The Little Pheasant Castle, known locally as Fasanenschlösschen, is an eighteenth-century hunting lodge 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 1776, to be used as a hunting lodge. The interior spaces were decorated with rare and exotic rococo finishes, including painted wood and plaster, stucco lustro (a special plaster finish in imitation of marble), mural paintings on canvas, inlaid wood paneling, and 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.
Urgent conservation of the fragile interiors
From 2010 through 2013, 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. Historic embroidered silk from 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 did not provide adequate information, a simple finish matching the original in color and texture was substituted.
Our conservation work concluded in 2013 and was commemorated with an inauguration of the restored rooms. Following our projects, additional conservation work took place. In 2016, Maison Lesage completed the restoration of the delicate interiors in the Antechamber. Care for the Pheasant Castle’s unique interiors is a key part of the preservation of this unique monument. The 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.