Located next to the Hercules Fountain in Maximilianstraße, the Schaezlerpalais is Augsburg's most important and best-preserved private residential and commercial building of the 18th century. This is not the only reason why this rococo gem is a must-see for anyone visiting Augsburg. The bourgeois palace, completed in 1770, also houses numerous collections of paintings and sights.
For example, the first floor houses the Deutsche Barockgalerie (German Baroque Gallery) and an impressive enfilade (baroque suite of rooms) of more than 100 metres, which finally leads into the famous Rokoko-Festsaal (Rococo ballroom).
On the second floor of the building, the Kunstsammlungen und Museen Augsburg present special exhibitions on a wide range of themes several times a year, in addition to the paintings of the Karl und Magdalene Haberstock-Stiftung (Karl and Magdalene Haberstock Foundation).
Part of the Sammlung Steiner (Steiner Collection), an extensive collection of reverse glass paintings from the 18th century, can be admired on the ground floor of the Schaezlerpalais. It is directly adjacent to the Café and Liebertzimmer (Liebert Room), which invite visitors to linger.
The palace's rococo garden, which was designed in 2005 according to historical findings, is a cherished recreational spot in the city centre that is also open to anyone not visiting the museum.
In addition, the ticket of the Schaezlerpalais provides access to the Staatsgalerie Alte Meister in the Katharinenkirche (State Gallery in the St. Catherines Monastery), a branch gallery of the Pinakotheken. It contains paintings from the Augsburg and Swabian schools of the late Middle Ages and the early Renaissance, the great period of Augsburg painting.
Today's Schaezlerpalais stands on the site of an older patrician house from the late Middle Ages, in which the later wife of Archduke Ferdinand of Austria, the bourgeois Philippine Welser (1527-1580) was born. The Augsburg banker Benedikt Adam Liebert v. Liebenhofen (1730-1810) acquired this building in 1764, had it demolished and erected the present building from 1765.
Liebert engaged the Munich court architect Karl Albert von Lespilliez (1723-1796) to plan the new residential and commercial building. He entrusted the construction to the local court mason Johann Gottfried Stumpe (1708-1777) in accordance with the regulations in force in Augsburg. Liebert engaged the best craftsmen and artists to decorate the building, including Gregorio Guglielmi (1714-1773), who came from Rome and had previously worked in Vienna, and who was responsible for the ceiling painting in the banqueting hall. The result was the most brilliant Augsburg town house of the 18th century. After Liebert's death, the palace passed into the possession of his son-in-law Johann Lorenz Baron von Schaezler (1762-1826). It remained in the family until its descendants donated it to the city of Augsburg in 1958.
As early as December 1945, however, the house was used as a museum, initially with special exhibitions and from 1951 with presentations of the municipal collection. Since 1970, it has housed the German Baroque Gallery, the concept of which was revised in 2004-06 on the occasion of the renovation of the entire building complex.
The impressive ballroom with its ceiling painting is the centrepiece of the Schaezlerpalais, which was built in 1765-70. A large part of the room's surfaces is still original, which makes the hall an unique document of southern German rococo. Its magnificent décor was realised by well-known artists of the time. In 1767, for example, Gregorio Guglielmi (1714-1773) realised the expansive fresco. It shows an allegory of the trade connecting the continents, which is dominated by Europe. With its light colours, the fresco gives the impression of opening up to the sky and thus expanding the space, which is also suggested to the viewer by the large number of windows. The colourfulness is also reminiscent of Venetian frescoes. The ceiling painting is embedded in the grandiose stucco decoration by the brothers Franz-Xaver (1735-1803) and Simpert Feichtmayr (1732-1806). The carvings on mirrors, walls and furniture were executed by Placidus Verhelst (1727-1778). The theme of world allegory continues on the walls of the hall. Above the doors, four supraports depicting flora and fauna of the world's parts are embedded in the stucco decoration, while the decorations above the mirrors on the narrow sides refer to the four seasons. On the other hand, the mirror crowns on the long sides contain the signs of the zodiac as a reference to the course of the stars through the year.
In 1770, the banqueting hall was ceremonially inaugurated by the Austrian Archduchess Maria Antonia of Habsburg-Lorraine, who also stopped off in Augsburg on her journey to Versailles for the official wedding to the future French King Louis XVI.
Some parts of the historical furnishings of the Schaezlerpalais have been preserved. In addition to the parquet flooring made of various woods and the lambrie, the door leaves, several chandeliers and the ornate wall panelling of the three rooms facing the Maximilianstraße on the first floor, are among the early furnishings.
Particularly noteworthy here are the supraports, those 67 landscape-format paintings by Joseph Christ (1731-1788), 33 of which still hang above each of the double doors in the living rooms of the Palais. They depict episodes from Ovid's Metamorphoses. Each painting is in just one shade, either red, green, blue or yellow, and picks up the colour of the silk wallpaper in the rooms, which is now lost. To give an impression of the historical colour climate, the walls were painted in 2005 in the tones specified by the supraports. Through an initiative of the Altaugsburg Society, all paintings on the first floor were restored and fitted with a decorative frame from 2015.
Another significant piece of furnishings can be found in the former dining room. The grandfather clock by David Roentgen from Neuwied, dating from around 1785, was already in the house in the early 19th century, was sold after 1850 and returned to the Schaezlerpalais in 2006 as a permanent loan from the Ernst von Siemens Art Foundation.
Despite its division into thematic groups, the German Baroque Gallery on the first floor of the Schaezlerpalais presents itself as a coherent unit that presents the pezzi grossi of Baroque and Rococo painting in a concentrated form and thus pays tribute to the special achievements of 17th and 18th century painting. The city was a style-forming centre of the arts during this period and the German Rococo was therefore once also referred to as the "Augsburg taste".
Around one hundred masterpieces from the collection of the City of Augsburg and various lenders are brought together in the German Baroque Gallery. The focus of the selection is on the works of painters active in Augsburg. Among the best of their guild were Josef Heintz, Matthäus Gundelach, Johann König and Johann Georg Bergmüller, Johann Evangelist Holzer and Matthäus Günther. While the paintings by Johann Heinrich Schönfeld and the circle of artists of the early Augsburg Academy give an impression of High Baroque painting, the works by Johann Georg Bergmüller and his pupils Holzer and Günther trace the development towards Rococo painting. Its conclusion can be traced in works by Anton Graff, Anton Raffael Mengs and Heinrich Friedrich Füger, for example.
Together with paintings by Paulo Veronese, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, Antonius van Dyck, Jacob Ruisdael and Lukas Cranach the Elder, among others, the City of Augsburg received the estate of the Augsburg-born art dealer Karl Haberstock (1878-1956) and his wife Magdalene (+1983) in 1983, including their library and valuable archival materials. Since then, the extraordinary collection of paintings with around 40 masterpieces of European painting has been presented in the Schaezlerpalais.
Since the American historian Jonathan Petropoulos criticised the City of Augsburg's handling of the Karl and Magdalene Haberstock Foundation in 2000, the Kunstsammlungen have been endeavouring to scientifically process the estate of the art dealer who, among other things, also sold to Nazi celebrities and acted as a buyer for the "Linz Museum" planned by Hitler. The results of this project, which plays a pioneering role for provenance research at German museums, were published in 2008 in the book "Karl Haberstock Umstrittener Kunsthändler und Mäzen".
In the 18th century, Augsburg was one of the centres of the art of reverse glass painting. Numerous, mostly small-format works were created here using this technique, which was widespread throughout Europe at the time. Their motifs were predominantly religious in content. However, the oeuvre of the artists, most of whom are not known by name, also includes allegories, landscape and city vedutas as well as mythological themes. Printed works served as models for these depictions. In the exhibition room on the ground floor of the Schaezlerpalais, a selection of works from the extensive collection of Wolfgang and Gisela Steiner is permanently on display, which, in addition to reverse paintings on glass from Augsburg, also includes works from Tyrol, South Tyrol, Northern Bohemia, Franconia, Veneto, Naples, England and the Netherlands.
The garden of the Schaezlerpalais, like the palace itself, is one of the few remnants of Augsburg's 18th-century urban landscape. Since its reconstruction in 2005, it once again presents itself as a typical, albeit late, private garden of a city palace, as was frequently encountered at the time of its creation. On the south side of the palace, the almost square garden extends as a quadrangle with a central fountain. The building and the garden still form an architectural unit today, as the hall with the arcade on the ground floor and the garden are axially aligned. The present arcade was probably closed with large French doors and was originally used as an orangery and greenhouse.
The present planting dates back to a cadastral sheet and garden archaeological investigations. Four boxwood bordered garden compartments show lawns with asymmetrical meandering paths. Small-crowned trees - today Kornell cherries - are set into the lawns. After reconstruction, the outer walls were again decorated with espalier fruit trees.
Today, the garden of the Schaezlerpalais is accessible to everyone and can be used for many purposes. It is an ideal place to relax, but also forms a grandiose backdrop for wedding receptions and garden parties.
Since spring 2013, the former chicken house in the garden of the Schaezlerpalais has new inhabitants: a bee colony with up to 60,000 bees in summer has moved into the upper floor and now produces plenty of honey. Bees feel very much at home in the city, where temperatures are about 3 degrees warmer, there is less wind and there is more pollen (nectar and pollen) from March to October than in the countryside. The honey yield of 50-70 kg per colony is therefore about twice as high as in the countryside. The Schaezler bees of city beekeeper Christoph Mayer fly to flowers and trees within a radius of 2-3 km for their honey.
The gallery, which was set up in 1835 in the church of the dissolved St. Catherine's Monastery, shows one hundred works of Swabian and Augsburg painting created between 1450 and 1550, including numerous civic donations from the churches and monasteries of the former imperial city. First and foremost is the sequence of paintings of Roman basilicas by Hans Holbein the Elder and Hans Burgkmair, which was created for the chapter house of St. Catherine's Monastery - a high point of Old German painting. Portraits of outstanding personalities, such as Albrecht Dürer's portrait of Jakob Fugger the Rich or Christoph Amberger's portraits of Peutinger, bring the history of the city to life.
Loans from the city of Augsburg, such as Lucas Cranach the Elder's "Samson and Delila" from the old town hall, as well as from church and private sources round off the state collection of paintings.