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The oldest ecclesiastical Baroque residence on the Upper Rhine

Bruchsal Palace

Schloss Bruchsal, Innen, Hauptbau, Kuppelsaal, Kuppel; Foto: Dr. Manfred Schneider, Nußloch, www.manfred-schneider.de
Power and fame for all to see

The ceiling fresco

He is enthroned above the door to the Marble Hall, stately and self-assured. Prince-Bishop Franz Christoph von Hutten, who ruled from 1743 to 1770, can be seen in the frescoes in the Domed Hall. He is surrounded by the buildings that he had built in Bruchsal. However, he also had his predecessor, the builder of the palace, included in the painting.

Bruchsal Palace, Painted ceiling in the domed hall; Image: Dr. Manfred Schneider, Nußloch, www.manfred-schneider.de

Painted ceiling in the domed hall.

Building served representational purposes

It was not only the residential palace that the prince-bishops built in Bruchsal, but also many other buildings in the city. Rulers in the Baroque period loved to reference their building activity, as buildings were part of royal representation. Ceiling paintings typically served as a platform for such self-depictions, as is the case in Bruchsal. The fresco in the Domed Hall was created by Johann Zick in 1752.

Bruchsal Palace, Painted ceiling in the domed hall; Image: Dr. Manfred Schneider, Nußloch, www.manfred-schneider.de

Prince bishop Hutten as builder and art sponsor.

Builders on the ceiling

The two builders can be seen above the doors to the ceremonial halls: Damian Hugo von Schönborn is above the entrance to the Royal Hall, and Franz Christoph von Hutten is above the Marble Hall. With arms spread wide, he sits on his throne and displays all that he created in Bruchsal, represented by human figures of various ages, carrying construction plans and drawings in their hands. The women at the left embody painting and sculpture. One of them is carving Hutten's coat of arms in stone.

Detail from the ceiling painting by Johann Zick in the Domed Hall of Bruchsal Palace, 1752. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Arnim Weischer

Two architects with their construction plans.

The prince-bishops' architects

At Hutten's left, a young man carries a drawing of the palace up the stairs. Hutten added the balconies to Schönborn's building, as the depiction alludes. It is possible that the two men may have used the same building director, namely the young royal architect, Johann Leonhard Stahl. Below him stands an older man—perhaps his father, Johann Georg Stahl—with the plans for the barracks, which Hutten had built between 1750 and 1753.

Bruchsal Palace, Painted ceiling in the domed hall; Image: Dr. Manfred Schneider, Nußloch, www.manfred-schneider.de

Details of the painted ceiling in the domed hall.

Saltworks and water reservoir

At the bishop's right, a cherub completes a view of the saltworks. The woman with the small fan references Bruchsal's source of salt. She displays the sign that alchemists, the predecessors of chemists, used for salt. The naked river god below and to the right next to the cascades is presenting the moated castle that was created in 1748 on Steinberg hill above a newly created water reservoir. Its remains are now part of the Schönborn Gymnasium. A shooting house, the present belvedere, was built nearby.

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