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Magnus Gabriel De la Gardies Venngarn: Herresätet som byggnadsverk och spegelbild
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of the History of Art.
2004 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)Alternative title
Magnus Gabriel De la Gardie´s Venngarn : The Country House as a Building and Mirror Image (English)
Abstract [en]

Starting in about 1640, Sweden experienced a building boom among the nobility lasting up to 1680, when Charles XI initiated a massive withdrawal of Crown fiefs. Based on contemporary Swedish sources, the strategies and ideology behind these large new houses are discussed in connection with questions concerning visual identity – corporate as well as individual. Opinions held in the Swedish debate are compared with the characteristics described by Volker Bauer in his analysis of competing German court ideal types, and are found strikingly reminiscent.

This approach constitutes the framework for a close examination of Venngarn, one of Count Magnus Gabriel De la Gardie´s country houses, rebuilt and considerably enlarged from 1661 and onwards. De la Gardie was Rikskansler, Chancellor of the Realm, a dominating magnate and one of Sweden´s most eager building patrons. The remodelling of Venngarn was begun at a time when major works were in progress at five other estates, at the palace in Stockholm and his father´s burial chapel. Other projects were to follow suite.

At Venngarn the idea of an ideal correspondence between the level of Magnificentia and the individual´s station is expressed by a systematic gradation of the apartments. Another court ideal, that of the prince (or aristocrat) as a disciple of the Muses, was just as befitting an attribute. The most telling example is the 'learned' décor of the chapel. More than fifty emblems, parables and devotional subjects are found to be organized according to a comprehensive programme, combining important tendencies in contemporary Lutheran spirituality, on the one hand themes from Johann Arndt, on the other the dogma of Ordo salutis. A more mundane aspect of aristocratic behaviour was villeggiatura, or the preference for temporary retreats from urban life and public affairs. De la Gardie has left several drafts defining the weekly round of a country life and aiming at an otium, as recommended by Seneca, Cicero and the neo-Stoics. Several circumstances indicate that De la Gardie considered this a component of a true statesman´s life and that Venngarn and his other country houses were to serve such a purpose.

In these and other ways, De la Gardie could be said to have arranged the house at Venngarn as an ideal mirror image of his persona, an image that would testify to his greatness and further his reputation.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Kungl. Vitterhets Historie och Antikvitets Akademien , 2004. , 300 p.
Kungl. Vitterhets-, historie- och antikvitetsakademiens handlingar. Antikvariska serien, ISSN 0083-6761 ; 44
Keyword [en]
Visual identity, country house architecture, emblematic paintings, lutheran iconology, villeggiatura
National Category
Art History
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-68ISBN: 91-7402-336-5OAI: diva2:197068
Public defence
2004-04-02, sal G, Arrheniuslaboratorierna, Svante Arrhenius väg 14-18, Stockholm, 10:00
Available from: 2004-03-11 Created: 2004-03-11Bibliographically approved

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