The Landscape Guide

 Leipzig Zwinger Japanese Palace (Dresden) Great Garden Gross-Sedlitz Pillnitz Marcolini Falkenlust Schwetzingen Charlottenburg Mon Bijou Sans-Souci  St. Georgen Hermitage 


The gardens of Middle Germany were far more affected by the growing movement, and especially in the kingdom of Saxony. From an early date there had been a fine show here; for even in Renaissance days it had not been only the princes and the rich nobles who kept gardens well tended, but the towns had played an active part as well. And now Leipzig, which was wealthy, thanks to its central position for trade, had as citizens men who ventured in their self-confidence to live their lives on an equal footing with the great lords, even in a century when the power of court and nobles seemed overwhelming. The town gardens of Leipzig in the eighteenth century enjoyed an international reputation. Two brothers named Bose laid out gardens of marvellous beauty. 

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The place belonging to the elder, Caspar Bose (Fig. 497), was at the Grimma gate, and not only did it excite the observation of Italy, but (we are told) the Pope inquired into the nature of its arrangements. The most interesting part is the site of the sunk orange-parterre, with radiating beds in a great semicircle, in the middle of which orange-trees were planted.

The ground that shuts off the orangery in the middle axis of the villa rises in the form of an amphitheatre; and fountains and statues enliven the scene. At the top there are flower and tree-gardens, grottoes and more fountains. We see here the Renaissance ideas firmly maintained in the town garden, in spite of all the ornament in particular parts; and this is especially noticeable in the immediate connection of use with pleasure. Moreover the orange-parterre recalls the arrangement of botanic gardens, which, ever since the one at Padua was founded, have been apt to show the trapezium shape in the beds.

The creator of this place was the architect and copper-engraver David Schatz, who also laid out the next garden we speak of, which is peculiarly interesting for having attracted and delighted the eyes of Goethe when he was a young student. He writes to his sister in December 1765 : “ The gardens are so beautiful, I have never seen anything like them in my life. I may send you a view some time of the entrance to Apel’s garden. It is glorious; the first time I saw it, I thought I was in the Elysian Fields.” And Goethe was right, for it far excelled the ordinary town garden in size as well as arrangement. True, the idea of the parterre, like an amphitheatre, was also present in the Bose garden; but here there were fan-shaped avenues stretching out behind, and coming to an end in a great circumference, richly stored with statues and with all sorts of thickets. 

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Although the picture (Fig. 498) does not do it justice, it is evident if one looks at this garden that it was meant for great fêtes as at a court. King Augustus the Strong was a welcome guest, and the older writers assert that he had a close relationship with the rich merchant’s wife. One fête on the great canal at the side, the so-called Fish-sticking, for which Apel engaged fishermen from Naples, was celebrated here for the first time in 1714 in the presence of the king, and has been kept up till the present day as a people’s festival.

The garden must have been grand at that time, to please the ruler of a court recognized as the most brilliant in Germany. Augustus the Strong liked to think he had about him a kind of copy of the court of Versailles, and his own love of building in no way fell behind that of the French king. In his own country he found garden art in a flourishing condition, and water-castles in particular are still more numerous in Saxony than in any other German territory. The greatest number, if not actually made in the seventeenth century, were altered in the proper style, and a garden suited to the castle was laid out according to the fashion of the period. The character of the Renaissance is shown markedly in the way that canals are turned into ponds or moats. But in the eighteenth century also they knew how to suit their gardens to water-castles of this kind. We may compare the plans of old and new lake-houses, or still better, the form given by Augustus to the old water-castle of his ancestors, the Moritzburg at Dresden. This house was originally on a tongue of land in a pond. The king had it connected with the bank by means of a bridge and a dam, widening the pond on one side so that the castle was on a little island, much in the same way as at Chenonceaux. Outside the flower-garden, which encircled the high-lying island castle as a second terrace, there was a great semicircular region beside the bank, in the middle of a network of forest paths in straight lines, which cut the woody district into regular divisions.

The French feeling for lines and wide spaces came into Saxony with Augustus; and first and foremost in his mind was the thought of building a new castle as his residence. According to the plans made by his architect Poppelmann, it ought to have been one of the grandest of the kind, The area can only be computed now by the original orangery, which, because of its enclosed situation, was named Zwinger (cage) (Fig. 499). 

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It was characteristic of the time that they should have begun with the orangery; and only when one considers the Zwinger as that can one understand the plan of the building. In the seventeenth century orangeries were made in more and more lordly fashion. People specially liked to make use of them in summer, when the trees were standing in the garden, as comfortable cool rooms for guests; and later on they mostly connected a grand dining- hall with the conservatories where the trees were kept, and made greenhouses in a semi- circle on both sides, so that they could be approached that way, and fêtes could be held there in the winter as well. A good example is seen in the end orangery at Castle Gaibach ( Fig. 472), where the semicircular greenhouses have beyond them semicircular berceaux.

In the decoration of these buildings they felt that they could give free play to their fancy. Before now Salomon de Caus in his plan for the first stone orange-houses at Heidelberg hung his pillars with flowers and foliage. Taken all in all, we may say that in the Dresden Zwinger we find the plan most highly developed. The design shows a repeat of the semicircular nursery galleries, widened on the sides by straight wings. Thus an enormous garden court is shut in by corridors, which are interrupted by four corresponding monumental gate-pavilions (Fig. 499, Plan A, R, K, L). In the four corners fête-rooms were built, these also in accordance with the ground-plan, unsurpassable in size and splendour: a great dining-hall with an ante-chamber (F), a theatre also with an ante-chamber (E), a grotto-room (N), and a nymphæum with a bath-room (M, Q) filled out these corners. The architect, to judge by his plan, had intended the whole court to be treated as a garden parterre, with basins in the middle and water-devices at the sides. It is clear from the ornamentation of the south side as it then was, i.e. fountains and statues, that a plan for a gigantic nymphæum was hovering in his thoughts. In the summer this parterre was further decorated with the treasures from the greenhouses. But as a real nymphæum such as they had in the Renaissance days there was made a small court for a bathing-room—a place lying deep and cool, with alcoves fitted out with fountains, and statues between its pillars. Opposite this room a cascade fell over some steps between the statues into a semicircular basin. The middle was occupied by a large tank and fountain, and even in its neglected state at the present day it makes a fine picture (Fig. 500). 

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When the plans for the castle were more and more advanced, the galleries also were made use of for fêtes. The orangery was at a greater distance, and the garden court was used also as a place for show processions, tournaments, and the like.

While the king was busying himself with these far-reaching building plans, he spurred on his nobles to other extravagant works. They built away cheerfully, and the more it cost the better, for they knew the king would be delighted to buy their estates at a high price and give them to one or other of his mistresses. 

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The Dutch, or Japanese Palace (Fig. 501), so called because of its famous porcelain collections, was built by the minister, Count von Flemming, apparently with the idea that, if the king’s buildings were completed, there should be a fine garden scheme leading from the royal castle to the Elbe, and on to his own grounds, which lay upon its banks. In 1717 the king bought the place, and began by laying out the parterre along the Elbe in gently sloping terraces.

Later on the garden was enlarged at the side of the palace, and behind the great semicircle of the fortification walls, which served as point of view for the parterre, there was a great canal with ornamental waters, and also pretty boskets, a theatre, and other places.

On the other side of the town, the south-east, Johann Georg II. had made himself a shooting-box in the middle of the wood, in the eighties of the seventeenth century, and this now bears the name of the "Great Garden" (Fig, 502). 

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The house, in the middle of a pheasantry, exhibits the familiar characteristics of a hunting-seat. It is one of the earliest on German soil, for with its eight pavilions it had been built by 1698. The garden developed gradually out of a little hunting-place and a mere pheasantry, where “ hedges and underwood made a pleasant wilderness,” into a wide expanse. The French spirit is shown in the complete mastery over all the materials, so that a mere imitation discovered, so to speak, a way to an original scheme. When the garden was finished, at about the year 1720, the castle looked out on a narrow parterre like a ribbon, which passed round it. To right and left you saw parterres divided two by two in the boskets—a plan much favoured in Saxony. The eight pavilions mark out the broad middle tract of garden. They are united in pairs with terraces, that are designed to exhibit orange-trees in the summer. The four front ones enclose a part that is planted with clipped trees, and later on with parterre-beds, and in those at the back there is the great basin like a canal, which ends in a pretty open pavilion. From here semicircular avenues pass round the water, and meet in a central one, which leads through the park to the gate on the north. Round these inside show-gardens there are ornamental thickets, showing a variety of arrangements to a bird's-eye view. The out-of-door theatre also belongs to the beginning of the century: it is set out very finely in the northern grove on the right. The side scenes are made of trellis-work, with a background that is shortened by perspective and encircled by round paths. Just as at Herrenhausen, the stage is separated from the auditorium, which is built like an amphitheatre reached by a sunk path. The great boskets surround this ornamental garden in the form of a Greek cross.

According to a plan of the Bavarian court architect Cuivillié, drawn in his own magnificent style, there was to have been a still more important feature shown in this garden about the middle of the eighteenth century. The canal was to have been lengthened from the wide basin on to the end, and finished off there with a great water scheme. But as the little castle was to be discontinued and rebuilt nearer to the town on a much larger scale, it is a good thing that the plan never arrived at completion.

If the king and his architect had had the means of Louis XIV., they would certainly have gone beyond their French model. But there was a personal limit to what was possible for Augustus the Strong, and in this he differed from "Le Roi Soleil," who carried out all his plans. The works of the Saxon king which are still in existence are on so large a scale that it is surprisingly difficult to grasp the fundamental plans, until we remember that these are only those portions that were actually completed. This is particularly the case with the still imposing Gross-Sedlitz. There are two rows of terraces beside one another, leading down to a cleft in the valley (Fig. 503). 

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The park mounts again to the other side. The one set of terraces forms a semicircular orangery with gardens going up from it; and on the top of the other stands the castle. The water axis of this garden forms on the opposite side a fine cascade, pouring its waters into the dip of the valley. Originally the orangery design was to have been repeated on the other side, so that the castle with the water axis in front of it would have been in the middle, and thus would have made a truly regal pleasure-house.

In the same fashion Poppelmann, helped by Longuelune, who worked with him as garden architect, made a series of equally great plans for the royal place of Pillnitz on the Elbe. What actually was worked out was one side of the original garden scheme with two pavilions (Fig. 504). 

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It was a huge toy, which might have enchanted some giant's daughter, it was so charmingly carried out. But at that time people were more and more absorbed in an endless variety of games, and in this respect Pillnitz is quite a typical place. There were two little palaces, exactly alike, one on the river and the other by the hill, and these are clearly shown by their style to have been originally mere summer- houses: they are so-called "Chinese" pavilions, with a baroque underground part, on stumpy columns, an open front hall, wavy "Chinese" roofs, and cornices with all sorts of Chinese decoration. The whole garden, which extended as a parterre between the two houses and round them on three sides between river and hill, was laid out with a view to games of all kinds. There were forty-four little square plots for playing on, mostly with hedges round them, and also a shooting-ground behind the house by the hill (Plan D) with the butts in a kind of grotto in the hill-side. Over against the garden was the tennis- court (29), a little billiard-house, and another for wrestling (O, P). It is a sign of the great skill and the certainty of plan in garden-making at this period that the designers knew how to give not only symmetry but also a certain grandeur to this region of games, by making an imposing approach from the Elbe, and by laying out large courts in a clever way with narrow water-terraces and fountains (called in the plan “ water-lights “) (f), and thereby emphasising a crossway axis.

With King Augustus I. the great time of Saxony, even in the art of garden-making, quickly came to an end. Nothing new was made except certain attractive minor features, and there were no ideas for great estates. Many of these lesser features have been preserved at Dresden. In the matter of fountains a high degree of virtuosity was arrived at, the erection of statues being combined there with water. One masterpiece is the fountain in the Marcolini garden (Fig. 505), with its playing waters. 

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The charming picture of this place recalls what would otherwise be lost. And also at this time the pretty trellis-work of the Renaissance, as well as fountains, was revived, after being little used in the later days of Louis XIII. The interest in the garden that Count Brühl laid out on the narrow Elbe terrace lies only in the ground-plan, which shows how he managed to get over the difficulties of the space he had to deal with. Its chief beauty was in the covered walks made of trellis, which enclose the large garden in the front, and lead down from the belvedere in the garden at the back in a half-circle. This part, united with the terrace of trees by several avenues, cleverly joins on to the round part in the informal corner that had the Belvedere above it, a building now replaced by a new one. By the side of the trellised walks were the famous fountains that are still working, and have always been a marked feature. This late time can only claim originality when it gives itself up to play, either entirely or in part. And what Pillnitz did on a large scale in part only, the smaller places did altogether.