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Hunting palace and summer residence with glorious views

Solitude Palace

Nicolas Guibal (1725–1784), portrait circa 1750. Image: Wikipedia, in the public domain
THE DUKE'S "PREMIER PEINTRE"

NICOLAS GUIBAL

A favorite of Duke Carl Eugen von Württemberg: Nicolas Guibal (1725–1784). The "first court painter" lastingly characterized the ducal palaces in Württemberg with his French-Classic style, including Solitude Palace.

HOW DOES A FRENCHMAN FAIR IN STUTTGART?

Nicolas grew up in Lunéville, the son of French sculptor Barthélemy Guibal. In 1749, he came to Stuttgart, to the court of Württemberg. Here, Duke Carl Eugen recognized the young Frenchman's potential. Among his first tasks was organizing court festivals and designing theater decorations. He increasingly enjoyed the favor of the duke and became his advisor in artistic matters, which is one of the reasons why he went to Rome on the duke's stipend.

Solitude Palace, the Marble Hall. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Günther Bayerl

Classical elements in the Marble Hall: antique pillars.

WHAT DID GUIBAL DO IN ROME?

Another reason for spending five years in Rome: the period of transition between magnificent Rococo and early Classicism. Guibal was intended to adapt the new style for implementation at the court of Württemberg. He worked with A. R. Mengs, the founder of Classicism. His return to straight lines and defined shapes had a lasting influence on Guibal. On a trip to Italy in 1753, Carl Eugen assessed his protégé's progress. He was satisfied; so satisfied that he tripled his annual stipend.

Solitude Palace. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Günther Bayerl

Solitude Palace: the loveliest example of southern German late Rococo in transition to Classicism.

WHAT IS A "PREMIER PEINTRE"?

After his return from Rome, the duke named Guibal his "premier peintre," the first painter at the ducal court. His tasks were diverse, including responsibility for the interior decor of Solitude Palace—a building with an interior that unites the style of Rococo and early Classicism. With the benefit of hindsight, it is clear that Guibal's works represented the time of stylistic transition in which he lived.

Schwetzingen Palace and Gardens, ceiling painting in the bath house. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Bernd Hauser

Guibal's ceiling painting in the bath house of Schwetzingen.

WHERE CAN THE PAINTER'S WORKS BE VIEWED TODAY?

In his more productive period, Guibal created many monumental ceiling paintings. An important work is the central ceiling painting in the White Hall of Solitude Palace. It depicted Duke Carl Eugen as a successful ruler. Another ceiling painting is found in the bath house of the palace garden of Schwetzingen. It depicts the subject, "Aurora drives away the night." The illusion of the morning sky, visible on the upward opening ceiling makes this painting especially breathtaking.

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