Ludwigsburg Residential Palace

One of the largest baroque buildings in Germany to survive in its original condition, Ludwigsburg Residential Palace, near Stuttgart, was built between 1704 and 1733 by Duke Eberhard Ludwig as a refuge for himself & his mistress, Wilhelmine von Grävenitz. His cousin Carl Alexander, who succeeded him as the next Duke of Württemberg, cared more for the military than for architecture, but Carl Eugen, who took over the duchy after his father died, completed the still-unfinished interior of the palace, adding playful rococo elements to the lavish baroque style. In the early 19th century, a new splendour took hold of Ludwigsburg, a royal palace by that time, when King Friedrich I, Carl Eugen’s nephew, had many rooms luxuriously updated in neoclassicist style.

The ancestral portrait gallery at Ludwigsburg Residential Palace
The ancestral portrait gallery

The building comprises four wings arranged in a rectangle around a central courtyard. In the north wing, the palace’s oldest part, the elaborately decorated small marble hall is considered a highlight of baroque interior design. The south wing houses Carl Eugen’s apartment and, adjacent to the elegant neoclassicist marble hall, on its west & east sides, the apartments of King Friedrich & Queen Charlotte, which both exude a dignified noblesse. Other highlights are the imposing 80-m-long ancestral portrait gallery, the chapel, unusually opulent for a Protestant church, and the theatre in the east wing, which dates from 1758. In season, one-hour guided tours in German leave every half hour; there are English tours at 1¼ p.m. and 3¼ p.m. Of further interest are the ceramics museum & the fashion museum.

Fine Art

The Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp

Last September, the Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp, one of Belgium’s most prestigious & important museums, reopened after an 11-year closure. During this period, the 19th-century building was renovated and augmented by an entirely new museum, built within the four courtyards of the old structure, invisible from the outside. The original museum was beautifully restored to its old grandeur, and the new one is of ethereal elegance. The collection spans seven centuries, from Flemish Primitives to expressionists, featuring works by artists such as Jan van Eyck, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Peter Paul Rubens, Anthony van Dyck, and James Ensor, the greatest Belgian modernist.

Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp
The Salon, crammed with 19th-century art

Collection highlights include Van Eyck’s Saint Barbara, Madonna Surrounded by Seraphim and Cherubim by Jean Fouquet, starring French King Charles VII’s busty mistress Agnès Sorel as the Virgin Mary, Hans Memling’s portraits of Bernardo Bembo and God the Father, The Prodigal Son and The Adoration of the Magi by Rubens, Alexandre Cabanel’s painting of Cleopatra conducting research on snake venoms, The Oyster Eater and The Intrigue by James Ensor, Rik Wouters’ Woman Ironing, reclining-nude champion Amedeo Modigliani’s Seated Nude, not his best work by the way, Spring by Jean Brusselmans, René Magritte’s The Sixteenth of September, The Last Day by Pierre Alechinsky, and Günther Uecker’s Dark Field.

Public Transport

The London Transport Museum

There are few things more iconic to the city of London than its world-famous open-backed double-decker buses, resplendent in red livery. Built between 1954 and 1968, these Routemasters were in regular service for over half a century, until they were replaced with low-floor buses. If you want to jump on a Routemaster these days, the place to go is the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden, which is one of the coolest public transport museums in Europe. Some older double-deck vehicles on display are an 1882 horse-drawn tram, a horse omnibus with two lengthwise rooftop seats from around the same time, and a 1914 B-type bus, from the first mass-produced motor-bus series in the world.

London Transport Museum
1938 Tube stock, a 1963 Routemaster & a 1954 RT-type bus

London is home to the world’s first underground railway, which opened in 1863. Among the Tube highlights are an A-class steam locomotive from 1866, in use until the electrification of the Circle line in 1905, a windowless deep-level coach from 1890, and a 1938-stock motor car, the first Tube train to have its motors & electrical equipment housed beneath the floor. The presentation also looks at the growth of London after the railways were extended further out from the city centre, and at the role London’s transport system & its staff played in keeping the city moving through both world wars. A special section is dedicated to London’s transport design heritage, including the Tube map, signage & posters.

Previous Newsletter Articles

Vermeer at the Rijksmuseum

Johannes Vermeer left a remarkably small oeuvre of 36 paintings. The largest ever Vermeer retrospective, at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, shows fully 28 of them and is almost surely never to be replicated.

A Fancy Canal House in Amsterdam

Willet-Holthuysen House in Amsterdam is probably the most interesting canal house that is open to visitors. Its interior is an eclectic mix of 19th-century revival styles, of which Louis-XVI is dominant.

The National Maritime Museum

The Netherlands is traditionally a seafaring nation. The National Maritime Museum in Amsterdam shows how the country became linked to the sea, and explores the age-old relationship between the harbour & the city.

An overview of all previously published articles can be found in Pinnable’s newsletter archive.