A suite of bookcases from the Majoratspalais, Vienna
The present lots (353-356) were originally designed as part of the furnishing of the library of the Liechtenstein palace in the Herrengasse. Between 1788 and 1792, Fürst Alois I commissioned two consecutive architects, Joseph Meissl der Ältere (1758-1816) and his nephew Joseph Hardtmuth (1758-1816), to modernize the partly medieval palace. In its stead came a grand palace complex, encompassing the offices, stables, library and living quarters of the family. The building fulfilled an important representative function, and the design of the library was no exception to this prerequisite. The generously proportioned library hall, with its tripartite nave measuring 56 meters in length, held no less than 100.000 volumes, which made it one of the largest libraries of Vienna, surpassed only by the Royal and University libraries. The present bookcases retain the original colour scheme of the interior, in which yellow columns harmonized with the green and gilt furniture. In this way, the furniture formed an integral part of Hardtmuth's architectural plan. We know these details through photographs, and watercolours dating from the late 1830's.
By 1847, when the palace in the Bankgasse had been fully modernized, the Liechtenstein family had lost all interest in the Herrengasse building complex. Parts of it had already been sold off, and the riding school was transformed into the famous Bösendorfersaal, which formed the centre of the Viennese musical scene until, in 1913, it was demolished, along with the rest of this masterpiece of early Austrian classicism.
The only elements of the palace to survive the demolition were pieces of furniture, especially the furnishings of the library. These were transferred to the Garden Palace in the Rossau in Vienna. Gustav Ritter von Neumann artfully adapted the bookcases to their new location. Neumann (1859-1928) was the son of the knighted court architect Franz Neumann, and was taken into the service of the Liechtenstein family straight after his education as an architect. He was soon promoted to Oberbaurat, designing villas, government buildings, and specializing in church architecture. Adapting the present bookcases to fit the three rooms housing the Liechtenstein library after their move was Neumann's only project of interior design. The bookcases survived in this form until the present day. In the 20th century, they were in use in the Stadtpalais Liechtenstein in the Bankgasse.
Cf. Dr. Johann Kräftner, Neoclassisim and Biedermeier, Prag, 2010.
THE BASES LATE 18TH CENTURY, THE SUPERSTRUCTURES FIRST QUARTER 20TH CENTURY
A pair of Austrian parcel-gilt and marbleized bookcases
The bases late 18th century, the superstructures first quarter 20th century
The rectangular acanthus-carved cornice above a panelled frieze carved with Vitruvian scrolls, above a glazed door flanked by pilasters applied with foliage and surmounted by a Corinthian capital, enclosing a green-painted interior with adjustable shelves, above a pair of panelled doors enclosing a plain interior with shelves, numbered 1 and 2, branded with the Liechtenstein monogram
308 cm. high x 190 cm. wide x 78 cm. deep (2)
Majoratspalais in the Herrengasse, Vienna
Gartenpalais in der Rossau, Vienna, 1913
Stadtpalais Liechtenstein, Bankgasse, Vienna