‘Picture Gallery, Royal Palace, Berlin, Germany’
Keystone View Company
The picture gallery was built c.1713 by Schlüter’s successor as architect, Johann Friedrich Eosander. It was 60m long, had yet another richly-painted ceiling and was formerly hung with enormous canvases showing Prussian military victories. Unfortunately many of the paintings were destroyed during World War Two. Perhaps the gallery’s most spectacular feature was a sculptural group at one end (not shown in the stereoview) which depicted some of the figures losing their balance and tumbling out of the composition. The picture gallery was gutted by fire in 1945 and the remains were demolished in 1950.
‘Throne Room, Royal Palace, Berlin’
Keystone View Company
The two stereoviews show the Rittersaal or Knights’ Hall, completed by Andreas Schlüter for Frederick I of Prussia c.1705. It was probably the finest of the Berlin City Palace’s 700 rooms. (The famous Amber Room, designed by Schlüter in 1701, was also a strong contender for the title until it was given to Tsar Peter the Great by Friedrich Wilhem I in 1716). Above the doors Schlüter added sculptural groups depicting America, Africa, Europe and Asia. The corners were filled with allegorical figures representing the seasons and times of day. The Baroque ceiling was painted by Johann Friedrich Wentzel with mythological gods from which hung rock crystal chandeliers. A pre-war vistor described the Rittersaal as “one of the most sumptuous in the world…and, with the possible exception of the Salle de Fetes in the Luxembourg Palace in Paris, it was certainly the finest Throne room in Europe”. The Rittersaal was destroyed by incendiaries during an air-raid on Berlin in February 1945 and the gutted shell of the palace was demolished in 1950.
‘Staircase detail in second court of castle, Berlin’
Although parts of the Stadtschloss dated back to the 15th century much of it was the brain-child of the sculptor and architect Andreas Schlüter. Schlüter was commissioned by Elector Frederick III of Brandenburg (later King Frederick I of Prussia) in 1697 to transform the Renaissance castle into a Baroque palace. Schlüter designed a remarkable sequence of state apartments for the king, most of which remained intact until the 20th century. These apartments were accessed via the main staircase. Known as the Gigantentreppe because of its immense size it rose through three floors. Instead of steps the staircase had cobbled ramps to allow the king and his retinue to ride into the palace on horseback. The stereoview shows just a small part of the Gigantentreppe with one of Schlüter’s superb life-sized atlantes from c.1700. One of the most inventive and lavish Baroque spaces in Europe, the Gigantenreppe was largely destroyed during World War Two and its remains were demolished in 1950. The majority of the exterior of the Berlin City Palace is currently being reconstructed at its original location at a cost of around £500 million. Unfortunately there are no plans to reinstate any of the interiors, including the Gigantentreppe.
‘Royal Palace, Berlin, Germany’
Keystone View Company
Unfortunately none of the more easily available stereographs of the exterior of the Berlin Stadtschloss work particularly well as an animated stereo image. There is often the lack of perspective necessary to throw the foreground and background away from each other, and the sheer size of the building was probably another factor. I’ve added this image to show something of the problem. The structure to the right was the colossal Kaiser Wilhem Monument, only a small part of which is shown in the stereoview. It was completed in 1897. It faced the palace’s Eosander Portal, designed by Johann Eosander and completed c.1710. Its three arched entrances and classical motifs were based on the Arch of Septimius Severus in Rome. The palace’s dome was (to my mind) a rather regrettable addition from the mid-19th century. Both the Wilhem Monument and the Eosander Portal survived World War Two relatively intact but they were both demolished along with the rest of the palace in the 1950s.
This stereograph was taken in 1902 during the coronation of Edward VII. Some celebratory bunting can be seen wrapped around the lamp posts. It shows the magnificent West Front of Wren’s St. Paul’s Cathedral as seen from the top of Ludgate Hill. The area was severely affected during the London Blitz of 1940. Although most of the buildings shown are Victorian (apart from the cathedral!) the stereograph gives a good impression of how the cathedral would’ve appeared when completed in 1708, rising up from relatively narrow streets packed with low-rise buildings. The same scene today is quite different.
The two stereoviews show the Hühnermarkt (Poultry Market) in Frankfurt’s medieval altstadt. It lay between the Römer (the 14th century town hall), and the cathedral, part of a dense network of squares and roads which dated back to the Middle Ages. The Hühnermarkt was surrounded by houses on all sides, many of which were medieval in origin with altered Baroque facades. One of these, known as the Esslinger House, belonged to Goethe’s uncle. A tiny part of it is just visible to the very far left in the first stereograph. In the centre of the square was a public water fountain with a bust of Friedrich Stolze, a 19th century novelist and poet born at a nearby house. The Hühnermarkt was completely destroyed during an air-raid in 1944 along with the vast majority of Frankfurt’s ancient city centre, although the bust of Stolze was later salvaged and re-erected elsewhere in the city. The old street plan was obliterated during post-war reconstruction but, at this very moment, work is underway to reinstate the Hühnermarkt along with several of its surrounding buildings. One of the houses to be reconstructed is the Esslinger House. Other reconstructions are planned for completion by 2016, a remarkable example of how historical architecture can linger in the collective memory to such an extent that people feel compelled to recreate it over seventy years after it was destroyed (a similar scheme has been in progress at Dresden since the late 1980s).
‘Salle du Premier Consul’
Part of the late 17th century state apartments of Louis XIV, the Salle des Gardes du Corps was literally the room of the bodyguards who regulated access to the king. Beyond this room were the king’s anti-chamber, the state bedroom, the audience room and the Galerie de Diane, all of which survived largely intact until 1871. Later called the White Room, the Salle des Garde du Corps had a painted ceiling by the Baroque artist Nicolas Loyr depicting Fame, Abundance and other allegorical deities descending from heaven. During the Second Empire the apartment was known as the Room of the First Consul and it was here that Emperor Napoleon III held official receptions. Like most of the other state apartments, the room was hung with some spectacular rock crystal chandeliers. In the 19th century at least the room had four half-columns crowned with busts of Roman emperors, two of which can be seen either side of the painting in the stereographs. The early 19th century painting itself was by Baron Gros and showed Napoleon on horseback. Presumably the painting was destroyed along with the rest of the room during the Paris Commune in May 1871. (Many of these early pre-1871 views of the interior of the Tuileries were printed on tissue paper which helps to explain their relatively poor quality over 140 years later!)