Thursday, June 12
And Now For Your Daily Dose of Mad King Ludwig II of Bavaria
There was that tree he would take his hat off to at Linderhof, and also he nearly married his cousin, Sophie--that's not the crazy part, they're Wittelsbachs, it's a thing they do--on the grounds that she looked just like her relative, Empress Elisabeth of Austria. Though considering the Empress was a looker, this may just have been male tactlessness than anything else. And his habit of spilling food on himself. At least, contra received wisdom, he didn't waste public funds. Of course, considering what was happening to Germany at the time, it's easy to understand why he retreated into fantasy, even if he might have had a better chance at weathering Bismarck had he kept his wits about him.
One can partially chalk it up to the fact this was, generally, an age of royal weirdness. Victoria went into seclusion, Pius IX was a prisoner in the Vatican, Empress Alexandra hung out with Rasputin, Wilhelm II started World War I for kicks, and Queen Elisabeth of Rumania was a closet democrat.
Admitted, the materials and quality of his constructions sometimes suffered due to budget constraints and the king's demented-kid-in-a-candy-shop attitude to design, but if you stand back and squint and overlook the fact most of, for instance, Herrenchiemsee's interior is bare brick, and the third floor of Neuschanstein is missing, the effect is often quite striking. And they're just fun. If if were not for the king's reclusiveness, think of the parties they could have had...
Today, we've got some renderings of Burg Falkenstein, the fanciful gothic robber-baron castle that was on the drawing board at the time of the King's--cough--drowning, and which, for better or worse, never got finished.
This, the second conceptual rendering of the design was by scene-painter Christian Jank, the king's go-to guy for romantic vistas and the like. The first was a bit more restrained--let's not forget Neuschwanstein, the archetypal Ludwig castle was Romanesque--but His Bavarian Majesty wanted it a bit fancier, and the drawing above was produced. An architect was sent for, but his more budget-conscious elevations of Jank's vision proved too boring.
At some point, the design got scaled down again, by Max Schultze, the court architect of the Princes von Thurn und Taxis--the former postmasters-general of the Holy Roman Empire--and was replaced yet again by a pair of architects who indulged their wildest fantasies in the final design, realizing there was no way it was going to be built anyway. During all this time, the king's bedroom grew bigger and bigger until it became almost the entire focus of the building, with talk of even rendering most of the rest of the interior unfinished so all the money and work could be focused on this vast, swollen Byzantine space, looking more like a chapel than anything else. Indeed, it was a drawing of the king's bedchamber--complete with dome and stained-glass windows, that was being worked on when news came of the king's death.
Apparently someone has built their own castle inspired--very loosely--by Jank's designs in Texas, though frankly that bedroom is just crying out to be refitted with an altar, iconostasis and plenty of incense.