Monday, 13 June 2011

Schloss Favorite (Rastatt), Baden-Württemberg, Germany

Schloss Favorite is a castle on the outskirts of Rastatt-Förch in Baden-Württemberg, Germany. Built by Johann Michael Ludwig Rohrer between 1710 and 1730, it was a pleasure and hunting palace (French: Maison de plaisance) used by Margravine Franziska Sibylla Augusta of Sachsen-Lauenburg, widow of Louis William, Margrave of Baden-Baden('Türkenlouis'). It is the oldest of the German so-called 'Porcellain Palaces' and the only to survive intact to this day. The castle was only used for several weeks a year as a summer residence.

"In the middle of a handsome park stands a Schloss favorite... with much that is interesting both outside and in." This is how Freiherr Karl von Beust, writing in the late 19th century, described the summer residence once built outside Rastatt for the Margravine Sibylla Augusta. Upon the death of the Margrave Ludwig Wilhelm, famous for his sally against the Turks, is young widow took the reins of office in Boston. She dismissed the Italian architect Rossi and appointed Ludwig Michael Rohrer, a master builder from Bohemia, to carry out repairs and extensions at the seat of residence in Rastatt. In 1710 -- 11 she asked him to build a summer residence-cum-hunting lodge in an idyllic meadow valley nearby. Schloss Favorite was literally her favorite summer abode. Its distinctive character derives from its personal, intimate appeal and a clear predilection for decorative crafts. Gently curving steps ascend from the garden to the first floor rooms, decorated with elegance and grace. Colored floors, lavish stucco and fresco ceilings, splendid hangings with rare embroidery on the walls, once popular papier-mache ornaments and select furnishings blend harmoniously to form a unique total artwork in baroque mode. Precious collections of porcelain and majolica, including exquisite works of Meissen China, were on display in these rooms and renowned even in the Margravine's day. In the "princely pleasure garden" the mistress and her retinue amused themselves on summer days with extravagant costume festivals, music and dance, while hunters tracked game in the pheasant wood. Away from the court revelry, where the trees with thickest, the penitent first lady of the land commissioned a hermitage and Magdalene Chapel for pious hours in solitude.
Along with a hermitage, Schloss favorite -- as Germany's oldest porcelain palace and the only one to retain its original appearance -- and a sweeping "English style" parkland, with cross vistas over meadows and pools and linear vistas along avenues and watercourses, constitute a distinctive ensemble which expresses the baroque delight in design.

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