Upper Belvedere Palace

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Johann Lukas von Hildebrandt, Upper Belvedere Palace, 1721 - 1724 

The Belvedere Palaces of Vienna appear to have been pulled off the page of a fairy tale book and plopped onto a gorgeous property complete with a reflection pool and immense garden. However, this is not the case, no matter how convinced your imagination may be. The structures were actually crafted by Austrian Rococo Architect, Johann Lukas von Hildebrandt. 

Hildebrandt, a sought after architect for the upper class, showed off his architectural talents in the design and construction of multiple palaces. Commissioned by Prince Eugene of Savoy, who had met Hildebrandt while teaching civil and military engineering in Piedmont and had taken a liking to the architect, construction of the two palaces, Lower and Upper Belvedere, began in 1713. The two palaces are masterpieces of the Rococo period, displaying ornate and intricate details both inside and out. Upper Belvedere highlights Hildebrandt’s talent to put as much detail into the outside of a structure as the inside -  and highlights the cohesion Hildebrandt creates by doing so. Natural curves, meticulous detail, soft colors, sculptures that appear to be holding up the walls of the palace, and gold appear both inside and out. 

Hildebrandt’s use of gold especially stands out to me. While the majority of the Rococo architects displayed gold on almost every facade in their structures, Hildebrandt used it sparingly to make it capture the eye. The front façade of the palace only contains one large exhibit of gold, so when you look at the front, your eye is instantly drawn to the gold crest. On the inside, Hildebrandt employed the same method to make the gold details distinct. Many halls and rooms are meticulously designed in white or other pastel colors, making a more striking contrast between those rooms and the rooms and halls of gold. 

Hildebrandt separated himself from other Rococo architects through the method of using gold sparingly. Immanuel Kant explains that, “Enlightenment is man’s leaving his self-caused immaturity. Immaturity is the incapacity to use one’s intelligence without the guidance of another… Have the courage to use your own intelligence! Is therefore the motto of the enlightenment.” Hildebrandt followed this explanation of the enlightenment in two ways. First, by joining the movement of the Rococo artists and architects; and second, by advancing his own view of Rococo architecture. Hildebrandt ventured from the other architects who were solely using gold as a method of cohesion in their buildings, and he found other ways to create a sense of cohesion in his magnificent palaces. 




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