Subscribe to Posts via:
Email
RSS

Which -if we recall- really was a story of three lions: two at De Paauw and the one at Drottningholm.

It turns out we are talking about at least four lions. Some closer inspection of other photos of the Swedish lion revealed that there are also two lions at Drottningholm. 1)For photos see: Ove Hidemark, The Drottningholm Court Theatre: its advent, fate and preservation (Stockholm 1993), pp 4+5, 64, 122+123 and 137. It is not the same set as at De Paauw, though, because the ones in Sweden both have their tail on the right side of their body, while one of the statues in The Netherlands has his tail draped on the left side of his body. 2)Both couples are placed facing opposite directions. The resulting difference is that -when seen from the side- in Sweden one always sees only one tail at a time, whereas at De Paauw either none at all, or two tails are visible.
The lack of symmetry suggests that two different lion types were made, possibly in series, which could be combined at will. It is therefore quite possible that more of these lion statues are hidden in some collection or garden.

lionsBe that as it may, the more interesting question is whether all lions share the same provenance. This is suggested by their similar appearance.
According to current literature, the lions at De Paauw were placed there somewhere in the early 1850s. It is claimed to be a gift from the Russian tzar Alexander II to Frederik, prince of The Netherlands. The earliest reference to that story I have found is from as late as 1924, when a large part of De Paauw was transferred to the council of Wassenaar. Its soon-to-be-former owner, Mr. Chabot, presented the set of lions and a trough as a gift, and in an accompanying letter stated how Frederik had originally received the statues. 3)On September 27, 1924. See: Frans Micklinghoff, Kastelen, buytenplaetsen en landgoederen in Wassenaar (Wassenaar 1998), p150. It is likely that a dating of around 1850 or the early years of the following decade is inspired by the fact that in those years an extensive remodelling of both house and garden took place, under supervision of the prince. The German architect H.H.A. Wentzel was called in to give the estate a pompeian atmosphere. These slick, white marble lion statues must have fitted into the picture quite well, hence the dating in the early 1850s.

In most literature since then this story is repeated, with some inevitable minor alterations (e.g. ‘in 1850’, ‘around 1850’ or ‘in the early 1850s’). “Tzar Alexander II” is always named as the giver, even though he wasn’t tzar until 1855. The most logical conclusion would be that the actual donation was made by Alexander in the later 1850s. But that may be taking the easy route, and it does not explain how the Drottningholm lions fit into this story?

That last part is probably the easiest to answer. Knowing that prince Frederik’s daughter Louise married the Swedish crown prince Carl in 1850, certainly ties both families, gardens and lion groups firmly together. The fact that in 1850/51 architect Hermann Wentzel (1820-1889) worked in Stockholm on the Nationalmuseum, right before he was commissioned by prince Frederik at De Paauw in 1853, only strenghtens these ties.
This means we can already identify one possible explanation for the occurence of these statues in exactly those two gardens: two of the lions, given to Frederik by tzar elect Alexander, may in turn have been a gift from Frederik to his daughter.

But there is a catch here: in a recent article on the work that Wentzel did at De Paauw, an almost casual remark states that the lions were a gift by Alexander to a relative of Frederik. This relative then passed the lions on to him, for his newly remodelled garden. 4)Wim Meulenkamp and Carla Oldenburger, ‘A miniature Klein-Glienicke – Dutch stibadia modelled on Prussian examples’ in: Prussian Gardens in Europe. 300 years of garden history (Leipzig 2007), p99. But it never becomes clear where this information comes from.
This puts things in a totally different perspective, and forces us to turn our attention to Drottningholm, where the lions are situated in front of the garden fa├žade of the famous court theatre. Could it be the statues were originally a gift to the Swedish royal family, who then passed two lions, a trough and an architect on to the future queen’s father?

More on that in part 3.

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. For photos see: Ove Hidemark, The Drottningholm Court Theatre: its advent, fate and preservation (Stockholm 1993), pp 4+5, 64, 122+123 and 137.
2. Both couples are placed facing opposite directions. The resulting difference is that -when seen from the side- in Sweden one always sees only one tail at a time, whereas at De Paauw either none at all, or two tails are visible.
3. On September 27, 1924. See: Frans Micklinghoff, Kastelen, buytenplaetsen en landgoederen in Wassenaar (Wassenaar 1998), p150. It is likely that a dating of around 1850 or the early years of the following decade is inspired by the fact that in those years an extensive remodelling of both house and garden took place, under supervision of the prince. The German architect H.H.A. Wentzel was called in to give the estate a pompeian atmosphere. These slick, white marble lion statues must have fitted into the picture quite well, hence the dating in the early 1850s.
4. Wim Meulenkamp and Carla Oldenburger, ‘A miniature Klein-Glienicke – Dutch stibadia modelled on Prussian examples’ in: Prussian Gardens in Europe. 300 years of garden history (Leipzig 2007), p99. But it never becomes clear where this information comes from.

Leave a Reply