The Landscape Guide


Belvedere Schwarzenberg Liechtenstein Schloss Hof Schönbrunn Mirabell

Important as the great church lands were, especially for the central parts of Germany, there was still something unexpected and therefore capricious and unstable about their aspect. In the history of garden art we come to a surprisingly important cross- track—a thing that often happens in Germany. If we direct our attention once more to the then capital of the empire, Vienna, we find that a really quiet process of evolution begins very late, and that is so for outside reasons. Long after the Thirty Years’ War was over, the oppression of the Turks kept back the development of gardening. The final conquest of the enemy came about with the last inroad in 1683, and then the court and nobles ventured once more to establish themselves before the gates of the city. This was done cautiously at first, but then with an impetuous desire for building, and a strong feeling for peace. Under the auspices of Leopold the Holy Roman Emperor came an ever-increasing prosperity.

Among the first who secured land in front of the glacis south of the town was Prince Eugen of Savoy, the conqueror of the Turks and a much-admired hero. He bought a property (the Belvedere) where the vine-clad hills rise steeply from the racecourse as early as 1693, and a little while after he found a neighbour there, his old adversary in councils of war, Count Fondi-Mansfeld, who had been before him, in that he had had a palace built for himself at the foot of the hill, by Fischer von Erlach. Later on the empress established a convent for the nuns of the Order of the Visitation, whose garden was on the other side of the hill (Fig. 482). 

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In all these gardens we have to deal with the type of a suburban villa, which means that they are somewhat limited in size. There could not be any park, and the view was necessarily over the city and its many towers. This explains the townish appearance of these places.

They are suitable for pomps and festivities, especially the Belvedere, as the prince’s estate is called. The garden divides into two chief parts: the upper one has a very large parterre in front of the house and its fountain, and a second much lower and simpler parterre, with a magnificent cascade (Fig. 483) falling into the middle of it, and on both sides a flight of very shallow steps (Fig. 485). 

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Round this parterre there runs a narrow terrace at the level of the upper entrance to the castle, and the whole place is entirely without shade, with tall hedges and Hermæ against the wall, The entire breadth is closed in by the castle, one of the lordliest of pleasure places, for which this high part of the garden must be regarded as a gigantic open dining-hall. The prince never lived here, and the great entrance-gates (Fig. 484) were only thrown open for festival occasions.
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 Hildebrand the architect built the dwelling-house for the family by the lower road, cleverly adapting the slanting lines to the shape of the garden ground: this also took the whole breadth, but was laid out in a simpler, homelier fashion. After the parterre with its fountains there come boskets, four shady places with hedges, and lawns in the middle.

The two pairs are separated by imposing basins and fountain groups. An avenue of chest- nuts leads along the supporting wall to the upper garden, whence there rushes out a second powerful cascade decorated with statues. At the sides the two gardens are connected with grand straight steps, and groups of children as ornaments (Fig. 485). 

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Thus the upper and lower gardens are, so to speak, interwoven, with a most harmonious result.

The pressing problem of how to pass from the showiness of publicity to the comfort of privacy, from sunshine to shade, is admirably solved, If a spectator of to-day is worried by the want of shade in the higher part, he must bear in mind this fundamental requirement. There are little bits of garden attached to the large rectangular part, which skilfully and intelligently reconcile the want of regularity in this estate. Below on the right there is the charming orangery near the dwelling-house, with its arched trellis and attractive pavilions on the second terrace (Fig. 486). 

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And by the upper villa there is the kitchen-garden, unobserved at the side of the grand approach for carriages but reached from the garden side, and there is also the interesting menagerie. The idea of a concentric arrangement was adopted from Versailles, but in this place it is all on a smaller scale and more consistently worked out. Instead of finding a small casino in the centre as at Versailles, the spectator stands in front of an iron grating, whence little fan-shaped parterres spread out towards the animals’ winter quarters. In 1731, when the prince was still living, Salomon Kleiner published some very fine engravings of views of the garden, and in the peculiar title of the work paid a personal tribute to the warrior-hero, calling it “ The Wonderful Home of the Incomparable Hero of our Time in Wars and Victories ,; or the actual Presentation and Copy of Garden, Court, and Pleasure Buildings, belonging to his most Serene Highness, Prince Eugenius Franciscus, Duke of Savoy, etc.” After the death of the prince in ,1736, the Belvedere passed into the hands of the imperial family. Both before and after, the garden witnessed those brilliant fêtes for which it was intended: in 1700 there was a masked fête on 17 April, such as Vienna had never yet seen; and to accommodate six thousand dancers a great dining-hall was built out in the garden, covered over the top with 15,000 ells of linen; on the walls and roof there was painted a berceau of gigantic size, ornamented with flowers and festopns. The eighteenth century had still to learn how to keep a great fête!