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LITTLE PHEASANT CASTLE OF MORITZBURG
A project to restore unique rococo architectural finishes
Moritzburg, Saxony, Germany
The Little Pheasant Castle, known locally as Fasanenschlösschen, is an eigteenth-century hunting lodge located on the grounds of the Moritzburg estate, outside Dresden, Germany. The building was designed by the Dresden architect Johann Daniel Schade (1730-1798) and constructed between 1770 and 76, to be used for hunting pheasant and other small game. The interior spaces were decorated with rare and exotic rococo finishes. The full range of finishes includes painted wood and plaster, stucco lustro (a special plaster finish in imitation of marble), mural paintings on canvas, inlaid wood paneling, painted and gilded ceiling stucco, as well as unique finishes crafted out of materials like embroidered silk, straw, pearls, and feathers. In royal hands until 1945, the building was then used as part of a natural history museum, until it was closed for restoration in 1996. After eleven years, the building opened for very small groups of visitors. Such is the fragile condition of the interior that visitors to the Little Pheasant Castle have been asked to use white gloves and protective footwear inside the building.
HOW WE HELPED
Starting in 2009, WMF assisted with the conservation of the castle’s interior wall coverings together with the Ostdeutsche Sparkassenstiftung (East German Savings Bank Foundation) and Sparkasse Meißen. The project prioritized the conservation of the rarest finishes, which were in urgent need of attention. In the bedroom, the original feather wall decoration was almost entirely intact. Surviving feathers were cleaned and reinstalled, as the original adhesive had become brittle over the centuries. In the Elector’s Bathroom, a unique assembly consisting of straw interwoven with rows of pearls and attached to canvas backing with silver wire were also be conserved in place. Lastly, historic embroidered silk from the Antechamber and the Chinese Cabinet was carefully replicated, with the aid of comparative studies, archival records, and oral descriptions, as little original material survived. Where the historical record does not provide adequate information, a simple finish matching the original in color and texture was substituted. The restoration work began in September 2010 and finished in early 2013. It reopened in April of that year.
WHY IT MATTERS
Care for its unique interiors is a key part of the preservation of this precious rococo monument. Tthe building is an ideal museum of rococo interior decoration, at a time when Saxony’s historic castles and fortresses have been attracting record numbers of visitors.