Friday, March 20, 2015

Palaces of the 1700's

In my last post, I wrote about how Stockholm expanded so little during the 18th century that only one new (significant) church was built during the entire century.  Palace-building is further evidence of the slow economy.  During the 17th century, at least 52 palaces were built, but only five were built during the following century.

The 1600’s was Sweden’s “Time of Great Power” when the empire stretched across the Baltic and included all or parts of Norway, Denmark, Germany, Finland, Estonia, Russia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland.  Money flooded into the capital and nobles, generals, admirals, and the like built great palaces to illustrate their successes.  A few of the palaces, however, were built by successful businessmen and even prosperous architects.

During the 1700’s, however, Sweden slowly lost much of its empire and thus much of its wealth and prosperity.  Despite various economic measures, the economy never really flourished.  In addition, the nobility lost much of their power and thus their wealth, yielding center stage to businessmen.  If the 1600’s was the nobles’ century, then the 1700’s belonged to the burgeoning bourgeoisie who became wealthy from trade and industrialism.  

Interestingly, two out of five of the 18th century palaces were built by prominent architects for themselves.  If only architects were paid so well today!  Another was built by a real estate developer, the fourth by a count who was downsizing from a much larger palace, and the fifth was a royal residence for the Dowager Queen.  (The palace for the count has been demolished, so I have not covered it in my post.)   

Although the bourgeoisie expanded considerably during the 18th century, they didn’t have the kind of  resources for palace-building that the nobles had had one hundred years earlier.  Eighteenth century businessmen tended to renovate existing palaces and update them from Renaissance styles to the more modern and simple Classicism.  This is why many of Stockholm’s earlier palaces actually look like they belong to a later era.

The bourgeoisie also tended to be more focused on their malmgårdar, or suburban farms, than on city palaces.  While some of the malmgårdar are quite modest, several of them are palace-like in their scale and composition.

When resources did stretch to a new city palace, the scale was much more modest than the previous century.  Two of the 18th century palaces are really just glorified townhouses.  The Adelcrantzska Palace was even more of a rental building from the beginning—although the original residents were various branches of Adelcrantz’s family, they all had separate apartments.  By the 1800’s there were more than 100 people living in the building, mostly “simple folk” unrelated to the Adelcrantzs. 

I have excluded the rebuilding of the Royal Palace from my count.  Even though the new palace wasn’t habitable until 1754, the design and scale belongs to the 17th century.  However, the severe delay in construction due to the king’s shaky finances is indicative of the 18th century’s slow economy.  Unfinished Fredrikshov Palace, which I have included in my count, is another royal palace project hampered by a lack of funds.   

Fredrikshov Palace was the only palace that retained the 17th century’s notion of a U or H-formed building in a park-like setting.  Instead, the other new palaces are in urban settings and they are built up to the lot line.  Interior courtyards let light into the deeper palaces.

All of the palaces are stylistically related on a continuum of Classical architecture.  While the rustication at the base of the Palmstedt and Westman palaces evoke Florentine Renaissance palaces, the Fredrikshov and Adelcrantz palaces are more influenced by French trends. Restrained detailing, light colored plaster, thin pilasters, and slightly protruding middle entry volumes are prevalent regardless of the interpretation.

1) Adelcrantzska Palats, 1750’s.  Norrmalm.  Architect C. F. Adelcrantz, built for himself and several branches of his family.
The entire block surrounding the Adelcrantz Palace was closed off due to street construction, so I was unable to get a closer look at this building.  In style, it reportedly links the Palaces of the 1600’s with the Gustavian Classicism of the 1700’s.  Although the palace abuts the street, the main facade is not on the street but is found in the courtyard.  I am uncertain if this is due to a newer, modern street grid or if this was the original intention.  The facade’s central body pushes out a small bit from the rest of the facade, and barely discernable pilasters create a slightly more three-dimensional effect.  While the facade is quite simple in its 18th century Classicism, the visible and relatively steep roof is rooted in earlier Renaissance styles.

2) Fredrikshov, 1770’s.  Östermalm.  Architect C. F. Adelcrantz, built for the Dowager Queen.

Fredrikhov's southern building.
Today, Fredrikshov leaves much to the imagination as much of the palace has been demolished and the once extensive grounds are hemmed in by later development.  There are two square buildings remaining; the southern was built as an inn in the 1660’s by  Jean de la Vallée, but it was given a facelift in 1731 by architect Carl Hårlamen when he built the northern building as a hunting lodge for the king.    Two kings later, Gustav III had a terrible and politically dangerous relationship with his mother who, among other scandals, claimed that the king’s only child and heir was not legitimate.  Gustav III thought it best to remove his mother from court life and install her in a Dowager House on the periphery of town instead.  
Fredrikhov's northern building
Although the king was eager to move his mother (against her will), he procrastinated in getting the palace built.  Architect Adelcrantz drew up four proposals, the first of which was a rather simple addition to the existing buildings.  The final proposal was a grand palace set in an even grander garden leading down to the water’s edge.  The complex was comparable in size and grandeur to contemporary French palaces, but the Adelcrantz portion of the palace as well as all of the accompanying buildings such as gatehouses and stables were demolished in the 1920’s.  Today, the remaining two buildings are used as an elementary school.
Adelcrantz's Final proposal including the gardens.  On the right, I have added color to make the drawing a little more readable.  Yellow = buildings which are now demolished (although it is unclear to me whether all of the yellow buildings were ever completed).  Red = what I believe to be the two remaining buildings.  Blue = water.

3) Westmanska Palats (Vetenskapsakademien), 1799-1801.  Norrmalm.  Architect C. C. Gjörwell, built for a real estate developer.

Compared to the other palaces of the 1700’s, the Westman Palace is quite large and pompous.  The building occupies an entire block, although two interior courtyards allow daylight into the building.  However, two or three entire stories have been added to the original three-story building, lending it an even  more monumental appearance (the number of added stories vary depending on which facade you're looking at).  
Left: The palace fills the entire block.  Right: Insensitive additions over time.  In this image, the top three stories are not original, and the building has doubled in height from the original design.

Additionally, the facades have been changed to an extent that the architect would hardly recognize his own building—the original colonnade has been reduced to pilasters, the arched pattern in the rusticated base has been eliminated, the main entry facade is now temple-like with its dominant tympanum, and over-scaled dentils march around the cornice. 
The main facade today and in the mid 1800's before the facade was changed.

4) Palmstedts Hus, finished 1805. Gamla Stan.  Architect Palmstedt, built for himself, although he died before the building was finished.

Palmstedt’s House is a good example of a building whose emphasis is exclusively on the ground level.  Because the street is so narrow, it is impossible to get far enough away from the building to get a good look at the upper stories.  
The upper stories are therefore plain and simple with a smooth plaster surface and extremely few details while the street level is relatively detailed with heavy rustication in the plaster and an expressive Roman-arched entryway.  In the dense urban environment of Gamla Stan, it is impossible to emphasize the central part of the facade by stepping it out very much, and the narrow lot discourages any inward jogs.  Pamlstedt combined both of these typical moves in order to save space—the middle part of the facade juts slightly outward into the sidewalk while the entry portal is deeply recessed into the facade.

Stormaktstidens privatpalats i Stockholm by Martin Arvid Ohlsson (1951).
Carl Fredrik Adelcrantz Arkitekt by Stig Fogelmarck (1957).
C.  F. Adelcrantz Ett gustavianskt konstnärsöde by Stig Fogelmarck (1994).

All of the images are my own except for:
Adelcrantz Palace image left:
Adelcrantz Palace image right:
Drawings of Fredrikshov: Carl Fredrik Adelcrantz Arkitekt by Stig Fogelmarck (1957).
Lithography of the Westman Palace by Ferdinand Tollin:
Drawing of Palmstedt Hus: