The Landscape Guide

Baroque Gardens in Germany

 Herrenhausen Wilhelmshöhe Schleissheim Nymphenburg Karlsruhe Ludwigsburg Brühl Schönborn Marquardsburg Favorite Gaibach Pommersfelden Brüchsal Waghäusel Würzburg Veitshochheim

More important for garden history was the Schönborn family, a race of nobles occupying the greater number of ecclesiastical properties in mid-Germany during the first decades of the eighteenth century. After the famous and ambitious prince Johann Philip of Mainz had raised the family to honour and dignity, a great number of his nephews, who had been destined to the career from their youth up, attained the high position of ecclesiastical lords. This peculiar sort of nepotism appears once more at Cologne as a late flower of the Italian Renaissance growing on German soil. And these fundamental relationships come out in a similarity of ideas, a proud and masterful spirit, ari unbounded love of building, and also a sense of responsibility directed less to politics than to art. Wherever the Schönborn family came, life was full of activity. Their castle (built by the non-clerical part of the family in Lower Austria on the River Enns) shows the artistic feeling in all of them, both by its situation and in the importance of the garden at the new home. It is one of those works whose tout ensemble is one of great magnificence in strict adherence to French rules (Fig. 467).
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Of the clergy the most conspicuous was Lothar Franz, who became Bishop of Bamberg in 1693, also Archbishop of Mainz and Elector in I695, The castles he built have been engraved, gardens and all, by Salomon Kleiner, and the engravings were published in 1728. These pictures are the only abiding witness to the gardens, scarcely one of which has endured to the present day. The shooting-box, Seehof, one of the smaller places, near Bamberg, was received as a legacy by Lothar Franz from his predecessor Marquard von Stauffenberg, after whom it took another name, Marquardsburg (Fig. 468).
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Lothar Franz finished it, and liked to live there while his residence at Bamberg was being rebuilt. To suit its character as a shooting-box, the central building was quite open. The original plan may have been to make it easy for huntsmen from the district to effect an entrance on all sides by four approaches, and so assemble at the door. There is a large show-garden round the castle, and the whole ground is divided into three equal rectangles lying side by side. The house lies in the middle on a raised square terrace, which adds a slight contour to the level garden. The fine low-lying parterres with their cascades and fountains belong to the middle rectangle, the other two being laid out left and right in boskets, in one of which is the theatre, and in the other some fountains.

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The most important garden made by Lothar Franz, the Favorite at Mainz, has the same threefold arrangement of axis (Fig. 469). The territory here was certainly quite different from that at Seehof. The land, again a regular rectangle, ascends gradually from the Rhine, only separated from the river by a carriage road. This garden is divided as it ascends from the Rhine into three parts, cut off from one another, but lying side by side. The first ornamental garden mounts upward from a parterre that has wonderful water-works, ending in a grotto of Thetis, to a still larger pond with statues and cascades. This main parterre (Fig. 470) is enclosed by six pavilions arranged with the chief building in the form of an amphitheatre.

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 This originally was to be the actual pleasure-castle, but was afterwards converted into an orangery with a banqueting hall. The second garden, close by, was overlooked by a grotto terrace on the Rhine; again the axis is marked by the arrangement of the water, and a great pond comes to an end with a Neptune cascade, from which we mount farther to a Ring Cascade, and finally to the Grotto of Proserpine. The third and last garden has a hedge, which cuts off from the river a so-called boulingrin, the name now given to a sunk part with trees—in this case chestnuts—and a basin in the enclosure. From this spot we ascend to the great promenade between high hedges and on grassy steps: this walk has crossway avenues of chestnut, and water-works at the end. The horse-chestnut was the favourite tree at the turn of the century, because it was new.

The Elector called this beloved creation of his “a little Marly,” and certainly the first ornamental part, with its shining waters leading straight down to the Rhine from the main building, by way of pavilions, reminds us more of the much-admired French model than of any German garden. But the plan of the whole is most original, and to get the necessary balance between show parts and private parts these are placed side by side. But the river with its life and power binds the whole together, like a mighty canal across the end; and a most pleasant landscape frames the picture. When in 1726 the fourteen fine engravings of Salomon Kleiner were published, the editor added a preface, which says that, “ although the almighty and omniscient Creator of the Universe gave it the perfection of beauty, still Art has given certain aid to Nature herself, by providing noble buildings and beautiful gardens, always more and more gay and elegant.” This work (Favorite), however, “ that can never be enough admired for its exquisite architecture,.” as the title says, perished in the storm of revolutions leaving no trace behind. The last Elector of Mainz, the Coadjutor Dalberg, entertained six thousand émigrés here in 1792, and arranged a magnificent feast for them in the garden. Favorite opened its hospitable gates for the last time to the Congress of Princes held on 19 July, 1792. On 21 October the French arrived, and a few months later the whole place was razed to the ground.

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At the time when Lothar Franz was still busy over his darling place, his small private castle at Gaibach (Fig. 471) was altered.  It was still a water-castle in the old style; and the Elector retained the moat as an ornament to the place, and only added two wings to the garden façade. 

People walked over the bridge into the garden, where Lothar Franz succeeded in combining the most delicate products of modern feeling with the older character of the house. The fundamental plan of the garden shows a sentiment of the Renaissance, that union of the ornamental and useful which the age of Louis XIV. persistently challenged and rejected. After a fine parterre de broderie with a Triton fountain, there comes a place that again points to the Elector’s preference for cross-roads, and perhaps also shows direct Italian influence: a plantation on the right is laid out as a round botanical garden for foreign plants, and answering to this on the other side there is a sunken round basin, with parterre beds and a high hedge round it, and across the end a grotto hill, ornamental waters, and a little house, which perhaps was a relic of the former garden. The next things we find are two large plots of greensward planted with fruit-trees, some tall, some dwarf. One of the two has a pergola on it like a great cross. From this part of the ground two gently sloping terraces rise, with a semicircular orangery and grand hall on the top (Fig. 472).

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 To right and left we have berceaux and pavilions, and in front of the orangery there are parterres. All these separate parts might easily belong to a Renaissance garden; but in the place taken as a whole there is a severe regularity of plan; and the placing of the main and side avenues, the marking of the middle axis by fountains, all show the style of the eighteenth century.

A fourth castle that Lothar Franz inherited he altered in 1711 after Favorite was finished. This was Pommersfelden at Bamberg (Fig. 473). 

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The peculiarity of the fine terrace gardens is that they end in two great ponds, which in most modern gardens would be superseded by a canal. But the canal is always kept in the background in the gardens of the Schönborn family, and thus they again have a character in common, such as we find in the juxtaposition of the different kinds of garden scenes, in spite of the great variety they show.

From among the seven nephews of Lothar Franz no less than four princes of the Church were appointed. Perhaps the most original figure among them is Damian Hugo Philip, who held the bishoprics of Speyer and Constance till the year 1743. His means were small, and he came to a neglected land, but still he knew how to make a flourishing and attractive place out of the little Residence of Brüchsal, which was (to use his own words) ‘"a peasant’s hole, so to speak" ; and from this, with the greatest difficulties to surmount, he grouped the various parts about his own house, where he began to build with great zeal and energy in 1720. His love of rule matched this energy. “ I will be master,” he said; “not till I am a cold corpse will I cease to be master.” He always had it in his mind that he would get a claim to immortality in the world to come if he made his name famous through his buildings. Once when he returned from his travels, he found that certain burghers had dared to make some change in the stucco-work and the height of the windows, so he made a formal protest to posterity in the form of a protocol: “ Thus do we herewith make protest, and no reasonable man will impute this to us for blame— seeing that outside and inside our land we have built and set up many fair buildings worth millions of money, under our own direction and ordering, to the approbation of all men—saying that in our old age we are foolish and base for devising arrangements so contemptible and worthy of laughter. We herewith once more protest most emphatically, and we disapprove of everything that has been done in this business, against our will, and against our own arrangement.”

The garden at this place was never very important, and its greatest charm was due to the wide terrace— the middle walk in its present altered state. This was edged by a pergola in a half-circle, and adorned with parterre-beds, which led by a few steps to the greater parterre. There is not the least doubt that there must have been an Indian house and other erections in the park beyond. A Chinese pavilion stood on the hill at a distance from the castle, and it is still preserved as part of the so-called Belvedere, which was in a small pleasure-garden, named Wasserburg because it contained the reservoir that fed the waters. When the work of restoration was completed, the court of honour was once more planted in the old charming fashion, The parterre de broderie round the two fountains has a very pleasing effect, especially as seen from the balcony of the castle. The enclosed court, bounded on the town side by gates and pavilions, was perhaps still more attractive to look at when shimmering waters flowed into the trenches that were cut between these buildings. It is a pity that an attempt was not made to restore the garden itself in the old style.