Stefan Koppelkamm: The Imaginary Orient
Exotic Buildings of the 18th and 19th Centuries in Europe.
1952 Seiten mit 280 Abbildungen, Text in deutscher Sprache, 30,5 x 25,3 cm, Stuttgart 2015, gebunden
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In the 18th century the idea of the landscape garden, which had originated in England, spread all over Europe. The geometry of the Baroque park was abandoned in favour of a natural design. At the same time the garden became the land of illusion: Chinese pagodas, Egyptian tombs, and Turkish mosques, along with Gothic stables and Greek and Roman temples, formed a miniature world in which distance mingled with the past. The keen interest in a fairy-tale China, which was manifested not only in the gardens but also in the chinoiseries of the Rococo, abated in the 19th century. The increasing expansion of the European colonial powers was reflected in new exotic fashions. While in England it was primarily the conquest of the Indian subcontinent that captured the imagination, for France the occupation of Algiers triggered an Orient-inspired fashion that spread from Paris to encompass the entire Continent, and found its expression in paintings, novels, operas, and buildings. This Orient, which could not be clearly defined geographically, was characterized by Islamic culture: It extendedaround the Mediterranean Sea from Constantinople to Granada. There, it was the Alhambra that fascinated writers and architects. The Islamic styles seemed especially appropriatefor buildings of a secular and cheerful character . In contrast to ancient Egyptian building forms, which, being severe and monumental, were preferably used for cemetery buildings, prisons or libraries, they promised earthly sensuous pleasures. The promise of happiness associated with an Orient staged by architectural means was intended to guarantee the commercial success of coffeehouses and music halls, amusement parks, and steam baths. But even extravagant summer residences and middle-class villas were often built in faux-Oriental styles: In Brighton, the Prince Regent George (George IV after 1820) built himself an Indian palace; in Bad Cannstatt near Stuttgart, a moorish refuge was erected for Württembergs King Wilhelm I; and the French town of Tourcoing was the site of the Palais du Congo, a bombastic villa in the Indian Moghul style that belonged to a wealthy perfume and soap manufacturer.