinterhohenschwangau, located opposite Hohenschwangau, were often the destination of excursions undertaken by the family.

In 1867, after the defeat of Bavaria in the German War, Ludwig II decided to replace Vorder- and Hinterhohenschwangau with a castle for himself. As was the standard at the time, the "restoration of the old castle ruin" started in 1868 with the removal of the old ruins and the uppermost rock layers. The "new castle Hohenschwangau" – the name Neuschwanstein was only coined after Ludwig’s death – was created after plans by Eduard von Riedel (1813-1885), who was assisted in matters of visualisation and painterly detail by the set designer Christian Jank (1833-1888). Both had always to submit to Ludwig’s precise ideas and wishes.

In Neuschwanstein, Ludwig combined diverse strands of imagination in one building. On the one hand there was the Lohengrin saga, which his father had already immortalised in the frescoes of Schloss Hohenschwangau, where he had connected the "Schwanenritter" (swan knight) with the historical former lords of Schwangau into a group of themes. On the other hand, for Ludwig the operas of Richard Wagner were even more important, since he was a favourite of the king. In addition, there were elements from Wagner’s Tannhäuser including the minstrel contest on the Wartburg, envisaged ideal imagery from Moorish Spain and the conceit of a castle of the Holy Grail, which was strongly influenced by Wagner’s last opera Parsifal. Finally yet importantly, the illustrated works of the French architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc (1814-1879) had a major impact; Ludwig had personally visited the chateau Pierrefonds in 1867, which Viollet-le-Duc had reconstructed at the behest of Emperor Napoleon III.

As in the case of all others of the king’s enterprises, at Neuschwanstein the plans were being changed all the time and, therefore, completion was continuously delayed and the cost kept rising. In the meantime, the interior of the castle continued to develop. Even though at the beginning a building had been designed that would have been able to host a traditional court, at the end everything had become completely focused on the person of Ludwig alone. In 1873, the gateway was completed as the first section of the building and would serve the king for years as his apartment on its upper floor; the main building was only finished in 1880 as far as the structural work was concerned. In particular, the subsequent, technically sophisticated addition of the throne hall led to problems during which Ludwig fell out with his architect Riedel; he was replaced by Julius Hofmann (1840-1896).

Ludwig himself never saw his castle completed, even though he started to occupy at least his own rooms in 1884. After his death in 1886, work was continued at first; in 1892, after a simplified completion of the ladies’ bower and of the square tower, it was stopped. The central donjon with the castle chapel as well as numerous planned interiors were never executed.

Linderhof Palace

Of the buildings, which King Ludwig II commissioned, the royal villa Linderhof, today usually termed a castle or palace, is his most intimate edifice and the only one that he inhabited for any length of time.

The idyllic Graswang valley had already delighted Ludwig’s father, King Maximilian II. He bought the forester’s lodge near the "Linderhof" situated there and called either after the previous owners or after a linden tree that may still be found on the castle’s grounds. After it was expanded, the property served as a hunting lodge and as the destination of excursions. Ludwig, therefore, had known the estate since his childhood.

In 1869, Ludwig purchased the surrounding area in the valley; after the plans of the architect Georg von Dollmann (1830-1895) at first an annex to the royal lodge, plain on the exterior but splendid in its interiors, was erected in two building phases in the years up to 1872. It consisted of a wooden construction set upon a plastered basement. This extension, however, soon enough did no longer satisfy the king’s requirements, since only two years later he decided to expand the building even further. In 1874, therefore, the original royal lodge was carefully dismantled and transferred to another location in the Graswang valley. On the now liberated construction site, the original annex was complemented by an additional wing and by a central building part during the years until 1878 and a richly decorated stone façade was built to face the entire edifice. In 1885, King Ludwig commissioned the extension and redecoration of his bedroom, which remained incomplete, however, until after his death when it was finished in simplified form. The entire building was dedicated to a rather personal interpretation and celebration of life at the eighteenth-century French court.

Beyond the actual castle, the Graswang valley and the surrounding mountain region served as the focus of many further phantasies of the king. In this location, his memorial castle dedicated to the French King Louis XIV (r.1643-1715) was planned to rise, a project later undertaken under the name of Schloss Herrenchiemsee. A Byzantine palace was also meant to be constructed in this place as well as a theatre. The famous Venusgrotte (grotto of Venus) was actually realised and constituted a technical masterwork for the time. In addition, Ludwig II had two buildings, originally displayed at world fairs, brought here and assembled anew: the Maurische Kiosk (Morisco Kiosk) and the Marokkanische Haus (Moroccan House). Originally situated outside the castle’s grounds, the Hundinghütte (Valkyrie) and the Einsiedelei des Gurnemanz (hermitage of Gurnemanz, Parsifal) were erected in accordance with motifs taken from operas of Richard Wagner. Their reconstructions are today located near the palace. Although a final building, the Hubertuspavillon, was nearly complete at the time of the king’s death, it was demolished afterwards.

The Parks of Linderhof

Carl von Effner (1831-1884) designed the parks of Linderhof between 1872 and 1880. They count among the most splendid parks preserved since the late nineteenth century. Similar to Schloss Linderhof, which is far more beholden to the ideal of the upper middle-class villa than that of a palace, the gardens descend directly from the bourgeois garden culture of historicism. The rather more substantial spending power of the king permitted in each case a far more sumptuous design than would have been possible for most citizens.

In accordance with the principles of historicism, the gardens combine stylistic elements of the most diverse origins to a new entity. While parts of the gardens are based on the French palaces gardens of Marly le Roi, other elements refer to the grounds of the Spanish summer palace of La Granja and some parts of the sculptural programme and of the water works follow the example of Versailles. Added to these components were gardening elements taken from the Italian, French and finally English art of gardening.

Typically for the personality of Ludwig II is the enclosure of those areas of the garden situated immediately in front of the palace by high hedges. They served as "Gartenbilder" (garden images) that allowed the king to experience his own dream world without being distracted by the real landscape.

Herrenchiemsee New Palace

Although Ludwig II was a constitutional monarch, he nonetheless venerated the absolutist France of King Louis XIV (r. 1643-1715), whom he considered a direct ancestor by means of god parenthood. After all, in 1786 the French King Louis XVI (r. 1774-1792, executed 1793), a direct descendent of the sun king, had become godfather to the future Bavarian King Ludwig I, same as Ludwig I to Ludwig II at his baptism in 1845.

As the result of his enthusiasm for Louis XIV, but certainly also because of his disappointment over his own relatively small power, Ludwig II had commissioned his architect Georg von Dollmann back in 1868 with the secret project "Tmeicos Ettal", i.e. the construction of a memorial palace for Louis XIV. The anagram "Tmeicos Ettal", or sometimes "Meicost Ettal", represented the alleged device of the French king "L’État, c’est moi" – I am the state. Originally, only a small building in the Graswang valley near Linderhof was planned. It was supposed to include imitations of a few rooms from Versailles that, according to Ludwig II, contained the essence of its model. As pattern served mainly illustrations and descriptions, since the actual palace of Versailles had changed considerable since the days of the sun king. Ludwig II did not pay a visit to Versailles until 1874, when the planning stage for his own palace had already been nearly completed.

Up to 1873 Dollmann presented a total of thirteen projects for "Tmeicos Ettal", which in accordance with the king’s wishes developed ever more from a small memorial building into a complete re-creation of the palace of Versailles. Following the principles of historicism, rooms from Versailles – including some that had long disappeared from the actual palace, such as the legendary "Gesandtentreppe" (envoys’ stairs) – were supposed to be assembled behind an ideal façade and be complemented by newly created accommodation for King Ludwig. There was, however, no space for such a construction in the rather narrow Graswang valley.

In 1873, citizens drew the attention of King Ludwig II to the Herreninsel on the Chiemsee – for centuries the site of one of the oldest monasteries in Bavaria – the rich tree population of which was supposed to be cut down. The king spontaneously bought the island and appointed it as the location of his Versailles project. In 1878, the foundation stone was laid. Up to the year 1881, the structure of the main wing had been completed as well as the re-creations of Louis XIV’s apartments. After Ludwig II and Dollmann had had a disagreement, Julius Hofmann took over the site management on the Herreninsel in 1884 and continued the construction until the king’s death.

Differently to what happened at Neuschwanstein or at Linderhof, construction was not resumed after 1886 and a lateral wing that had already been structurally completed was demolished in 1907. Only parts of the grounds, designed by Carl von Effner were continued up to 1890 in a rather simplified manner. The castle has been open to visitors since August 1886.

The Neue Schloss Herrenchiemsee was the most expensive building commissioned by Ludwig II, while the Paradeschlafzimmer (main bedroom) is considered the most expensive room of the nineteenth century as a whole. For the king who had ordered to forego all references to his kingdom of Bavaria inside the palace, the building was mainly envisaged as a stage set inside which he could seek refuge in the world of absolutism.

The Gardens of Herrenchiemsee

The royal director of palace gardens, Carl von Effner, designed the gardens of Schloss Herrenchiemsee in 1875. Similar to the palace, they are no direct copy of the grounds laid out by the legendary French garden artist André Le Nôtre (1613-1700) in Versailles. Rather, Effner combined single elements of the gardens at Versailles with more widespread neo-Baroque elements and added fountains, which were designed in part in accordance with models in Versailles, in part with the Spanish palace at La Granja.

An important factor was, thereby, the idea of the garden as background screen, not so much laid for walks in the grounds, than for enjoyment from the windows of the staterooms of the castle. Therefore, the main part of the parks was laid out axially to the two main façades of the palace.

Typical for a garden set out for Ludwigs II was the complete enclosure of the grounds against the surrounding landscape. Hedges and trees intentionally prevented the view towards the Chiemsee and the Alpine foothills and contributed to the creation of a perfect illusion based on the ideal palace of King Louis XIV that Ludwig II desired. After the death of King Ludwig II in 1886, Effner’s successor Jakob Möhl (1846-1916) completed the castle grounds in a simplified form, reducing the size of the gardens and reforesting part of the terrain.

Hohenschwangau Castle

During the high and late Middle Ages, the lords of Schwangau had four castles constructed for themselves in the southern Allgäu region: Vorder- and Hinterschwangau, Schwanstein and Frauenstein. Shortly before their family became extinct, the family sold their property in 1535 to a patrician family from Augsburg. After several changes in ownership, the castle of Schwanstein had turned into a ruin by the nineteenth century.

In 1820, the future King Maximilian II discovered the ruin of Schwanstein during a walking tour and immediately fell in love with the building’s picturesque position. After tough negotiations, he bought the estate and commissioned the Munich artist Domenico Quaglio (1787-1837), jointly with the architect Georg Friedrich Ziebland (1800-1873), to reconstruct and enlarge the Schwanstein as a romantic Gesamtkunstwerk. After Quaglio’s death, who had collapsed at the building site, Joseph Daniel Ohlmüller (1791-1839) completed the building that from now on was called Hohenschwangau. The interiors were decorated with a rich cycle of frescoes designed by the artist Moritz von Schwind (1804-1871). They depict, apart from historical events, legendary figures such as the knight Lohengrin, whose story was transferred to the Schwangau because of his heraldic animal, the swan. In the years up to 1855 additional expansions to the castle were created, in particular to find accommodation for the large royal household of Maximilian when he succeeded to the throne in 1848. Around the building, a large park was laid out in accordance with the plans of Quaglio, Carl August Sckell (1793-1840) and Peter Joseph Lennés (1789-1866).

From his earliest childhood onwards, King Ludwig II spent parts of summer at Hohenschwangau, the frescoes and position of which deeply impressed and influenced him. After his father’s death in 1864, he took over the royal apartments in the castle. Only the bedroom was refurbished with plants, with a running waterfall and with an artificially starlit sky. Even though he commissioned several palace buildings himself, Hohenschwangau and Schloss Berg are the residences in which Ludwig spent most of his time. He did his best, however, to avoid encounters with his mother, Queen Marie (1825-1889), who also occupied Hohenschwangau during the summer months. To replace the ruins of Vorder- and Hinterhohenschwangau, situated opposite the castle, Ludwig started from 1869 with the construction of the "Neue Burg Hohenschwangau". It almost seems as if he wished to oppose his father’s building by his own architectural vision.

At Schloss Hohenschwangau Ludwig signed the Kaiserbrief (imperial letter) on 30 November 1870 by means of which he offered the German imperial crown to the future Emperor Wilhelm I. (1797-1888).

After the death of Ludwig II in 1886, the castle remained the summer accommodation of the queen mother who was going to die here in 1889. Prince Regent Luitpold also frequently occupied Hohenschwangau. Even after the abolishment of monarchy in 1918, the castle remained Wittelsbach property. It is open to the public and may be visited.

Berg Castle

In 1676, the Bavarian Elector Ferdinand Maria (1636-1679) purchased the die Hofmark Berg (i.e. originally a manor with economic and legal privileges) on the Würmsee (today, Starnberger See). In conjunction with a small palace built in 1640 it was the location of numerous lacustrine and hunting events organised for the Wittelsbachs.

During the nineteenth century, the castle was used but little at first. Although the first two kings, Maximilian I Joseph (1756-1825) and Ludwig I, commissioned new interiors for the building and ordered the redesign of the park, they spent here but little time. King Maximilian II finally made Berg one of his favourite summer residences. He enlarged the castle’s grounds and commissioned Eduard von Riedel in 1849-1851 to rebuild the castle in neo-gothic style. During this campaign, crenellations were added as well as four corner towers. Thereby, a network of Wittelsbach residences rose around Starnberger See, including the Roseninsel and Schloss Possenhofen, the abode of the dukes in Bavaria. Many members of the nobility and of the wealthy bourgeoisie followed suit and settled in this area.

Ludwig II, who since his childhood had spent much time at Schloss Berg during the summer months, inherited the castle at the death of his father in 1864. Until his own death, Berg remained a fixture in his life; he spent here several weeks each year. Ludwig made only a few changes to the building, for example, he commissioned the addition of a fifth tower and of a small chapel. Nonetheless, he furbished his sober apartment on the second floor (his father’s former lodgings) with numerous works of art as well as with keepsakes. The new tower was called by Ludwig after Wagner’s operatic character "Isolde", matching the royal steamship baptised "Tristan" by the king.

In June 1886, the government together with Prince Regent Luitpold chose Schloss Berg as accommodation of the king who had been declared mentally ill. On 13 June 1886, Ludwig II and his physician died here.

By 1 August 1886, Schloss Berg as well as the other "Königsschlösser" (royal castles) of Ludwig were opened to the public. Between 1896 and 1900, a votive chapel was erected on the grounds above the place of death to commemorate King Ludwig II. In 1945, the castle was heavily damaged by American soldiers billeted therein Therefore the building was restored in restrained form in 1949-1951 and the castle towers removed.
Today, Schloss Berg serves the head of the house of Wittelsbach as summer residence and is, therefore, not open to visitors.

Place of Death

After his legal incapacitation on 11 June 1886, the so-called "Fangkommission" (catch commission) under direction of Bernhard von Gudden (1824-1886) brought King Ludwig II to Schloss Berg, which had been chosen as the future place of abode for the monarch. Having arrived here on 12 June around noon, the following day Ludwig behaved far more placidly and cooperatively than Gudden and the other physicians had expected. Therefore, on the evening of 13 June (Pentecost), Gudden decided that no other nursing staff would be necessary for the evening walk with the king around 18:30.

It is not clear what happened on the occasion. It is only known that Ludwig and Gudden did not come back from their stroll. Search parties were quickly sent out; they found the corpses of the two men at around 22:30. All resuscitation attempts, which were carried out against any reasonable expectations, remained without success. By midnight Franz Carl Müller (1860-1913), Gudden’s assistent, pronounced the death of King Ludwig II at the stroke of the clock of the church at Starnberg.

In 1886/1887 Ludwig’s mother, Queen Marie, commissioned a neo-Gothic lantern of the dead to be erected near the lake to commemorate her son. The column with the lantern approximately marks the place, where Gudden and the King probably entered the water. A simple wooden cross that lies in the water identifies the place where the corpse was found in the shallow water of the waterfront. In 1919, the lying cross was replaced by one that rises out of the waters. Since then, it has been replaced several times; the last time in 1961.

When the votive chapel was constructed between 1896 and 1900, the lantern of the dead was incorporated into the ensemble.

Votive Chapel

On 13 June 1896 – exactly ten years after the royal catastrophe of 1886 – Prince Regent Luitpold laid the foundation stone for a memorial church above the scene of the accident. The elongated neo-Romanesque sacred space, today usually termed a votive chapel, was built in accordance with the plans of Julius Hofmann (1840-1896). After his death, his son Rudolf Hofmann (1867-1951), who finally took on the detailed design of the interior, completed the building. The chapel is richly decorated with frescoes by the artist August Spieß (1841-1923). On 13 June 1900, the provost of Saint Cajetan in Munich consecrated the votive chapel.

The building, designed by the last construction manager of the castles of Ludwig II and decorated by one of the artists he had employed during his lifetime, still corresponds to the taste of the late king in its décor. The octagonal shape of the central building is reminiscent of Ludwig’s notion of the temple of the redeeming Holy Grail, similar to what he had recognised in the original church of the monastery at Ettal. The frescoes of the room connect dynastic with religious motifs. Next to a depiction of Saint Mary as Patrona Bavariae are coats of arms and patron saints of the then eight Bavarian dioceses, depictions of Bavarian court and monastic saints, of the king’s namesake as well as, in the main apse, of Christ as Pantocrator. Funding was provided from the estate of King Otto von Bayern who was unfit for government.

Roseninsel (Rose Island)

King Maximilian II had discovered the idyllic landscape around Lake Starnberg during his time as crown prince. To create a generous summer residence for himself, he bought among other things the Wörth Island situated in front of the western shore of the lake near Feldafing in 1850. The architect Franz Jakob Kreuter (1813-1899) constructed here in the years up to 1853 an original Casino that combined stylistic elements of alpine buildings with Pompeian frescoes. The gardening design of the island in the centre of which rests the eponymous circular flowerbed with rare types of roses, Kreuter developed after a model by the important garden artist Peter Joseph Lennés (1789-1866).

During the summer months, the royal family, including Crown Prince Ludwig, frequently used to cross over to the Roseninsel from nearby Schloss Berg.

After his father’s death, King Ludwig II acquired in 1865 both the island and the Casino from the family estate to use them as his own private property. During the early years of his reign, the Roseninsel was an important refuge for the king who enjoyed spending time there on his own. Occasionally, however, he received guests, for example Richard Wagner (1813-1883), his cousins Elisabeth (1837-1898, "Sissi") and Sophie Charlotte in Bayern (1847-1897) as well as the Czarina Marija Alexandrowna (1824-1880) whom he revered.

In 1871, Ludwig II and the future Emperor Friedrich III (1831-1888) had an altercation during a dinner party held on the Roseninsel. As was the custom of the time, Ludwig had wished to bestow a Bavarian regiment on Friedrich; the honour was not received with enthusiasm. Friedrich’s alleged reply that he was not sure whether his portly figure would fit into the trim uniform of the cavalry, deeply mortified Ludwig. He understood the gesture of the crown prince as the assignment of a new, subordinate role for Bavaria. Ludwig II was so angry that he did not turn up for the evening banquet.

From the 1870s, Ludwig ceased to visit the Roseninsel on a regular basis. Nonetheless, during the summer months his cousin, Empress Elisabeth von Österreich, frequently crossed over to the island from her hotel in Feldafing. By then, Ludwig and Elisabeth met but rarely on the Roseninsel.

For a long time the Roseninsel remained the property of the Wittelsbach family, even though it was barely looked after from c.1912. In 1970, the Freistaat Bayern purchased the island; since 1997, it has pursued the reconstruction of the Casino and of the gardens. The island first opened to visitors in 2003.

Ludwig’s Artists

In the series presented here, the volumes with photographs of works of art by Julius Hofmann and Philipp Perron are an exception. While the first is possibly some kind of "memorial volume" for the architect who had died in the month of August in the year of publication, the latter served probably as an advertisement for the still flourishing workshop of the sculptor Perron.

After the king’s death, Julius Hofmann (1840-1896), Ludwig’s last court architect, continued to be responsible for the dramatically simplified completion of the ongoing building work at Linderhof and Neuschwanstein. A native from Triest, he had been collaborating with his father from 1858 for Archduke Maximilian (1832-1867), the future emperor of Mexico. He worked on the decoration of Schloss Miramare, before accompanying Maximilian as court architect to Amerika in 1864. He returned to Europe shortly before the execution of the emperor and caught the eye of Georg von Dollmann, then court architect of Ludwig II, as an employee of the Zettler'sche Hofglasanstalt. Dollmann hired Hofmann and made him director of interior decoration of Schloss Neuschwanstein. Hofmann later contributed to all of Ludwig’s palatial projects. When Dollmann fell out of favour with the king in 1884, Julius Hofmann was appointed as court architect.

Hofmann’s contemporaries regarded him above all as a congenial interior architect and expert for ornaments. His creations of interiors for Ludwig II, in particular the “kleine Appartement” (small apartment) in the Neue Schloss Herrenchiemsee, rank highly in the art history of historicism. His interventions in the exterior design of Schloss Neuschwanstein are no less remarkable. The present volume is dedicated to the ornamental wall design of the Palas (great hall) of Schloss Neuschwanstein, the almost overwhelming multiformity of which attests to Hofmann’s talent.

Julius Hofmann

Romanische Wandmalereien der Königl. bayer. Burg Neuschwanstein nach den Entwürfen von Julius Hofmann, kgl. Ober-Hofbaurat.
Vierzig Tafeln in Lichtdruck nach photographischen Originalaufnahmen [von Joseph Albert]

Leipzig, (1896)

Philipp Perron

Philipp Perron (1840-1907) hailed from Frankenthal in the Palatinate that was then still part of Bavaria. After an apprenticeship in Paris and at the Munich Akademie der Bildenden Künste he worked as a freelance sculptor. Among the creative artisans who contributed to the palaces of Ludwig II, Perron was one of the most important. With his workshop, in which he employed 20-30 artisans, he carried out a substantial part of the stonemason’s work and woodcarvings for Neuschwanstein, Linderhof and Herrenchiemsee. In doing so, Perron presented himself as a virtuoso artisan able to adjust without the least effort to the desired styles – even though in a decisively historical treatment, for example in the case of faces.

Even after Ludwig’s death in 1886 and after the final abandonment of construction at Neuschwanstein in 1892, Perron’s workshop remained very busy. The two illustrated works published in 1897 constitute, therefore, an advertisement for Perron.

Philipp Perron

Die figurale Plastik des königlichen Schlosses Herrenchiemsee.
Ausgeführt von Professor Ph[ilipp] Perron.
20 Tafeln. Photographie und Lichtdruck von Jos[eph] Albert

München, 1897

Philipp Perron

Die dekorative Ornamentik des königlichen Schlosses Herrenchiemsee.
Ausgeführt von Professor Ph[ilipp] Perron.
60 Tafeln. Photographie und Lichtdruck von Jos[eph] Albert

München, 1897

The Nibelungengang at the Residence

Among the first modifications commissioned by the new King Ludwig II at his apartment on the second floor of the north-western corner pavilion of the Königsbau (royal building) in the Residence, was the transformation of the hallway running in parallel to the Residenzstraße – the "Theatiner-Neu" (new Theatine corridor) – in 1864. At the expense of the then existing lodgings, the corridor was enlarged and decorated with 30 frescoes by the artist Michael Echter (1812-1879). These frescoes depicted scenes from the tetralogy "Der Ring des Nibelungen" (the Ring of the Nibelung) by Richard Wagner, the text of which had been available since 1853, even though the musical setting was not completed until 1879. By means of the frescoes in this hall, from now on called "Nibelungengang" (Nibelung corridor), young Ludwig committed himself heavily to Wagner’s Gesamtkunstwerk, which may perhaps not have come to its completion without the king’s patronage.

The fresco cycle – the first known substantial artistic engagement with Wagner’s poetry – belongs to Ludwig’s few private creations that were widely disseminated during the king’s lifetime. In 1876, the publishing house of the photographer Joseph Albert in Munich published an album with postcard-size reproduction of the frescoes and with explanations by Hyazinth Holland.

The Nibelungengang as well as the apartment of King Ludwig II were destroyed during WWII and not reconstructed.

Joseph Albert [Hrsg.]

Der Ring des Nibelungen. (Tafeln)
Photographien nach den im Allerhöchsten Auftrage seiner Majestät König Ludwig II. von Bayern in der Residenz zu München ausgeführten Fresco-Gemälden von Professor M[ichael] Echter. Mit erläuterndem Text von H[yazinth] Holland

München, [1876]

Joseph Albert [Hrsg.]

Der Ring des Nibelungen. (Erläuterungen)
Photographien nach den im Allerhöchsten Auftrage seiner Majestät König Ludwig II. von Bayern in der Residenz zu München ausgeführten Fresco-Gemälden von Professor M[ichael] Echter. Mit erläuterndem Text von H[yazinth] Holland

München, [1876]

Early Descriptions of Ludwig’s Artistic Aspirations

Even though the disdain of historicism started to become dominant in style criticism only sometime after the death of Ludwig II, very few authors of the nineteenth century attempted to analyse the king’s artistic aspirations within its wider context.

Probably the first large publication dealing with King Ludwig’s castles were the opulent Königsphantasien (royal phantasies) that came out in 1888-1890 in 19 instalments. The author of the work, Arthur Mennell (really Otto Arthur Männell), was born in Weißenfels in 1855. Without a proper education, he worked with moderate success as writer of trashy novels and sensational author. The Königsphantasien may well be his own most important publication success, which is however based mainly on Joseph Albert’s (1825-1886) photos, most of which were here published for the first time in print. Under Ludwig II, Albert had the sole privilege to produce photos of the interiors of the castles, which up to the "Königskatastrophe" in 1886 were published only in exceptional cases.

Rather noticeable, even for the late nineteenth century is the almost unbearable pathos of the work that probably did already attract the negative attention of contemporaries. After the Königsphantasien, Mennell tried his hand at a further large work in instalments on Otto von Bismarck (1815-1898), entitled Bismarck-Denkmal für das Deutsche Volk (1895ff, Bismarck Memorial for the German People). Soon his publisher replaced him though with another author, Bruno Garlepp (1845-1916). He disappeared from circulation in 1899, after having played an inglorious role as witness in a paparazzi trial. Two photographers had broken into Schloss Friedrichsruh after Bismarck’s death and had made a photo of the dead prince. Mennell was disappointed that they had not wished to include him in the sale and, therefore, had reported them to the police.

Arthur Mennell (Männell)
Joseph Albert
Peter Kraemer

Die Königsphantasien. Eine Wanderung zu den Schlössern König Ludwigs II. von Bayern.
Mit der erstmaligen privilegierten Abbildung der innern Schloßräume in Buchform: Naturgetreu nach den photographischen Aufnahmen Josef Albert's. In Arrangements von Peter Kraemer in München.

Leipzig, 1888.

Luise von Kobell

Luise von Kobell (1828-1901) was the wife of August von Eisenhart (1826-1905), who in 1869 to 1876 had been secretary of the cabinet of King Ludwig. During this period, she belonged to the wider entourage of the king and gained many insights into the society at the court. In her later years, she published short stories, biographical sketches and art historical essays under her maiden name. Apart from her memories "Unter den ersten vier Königen Bayerns" (Under the First Four Bavarian Kings; 1894), in particular her book about the art and the palaces of Ludwig II, which is presented here, achieved renown.

Similar to Mennell’s work, Kobell’s monograph draws heavily on the interior photographs by Joseph Albert. She complements them, however, with her own, largely knowledgeable considerations. The structure of the work is equally interesting, for after an introduction the single palaces are discussed in strict division: Linderhof, Herrenchiemsee, Hohenschwangau, Neuschwanstein and Berg. The reason for this rigid scheme lies in the fact that the single sections were also printed separately and were distributed under the title of "Monographien der bayerischen Königsschlösser" (Monographs of Bavarian Royal Palaces).

Luise von Kobell

König Ludwig II. von Bayern und die Kunst

München, 1898

Photographic Prints of the Royal Palaces

As no other Bavarian monarch before him, the publicity-shy Ludwig used the new medium of photography for his own purposes. Apart from numerous portraits, which disseminated his image everywhere in Bavaria, he also used it to document systematically the construction and decoration of his palaces. Ludwig solely commissioned the Munich photographer Joseph Albert (1825-1886) and his atelier to produce such records. Albert, who had already been court photographer under Ludwig’s father, Maximilian II, made important contributions to the reproduction technology of those days (for example by means of his invention of the so-called "Albertotypie" and of the collotype). In addition, he ran a successful publishing house, in which he used for the first time the technique of photography to reproduce works of art.

As long as Ludwig was alive, the pictures taken at his palaces – in particular those of the interiors – were rarely destined for dissemination. They served the king above all as aide-mémoire and planning aid for his building projects. This practice changed quickly, when after Ludwig II’s death his castles Neuschwanstein, Linderhof, Herrenchiemsee and Berg were opened to the public. The photos from the popular buildings became now a lucrative source of revenue. They were either used as illustrations in books, guides or journals or sold as single prints. Moreover, there was usually the possibility to purchase illustrated books containing a selection of such images.

The Atelier Albert was particularly interested in the collaboration with authors. Richly illustrated works such as the Königsphantasien (1888) or König Ludwig II. und die Kunst (King Ludwig II and the Arts, 1898) were created as well as art historical picture books that served as models or for advertising diverse artists. The present selection of pictures taken at Schloss Linderhof took second place. These were photos taken during the period around 1880, i.e. when King Ludwig was still alive. It is no longer possible to trace their provenance.

Joseph Albert

[Album von Linderhof]

[München], s.a. [ca. 1880]

After Ludwig’s death, the Munich company of the Albert family used the substantial stock of interior and detail photographs from the Wittelsbach castles, produced mostly for the king, to illustrate on the one hand diverse publications, on the other to produce their own picture books. The present volume combines numerous detail shots from the Munich Residence as well as from the palaces of Herrenchiemsee, Linderhof and Neuschwanstein and was mainly intended as a model book for artisans and artists.

Joseph Albert
Leopold Gmelin

Details, Wanddekorationen, Möbel, Geräthe etc. aus den Königlich Bayerischen Schlössern Neuschwanstein, Linderhof und Herren-Chiemsee sowie aus der Königlichen Residenz in München
Aufgenommen und herausgegeben von Jos[eph] Albert. Gesichtet und mit einleitendem Text versehen von L[eopold] Gmelin

München, [1891]

Franz Seraph Hanfstaengl

When after Ludwig’s death his palaces were opened to the public, other photographers as well received the opportunity to record his buildings in photographic reproductions. Neuschwanstein, Linderhof and Herrenchiemsee as well as Berg or Hohenschwangau that continued to be used by the royal family soon belonged to the portfolio of most established photographers.

Franz Seraph Hanfstaengl (1804-1877) founded the Atelier Hanfstaengl in Munich, which offered particularly elaborate reproductions produced in carbon print technique, offered for sale in collective volumes such as the one presented here.

Collection Hanfstaengl München

Pigment-Drucke der kgl. Schlösser zu Neuschwanstein, Hohenschwangau

München, [ca. 1890]

Collection Hanfstaengl München

Pigment-Drucke der königl. Schlösser zu Chiemsee, Linderhof

München, [ca. 1890]

Bernhard Johannes

In 1873, Bernhard Johannes (1846-1899) founded a photographic studio in Partenkirchen, which Max Beckert (1860-1919) continued to run after Johannes had moved to Meran in 1883. The Bayerische Staatsbibliothek purchased the studio’s archives in 2003 and 2006, including five bound volumes with pictures taken at the castles of Ludwig II. They attest to the fact that even a few years after the king’s death these buildings had become part of the "standard repertoire" of pictures produced by photographic studios.

Bernhard Johannes

Bayerische Königsschlösser im Besitze weiland S.M. Ludwig's II.

München, [ca. 1890]

Bernhard Johannes

Bayerische Königsschlösser im Besitze weiland S.M. Ludwig's II.

München, [ca. 1890]

Bernhard Johannes

Bayerische Königsschlösser im Besitze weiland S.M. Ludwig's II.
Linderhof[, Königshaus am Schachen]

München, [ca. 1890]

Bernhard Johannes

Bayerische Königsschlösser im Besitze weiland S.M. Ludwig's II.

München, [ca. 1890]

Bernhard Johannes

Bayerische Königsschlösser im Besitze weiland S.M. Ludwig's II.
Berg, Hohenschwangau, Linderhof

München, [ca. 1890]

Official Palace Guides

Simple visitors’ guides to Ludwig’s palaces appeared probably to coincide with the opening of the royal castles of Neuschwanstein (officially still called "Neue [or royal] Burg Hohenschwangau"), Linderhof, Herrenchiemsee (and Berg) in August 1886. Editors and authors of these texts are unknown but it was probably the administration of the royal estate and, therefore, the ruling house of Wittelsbach to take the initiative. Similarly to the opening itself, the precise intention behind these publications is not entirely clear. Probably the texts were meant to provide the visitors – who likely ought to have experienced the palaces as places of art patronage – with information on the artists engaged in the building and decorative work of the castles. Guided tours as they are now ubiquitous to steer the masses of visitors did not exist at the time. It was possible to move around quite independently inside the buildings and to gain access to rooms that are now out of bounds to tourists for reasons of conservation.

Worthy of note are hints in the texts that attest to the fact that at the time there was no consensus on how to proceed with the continuation of the building work. For example the (never completed) donjon of Neuschwanstein is described as work in progress and the incomplete and planned building parts of Schloss Herrenchiemsee, where all construction work had stopped in 1885, are pictured as if their construction or rather completion was still envisaged.

The three publications of 1886 remained the only "official" guides until the end of the monarchy in 1918. For the Munich Residence such a publication came out during the Weimar Republic, after the complete building had become accessible to visitors. In accordance with the concept of art of a period that much disliked historicism, Ludwig’s interiors receive but little attention.

Führer durch die Königliche Burg Hohenschwangau

München, 1886

Führer durch das Königliche Schloss Linderhof

München, 1886

Das Königliche Schloss Herren-Chiemsee

München, 1886

Direktion der Museen und Kunstsammlungen des ehemaligen Kronguts [Hrsg.]

Kleiner Führer durch das Residenzmuseum in München

2. Auflage

München, 1920

Travel and Tourist Guides

With the death of King Ludwig II and with the opening of his buildings to the public there was a virtual flood of publications intended to provide the travelling public with useful information on the castles and about the associated tourist infrastructure. Apart from supplement brochures to the important travel guides of the time (for example for the guides to Munich and to the Bavarian Oberland edited by Theodor Trautwein [1833-1894]) appeared above all regionally produced special guides which appealed to diverse tastes, ranging from sober to romanticising.

Differently to the official guides dated to 1886, the data of which all too often fed into the latter, all of these publications were more or less richly illustrated. As illustrations were sometimes used drawings after photos or photographic prints. Still more frequent was the use of already existing plates such as those produced by companies as that of Joseph Albert. The possibility to separate a publication into different sections is also worthy of note. It was cleverly used by some authors. Luise von Kobell’s monograph of 1898 as well as that of Hans Steigenberger, dated to 1903, could be purchased in the form of the complete work as well as in single parts dedicated to each castle.

In addition, special publications appeared such as the description of the Votive Chapel dedicated in 1900 above the place of Ludwig’s death near Schloss Berg. The highly religious text was composed by the long-standing court chaplain Corbinian Ettmayr (1840-1904). A funerary oration that was bound with the copy at the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, is also presented in this context.

In conjunction with the German version, some of these publications were also translated into other languages – English in particular. As an example, the guidebook composed by Ludwig Sailer is presented here. Its English version experienced numerous editions.

Johann Nepomuk Zwickh

Herrenchiemsee, Neuschwanstein und Linderhof.
Die Lieblingsschlösser weiland Königs Ludwig II. nebst den Reiserouten dahin

Augsburg, 1886

Joseph Ludwig Craemer

Schloß Herrenwörth das bayerische Versailles in Wort und Bild.
Eine gedrängte Geschichte des Königsschlosses mit sehr genauem Führer, Abbildungen, Entwurf und Plänen des ganzen Schloßbaues
dann 17 Portraits nebst den Biographien von hervorragenden Männern aus der Umgebung König Ludwig II.

II. Auflage

München, 1887

Adolph Graf von Westarp

Die Königsschlösser Ludwig II.
Heft 2: Die Burg auf dem Schwanenstein

Berlin, 1887

Ludwig Sailer
J. R. Morell [Übers.]

The Art Monuments of His Late Majesty King Ludwig II. of Bavaria.
A Guide and Souvenir for Visitors to the Royal Palaces of Herrenchiemsee, Neuschwanstein, Linderhof, Hohenschwangau, Berg and the Hunting Seat at the Schachen

Third Enlarged Edition

Munich, 1887

Corbinian Ettmayer

Die Gedächtnis-Kapelle für König Ludwig II. und die Königs-Kapelle im Parke des Schlosses Berg

München, 1901

Josef Hecher

Gehalten am Grabe des Hochwürdigen, Hochwohlgebornen Herrn Dr. theol. Corbinian Ettmayr, Stadtpfarrer und Schulinspektor, Kgl. geistlicher Rat, Ehrenkanonikus bei St. Cajetan, Kreisscholarch für Oberbayern, Ritter hoher Orden
am 15. November 1904

München, 1904

Hans Steinberger

Die bayerischen Königsschlösser

Der Chiemsee und das Königsschloss Herrenchiemsee
Kaufbeuren, 1903

Hans Steinberger

Die bayerischen Königsschlösser

Illustrierter Führer durch die Burg Neuschwanstein
Kaufbeuren, 1903

Hans Steinberger

Die bayerischen Königsschlösser

Schloss Linderhof
Kaufbeuren, 1903

Hans Steinberger

Die bayerischen Königsschlösser

Illustrierter Führer durch das Schloß Hohenschwangau
Kaufbeuren, 1903

Hans Steinberger

Die bayerischen Königsschlösser

IIllustrierter Führer durch das königliche Schloss Berg am Starnbergersee
Prien am Chiemsee und München 1903

Ferdinand Bächle

Füssen, Hohenschwangau und Umgebung
Offizieller Führer

Vierte Auflage

München, (1908)

Max Koch von Berneck

König Ludwig II. von Bayern und Schloß Berg am Starnberger See. Eine Erinnerung an Schloß Berg

Berlin, Leipzig, Wien, 1913

Carl Ritter von Lama
Georg Roggenhofer
Hans Ernst Müller [Bearb.]

Führer durch Füssen, Hohenschwangau, Neuschwanstein, Linderhof, Reutte, Plansee und Umgegend.

12. Auflage
Neubearbeitet von H. E. Müller, Studiendirektor der Städt. Realschule Füssen

Füssen, 1929