The Landscape Guide

Belvedere Schwarzenberg Liechtenstein Schloss Hof Schönbrunn Mirabell

The neighbouring estate to the Belvedere, laid out by Count Fondi-Mansfeld in 1694, passed into the possession of the Schwarzenberg family in 1715, and they completed both house and garden. A similar but somewhat simpler problem was presented here The garden had only to consider, in the way of buildings, the castle below, whence it climbed upward in terraces from the fine parterre, growing ever denser and more shady with groves. Its beauty lay in the well-marked middle axis of water: this formed two cascades with many
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sculptured figures at the dividing walls, and ended with a great reflecting pond, that occupied nearly all the space there was (Fig. 487).
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Just as the Belvedere supplied the town with a central point for a garden quarter in the south, the house built by the wealthy Adam von Liechtenstein in the north made with its splendid gardens a focussing point (Fig. 488) for other grounds round about the Alserbach. 
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The beautiful Belvedere with its open pillared hall, cutting off the Liechtenstein garden on the river side, and giving a grand view of Kahienberg, has been absorbed, view and all, into the town.

If we turn over the engravings by Delsenbach and Kleiner, which keep alive for us these Viennese gardens that belong to the first half of the eighteenth century, we are necessarily struck by their formal, prescribed type. The canal plays no part here, but instead many cascades are found in the strictly marked middle axis, conditioned by terraces which are everywhere supreme. The boskets are simpler than those a French garden requires. All these peculiarities show that at Vienna the prevailing influence was not French, but more and more Italian, although there are many French details worked into an Italian background. This state of things suited the political situation—not only the violent animosity towards the French court, but also the long alliance with Italy, so sympathetic to the main interests of court life at Vienna. Under Maria Theresa all literature and art took their colour from Italy.

The greatest architects of the period, Hildebrand, and Fischer von Erlach, who gave a new character to Vienna in the early decades of the eighteenth century, were full of Italian ideas. It is true that Prince Eugen had employed Girard, the French gardener at the Bavarian court, to lay out the grounds of the Belvedere, but it is noteworthy how the genius loci constrained this artist to work in an Italian style. One has only to compare his work at Nymphenburg with the Belvedere to realise the facts. In both, the water is the main feature of the design, yet what different pictures we get! In one there is the French canal garden, in the other, Italian terraces. Even the choice of ground shows the effect of the different styles.

All the gardens hitherto treated lie almost in the precincts of a town, and the absence of large parks may be put down to want of space, but one has only to look outside Vienna to discover the same thing. In the estuary between the March and the Danube stands the Schloss Hof (Fig. 489). This Prince Eugen inherited at the beginning of the century, and he made a garden there. Later it became an imperial property, and in the years 1758—60 Canaletto painted his fine pictures here, at the bidding of the Empress Maria Theresa. This garden, whose extension was really unlimited, was governed by the same spirit we have met with in the towns, Six terraces ascend to the palace, some wide, some narrow, and there are parterres on three sides of it (Fig. 490).

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 We reach the actual ornamental garden by three steps, and a terrace projects from it enclosed by a balustrade, and forming three outstanding parts. Below there is a grotto in the middle, cut off by a wrought-iron gate. A fine flight of steps leads up to the next narrow terrace and to another parterre which has thick arbours of lattice at the side, and pavilions roofed with copper. There is a cascade in the middle, falling over a supporting wall which is well made architecturally. A simpler cascade plunges down from the fifth to the sixth terrace, with shrubberies to walk in at the sides. On the highest and lowest terraces there is a large fountain with groups of figures. The River March, which flows past the garden, brings this region to an end in the valley below. The peculiar southern character of this garden was kept up by the use of evergreen hedges of juniper. French influence is seen in the great number of parterres, which are to be found on almost every terrace, but otherwise the Italian style is prominent. In the Austrian gardens of this date we can see a happy mixture of the two.