Artists in the Castle: Stadt Roth

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Artists in the Castle

Here you will find information on the artists and makers of Ratibor castle’s  furnishings and design. 

Conradin Walther (1846-1910)

Conradin Walther was in charge of the project’s complete design oversight. The designs for the furnishings in the dining-hall originate from him, and this is where the middle door of a big sideboard bears his monogram “CW”.

Conradin Walther was a professor of architecture at the Royal School of Fine Art in Nuremberg and belonged to the main representatives of the so-called “Nuremberg Style”, an architectural movement, which, above all, focused on the cityscape care of Nuremberg at the end of the 19th century. The representatives of this influential Nuremberg school continued their efforts to maintain the heritage of the late medieval

Nuremberg cityscape and to retain a unifying appearance when constructing new buildings. The guiding principle of all these efforts was the Nuremberg of Dürer times, the time of the beginning renaissance.

The erection of Ratibor Castle also was in this era, so that by choosing a representative of the “Nuremberg Style” as an artistic head, Stieber’s intention of reminding people of the spirit of the construction time with its furnishings was only logical.

Wanderer and a couple of Nuremberg artist colleagues, like Friedrich Wanderer and Georg Kellner, guaranteed the principal for the at least partial reconstruction that could have been taken as the style of the 16th century. But Wilhelm did not really intend to tackle a reconstruction of the castle, so for him the various rooms should serve representative purposes, far beyond the reminiscences of the Margrave Time.

That is why the harking back to the baroque design form was the obvious choice for the huge staterooms, especially the ceremonial room, with Rudolph von Seitz and Ferdinand Wagner d.J. from the leading Munich School of Theatrical and Historical Painting being two artists that could meet these expectations to the fullest.

Rudolph von Seitz (1847-1910)

Rudolph von Seitz belonged to the leading designers of the Wilhelminian style in Munich. Together with the architect Gabriel von Seidl, he was running the firm Seitz & Seidl, very successfully designing extravaganza like furniture, chandeliers and other items, but also delivering complete furnishings.

He is not only responsible for the painted tapestries in the ceremonial hall, showing scenes of Homer’s Odyssey, but for the wall paintings in the window jambs with their grotesques and emblems in the very room.

It was especially the other previously mentioned painter from Munich, Ferdinand Wagner d. J., who as the second artistic personality, beside Conrad Walther, has had a huge influence on the appearance of Ratibor Castle up to now.

Ferdinand Wagner d. J. (1847-1927)

After a short time at the Munich Academy, economic reasons forced him to start a vocational training with the royal court scene painters Simon and Angelo Quaglio in Munich. It was there that Ferdinand Wagner’s style of painting was to be strongly influenced by his working on large-format stage sceneries in the years following.

His very first major order was to show that. In Munich, he painted a scenery depicting the Tannhäuser Saga, subtly deriding it. It was then that the number of orders for large-format decorative painting coming in were increasing, having a strong emphasis on more or less serious historical scenes in taverns, like the Hofbräuhaus and the Ratskeller in Munich. His reputation as a specialist was soon renowned even beyond the region of Bavaria or Germany, so he was not only supplying London’s German restaurant Tivoli with his paintings and designs from his constantly expanding studio, but it was also the New York Liederkranz concert hall that received a serial of paintings relating to the traditional German songs. German Loyd ordered 83 paintings for their noble salons on board of their transatlantic steamer Fürst Bismarck.

We do not really know how he came into contact with Wilhelm von Stieber, but Wagner seemed to represent just the thing the successful industrialist from Roth was looking for when it was about his castle, a painter with a talent to fill huge expansive surfaces with narrative pictures that do not rigidify in the pathos of pictoral display. Wagner was working for the Stieber Family for more than 20 years.

It is true that Wilhelm von Stieber was said to exhibit a parvenu character and Ferdinand Wagner, who every so often decorated himself with a non-existing title of a professor, celebrated extravagant parties and generally loved grand gestures, definitely had something in common with the industrial baron from Roth as an artist prince, once having moved up the career ladder.

Wagner was delivering everything that was considered to be necessary for an upper middle class lifestyle. The spacious quarters in the castle were made for his huge oil paintings in the Venetian or Dutch style. He even became active as an architect in Roth by designing a bridge for the castle park on the side of the so-called works canal, the site where the new production facilities of the Leoni Factory used to be and still are today. He designed a gallery room in the northwestern wing of the castle in the extension of the royal stables for Wilhelm von Stieber’s collection of paintings, a room that can be accessed via the ceremonial hall and which used to be the rooms of the court usher then.

After the death of the lord of the castle, Wagner kept on working for the family and was designed the Stieber Mausoleum in the form of a Monopteros in the middle of the castle park.