Schloss Favorite is a palace on the outskirts of Rastatt-Förch in Baden-Württemberg, Germany. Schloss Favorite Rastatt is the oldest German “porcelain palace” and the only one to survive almost unchanged to this day. Its opulent interiors, extensive collections and idyllic setting lend it Europe-wide significance.
Built by Johann Michael Ludwig Rohrer between 1710 and 1730, it was created as a hunting lodge and maison de plaisance (pleasure palace) for Margravine Sibylla Augusta, the widow of Louis William, Margrave of Baden-Baden (Türkenlouis). It was only used for several weeks per year as a summer residence, and it is not far from Schloss Rastatt.
Schloss Favorite houses a large collection of Chinese porcelain, black lacquerwork and Schwartz Porcelain. It is the oldest of the German so-called “porcelain palaces”, and the only one to survive intact to this day.
Taking seriously the Margrave’s instruction to her to “Take the land and the people—like a mother—into your tutelage,” Sibylla Augusta embraced the responsibilities of her position while undertaking the restoration of the residential palace in Rastatt. She also oversaw the construction of Schloss Favorite, an hour away by coach. Designed by architect Johann Michael Ludwig Rohrer (1683–1732) and built between 1710 and 1727, the castle was intended as a summer residence and a hunting lodge. Sited within the expansive grounds used by the late Margrave, the property was originally bordered by French-style gardens with orangeries. The axially symmetrical layout, in accordance with the Baroque master plan, is reflected today in the English-style landscape park created in 1788.
The dazzling interiors were appointed, according to Sibylla’s wishes, by Parisian interior designer Franz Pfleger. In all there are forty-five rooms with thirty-nine open to the public, plus a two-story tiled Sala Terrena central to the palace; its accessibility to the garden provided shade for royal guests in the summer. Explains Dr. Petra Pechacek, a curator for the State Palaces and Gardens Baden-Württemberg, “[The] inventory originated fifty years after the Margravine’s death…[so] we can only guess that when Schloss Favorite was at its peak there were probably eight rooms that were filled with porcelain and on display for all of Sibylla’s guests.” Today, most of the 1,500-pieces are shown under glass on the upper floors. The 500-piece glass collection, also on the upper floors, represents Bohemian glass and decoration at the height of its artistry.
The Florentine Cabinet is especially remarkable for its 750 picture panels executed in commesso, a technique that uses cut stones, not unlike mosaic, to create a style of marquetry. These were produced in Florence following Sibylla Augusta’s trip to Italy in 1719. The Florentine Cabinet is flawlessly intact and has the status of being the only room of its kind in Europe. The Floral room is embellished with papier-mâché wall columns into which silk floral sprays have been worked. Paintings create the illusion that porcelain and stoneware adorn the mantelpieces and a fresco depicts cherubs throwing Asian porcelain.
No expense was spared on the palace interiors, which are replete with all forms of 18th century craftsmanship: colorful scagliola floors made from imitation marble, walls with faience tiles, ceilings adorned with plasterwork and frescoes, sumptuous embroidered tapestries and priceless furniture. As well as demonstrating Sibylla Augusta’s exquisite taste, this opulence served to portray her as a refined and cultured ruler.
Even though now shown with minimum porcelain, glass, and furnishings, the interiors are breathtaking. Ornate plasterwork and frescoes adorn ceilings; gilt strapwork on walls harmonize with elaborate furniture, lacquer, ceramics, and tapestries; and floors are of marquetry or of colorful, inlaid Scagliola. Each room has its individualized splendor. Prince Bernhard of Baden, a descendant of Sibylla Augusta, describes Schloss Favorite as “embodying the character, style, and taste” of his famous ancestor. “Every detail of the rich interior has a special nuance and her love for everything Oriental is tastefully integrated. The palace exhibits an elegant rather than the over-exuberant Baroque splendor, which was common at that time.”
To accompany the magnificent décor, Sibylla Augusta amassed an unparalleled collection of Asian and European porcelain, glass and faience – earning the title “porcelain palace”. Much admired by her contemporaries, the Margravine’s astonishing hoard survives to this day. It is now the world’s largest collection of early Meissen porcelain. Favorite Palace also offers a dazzling display of Chinoiserie in all its forms. Textiles, lacquer and ceramics bear witness to early 18th century Europe’s penchant for all things Asian.
The Porcelain Palace (Rastatt Favorite Palace) in Rastatt-Förch, Germany, is open seasonally from March through mid-November. Guided tours are in German with translated text.