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I hope this will become a valued and rich source of inspiration and knowledge. Please Leave comments and enjoy your visit.

Sunday, 2 October 2016

A visit to the PALACE OF COMPIÈGNE | The Castle of PIERREFONDS | An excursion with some of my students Ornamental Woodcarving


A visit to the Castle (Palace) of Compiègne 
and the castle of Pierrefonds.
Ornamental woodcarving student’s visit.

For many years now, in company with the students in training for ornamental woodcarving, we make an annual excursion. Versailles Palace is one of these places and they are looking forward to visit it, but this year I have chosen a wonderful destination in the north of France.
In mid-July (2015), a bit late as normally, it seemed a good idea to visit the castle (palace) of Compiègne and the castle of Pierrefonds. Compiegne and Pierrefonds are to completely different historic buildings, but they had in common that they had same owner/occupant.

A visit to Compiègne Castle / view from the garden.

The Palace of Compiègne.  The rooms on the first floor
From Maaseik, in Belgium(Where I live), direction Compiègne, it takes about 3 ½ hrs driving and is well doable; Pierrefonds is just 15 minutes away from Compiegne. Compiegne is known for being the start point of the cycling race Paris-Roubaix. And here was the place where the Germans surrender during the First World War, in a train car just outside Compiegne.
Compiègne Castle is a castle which is still undiscovered by mass tourism, situated in a beautiful historic center. Beautiful sandstone buildings and homes, you notice that there is an atmosphere “that tells you that once this must have been an important place to be”, the same image you get in the old town of Versailles.
The choice of a visit to Compiègne was mainly because of the unique, beautiful preserved, historic interiors dating back to the late 18th century to mid-19th century. Period rooms crammed with furniture in Empire style (around 1810) and Napoleon III style (around 1860). It was pleasant to walk around, affordable ticket (7, 5 euro) and for 2 more euros you can have the audio guide in order to have more information.

Empress’ bedroom / Chateau de Compiègne.

Chateau Compiègne was one of the residences of Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte (Empire style) and 50 years later, of Emperor Napoleon III (Napoleon III style or 2nd empire). Compiegne has unique, beautiful preserved, historic interiors. We had a bit of luck, there was an exhibition running, an exhibition over the Empire decorative arts between 1800 -1815. For me, personally, this was a comprehensive retrospective. And all this beauty was included in the entry ticket, really worthy.
I will definitely put more attention to the Empire style and to this castle in my next blog entry.

One of the many rooms of the exhibition. | Palace of Compiègne

Chateau Pierrefonds 


Chateau Pierrefonds was originally a medieval fortress, which fell into disrepair and was restored and reconstructed around 1860 by Napoleon II orders. Napoleon III made of it a place of residence.
But –again- no crowds. Later that day I even had the impression that there were more visitors around Pierrefonds Castle than in Chateau Compiegne. This is probably due to the charisma and romantic image of a “fortress”, and has a great appeal to the younger tourists, which usually do not have such interest in dusty rooms full of history and furniture.
It becomes apparent that the restoration made by the architect Viollet-le-Duc was good, following the style of other castles from the same period. The interior of the castle offers an overview of historic rooms in neo-style, from neo-Gothic to neo-renaissance.

We found many woodcarvings, but the quality and originality are exceptional. There is an abundance of ornamentation in stone and stucco of remarkable craftsmanship, you need to stand still and absorb the beauty of the work. Even stone ornaments can be the source of inspiration for a woodcarver. The entry ticket to this castle, individual visitor, is 7, 50 euros. If you visit both places, you can ask for combination ticket.

 An excursion with some of my students Ornamental Woodcarving

 In the garden of Chateau Compiegne.

Translation by Lis Alvarado

Here, a brief photo description:

Chateau Compiègne


Emperor’s bedroom | The Palace of Compiègne

Room with flowers / Chateau de Compiègne.

Blue Room, Compiègne.

Empress dining room / Chateau de Compiègne

Compiègne Castle / Imperial dining room, detail.

Chateau de Pierrefonds


The Castle of PIERREFONDS | Napoleon III bedroom

Carving details, Reception room.

Ornament in stone / ceiling spiral staircase.


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Sunday, 3 July 2016

Hunting lodge FALKENLUST in Brühl, Germany | German Rococo interiors | Schloss Falkenlust near Cologne

Hunting lodge FALKENLUST in Brühl

German Rococo interiors |  Schloss Falkenlust near Cologne
Already for many years I occasionally go with a few students ornamental woodcarving on a fieldtrip. Château Versailles is one of the places where they are looking the most forward to, but this time I have chosen for some beautiful German destinations. 
End of June (2016), it seemed to be a good idea to visit the castles of Brühl, 'Augustusburg Palace and Falkenlust hunting lodge'. Two fine examples of German Rococo with breathtaking Rococo interiors. These two castles are located not so  far from the Belgian border near Cologne. From my hometown Maaseik (in Belgium) it is 1:15h by car.

Hunting lodge Falkenlust

The Prince Elector and Archbishop of Cologne, clemens August (1700-1761), a member of the Bavarian Wittelsbach dynasty, laid the foundation stone for 'Schloss Falkenlust' in 1729. The main reasons for his choice of the site were its beauty and its favourable position for falconry. 
The basic floor-plan and elevations of the main building, and its overall concept, can be attributet to François de Cuvilliés, and the interiors to Michael Leveilly. The hunting lodge was ready for use as early as 1733.

Falkenlust Castle, garden side

A walk trough Falkenlust

The entrance from the courtyard leads into the vestiule. In the niches are statues of nymphes and satyrs, probably by Kirchhoff and Dierix. The nymphs bear symbols of falconry, and the satyrs appear as guardians of the herons which are important for falconry as quarry. In the ceilling: The coat oa arms of Clemens August.

Proceed straight ahead into the salon. The wall covering consists of Dutch wall-tiles from Rotterdam. Above the fireplace is a painting of Clemens August in the uniform of a falconer. The other paintings on the walls show members of the Wittelsbach family.
To the right is the dining room. The wainscoting paintings: Biarelle, around 1745. The plasterwork decoration of the ceilling: Morsegno and Castelli, around 1733. Above the fireplace is a painting of Karl albrecht, the brother of Clemens August and Prince Elector of Bavaria (born in 1697 and crowned as Emperor Karl VII in 1742, died in 1745). The furniture includes two card-tables in coloured scagliola marble.

Falkenlust Brühl

To the left of the salon is the (guest's) bedroom, with a ceilling by Castelli and Morsegno, around 1733. Above the fireplace: a painting of Maria Arnalia, the wife of Karl Albrecht.
Return through the vestibule and walk to the right. 
The wardrobe has a wall-covering in leather and dates from 1745. On the side opposite the window, there is a toilet niche behind the right-hand door.

Continue straight ahead, and you will come to the Lacquer Cabinet, which has wooden wainscoting with a lacquer painting of Chinese motifs, sometimes reffered to as Indian. 
Above the fireplace is a portrait of Clemens August in aristocratic dresing gown ( Joseph Vivien, 1725). The ceilling decoration: Artario 1733.

Falkenlust Brühl, Lacquer Cabinet

Returning through the vestibule, you will arrive at the staircase. The walls are covered by more than 10000 dutch tiles from Rotterdam, specially produced for Schloss Falkenlust. They display the Bavarian coat of arms colours of white and blue with initials C.A. on falcon hoods and varous other motifs relating to falconry. The ceilling decoration: Castelli and Morsegno, around 1732, the ceilling painting Laurents de la Roque, 1736.

The upper Apartment

Upper vestibule: 
In the niches: angelic figures (Putti) with falcons and herons. The plinths on which the groups of figures stand show the four Elements (artists: Dierix and Le Clerc, following a model by van Helmont, around 1733). Above the doors are stucco bas-relief figures of a river god and two river goddesses. The ceilling painting shows Aurora and Diana personifying the morning and the evening.

Upper Vestibule, Falkenlust

To the right is the Grand upper Salon, stucco work by Morsegno, 1731/32.
On the right-hand side of the salon is the Cabinet Chinois pour le Café.
The ceiling decoration: Castelli and Morsegno, 1733. Above the fireplace: a portrait of Johann Theodor, Cardinal of Liège and brother of Clemens August, in the uniform of a falconer.
On the left-hand side of the Salon is the bedroom, with a ceiling decoration by Castelli and Morsegno, 1731. In the corners are respresentations of good and bad falconers with their birds. In the middle of the ceiling is a personification of night, in a star-spangled mantle and bat wings, accompanied by bats. A small putto shows the morning star.

The portrait above the fireplace is of Clemens August's brother Ferdinand Maria, Duke of Bavaria.
On the wall opposite the windows is a painting of Pope Clements by Georg Desmarées.
Return through the Vestibule, and turn to the right.
Wardrobe with a wall covering in waxcloth, around 1730-40. Continue straight ahead to the mirror Cabinet, mainly designed by Cuvillliés. 
The ceilling decoration is by Artario. This room is mainly furnished with Chinese porselain. The cabinet is given particular mention in the diary of the young Moart, who visited Schloss Falkenlust in 1763.

German rococo, Falkenlust |  The Mirror Cabinet

The Chapel is located outside in the park. It is built in the style of a grotto and took ten years to its completitaion. It was dedicated to Maria aegyptiaca in 1740. The interior is the work of Peter Laporterie.

Schloss Falkenlust, the Chapel

Falkenlust | The interior of the chapel, in the style of a grotto


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