Nymphenburg Palace, the extensive summer residence of the
Bavarian electors and kings is one of the most individualistic but significant palaces in
Europe, and its excellent decoration has remained almost intact.
Nymphenburg Palace History
On the birth in 1662 of his heir Maximilian Emanuel, Elector Ferdinand gave
his wife, Henrietta Adelaide of Savoy (1636–1676), some land for a palace west of Munich. In
1664 the foundation stone was laid for a villa suburbana in the Italian style, the ‘Borgo delle
Under the direction of Agostino Barelli and from 1673 of Enrico Zuccalli,
the central cubic block was erected, with domed pavilions linked to it by galleries. Its five
storeys were separated by string courses; and for a short time it had a roof with dormers. A
symmetrical external staircase with twin flights led to the central portal. An Italian garden
lay to the east.
The internal arrangement has changed little. At the centre was the
Steinerner Saal, adjoined by the electoral suites. Antonio Triva (1626–1699), Joseph Werner II,
Antonio Zanchi, Stefano Catani and others collaborated in the decorative paintings.
Building work slackened on the electress’s death and ceased in 1680, to be
resumed only in 1701 when Maximilian II Emanuel returned from the Netherlands and commissioned
Enrico Zuccalli to plan the next stage, directed from 1702 by Giovanni Antonio Viscardi. To the
existing main building the Elector added two slightly projecting cubic side pavilions, probably
on the foundations of the earlier ones, connected to the central pavilion by arcaded
The loose linking of the buildings and the view of the park from the arcades
and the passage through the socle storey of the middle building distinguish the
Nymphenburg, as a garden-palace, from such closed structures as Versailles Palace. Its models were not French, however,
but Netherlandish, Maximilian II Emanuel’s ideas having been influenced, in particular, by
Het loo at Apeldorn.
During the same period the middle pavilion was altered on both the town and
the park side, the five middle bays being reduced to three and large, round-arched windows
added on the first and second floors. Inside, arcades opened from the two rooms one above the
other on the garden side, into the Steinerner Saal, which thus received more light.
Articulated with colossal pilasters, the Steinerner Saal had a decorative
scheme by Johann Anton Gumpp (1701–3; apparently replaced 1726 by paintings on leather [destr.]
by Domenico Valeriani: d before 1771; and Giuseppe Valeriani: d 1761), similar to that in
Schloss Lustheim, showing scenes from the myth of Diana.
Further enlargement was delayed by the outbreak of the War of the Spanish
Succession (1704) and fully resumed only in 1715, under Josef Effner. He converted the lesenes
of the main pavilion into pilasters and on the garden side extended them to the cornice.
The four bays on either side of the central section were reduced to three,
and large triangular pediments (removed 1826) were added above the three central bays. In
1715–16 Effner elaborated the interior and produced plans (unexecuted) for subsidiary buildings
on each side. One of the first rooms to receive Régence panelling, by Johann Adam Pichler, was
the north anteroom, from around 1716.
The Marstall (now Marstallmuseum) with courtiers’ accommodation was built to
the south, the orangerie with other buildings to the north, while the galleries over the
canals, which linked the whole complex together, were not constructed until 1739 and 1747. The
long façades with middle and corner pavilions, the blind arcades and the segmental arched
windows clearly show the influence of such French architects as Robert de Cotte and,
especially, Germain Boffrand.
Under Elector Maximilian III Joseph, some rooms were altered and
redecorated. The most important work of this phase is the decoration of the Steinerner Saal by
Zimmermann and de Cuvilliés, focusing on Zimmerman’s fresco Nymphs Paying Homage to the Goddess
Flora. The decoration of the Gartensaal and the Emporensaal was designed by de Cuvilliés.
From 1804 to 1823 the Baroque garden, made up of symmetrical groups of
shrubbery, was extensively modified in the style of an English landscape garden. The last phase
of alterations to the palace took place under Maximilian IV Joseph, who chose it as his
favourite residence after he became king (1806). Karl Ludwig Puille began remodelling the rooms
of the first pavilions to the north and south from 1806. In 1826 Klenze adapted the central
building to the Neo-classical style.
Address: Schloss Nymphenburg 19, 80638 München, Germany. Get directions using the map
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