18th century architecture

7

The Chinese Palace in Oranienbaum

near St Petersburg, Russia

The first major building project to be ordered by Catherine the Great, the Chinese Palace in Oranienbaum was built by Antonio Rinaldi between 1762 and 1768. The building is considered one of the finest examples of rococo in Russia.

From the outside, the palace is a relatively simple building, single-storey except for the small central pavilion, painted in a mellow combination of ochre and yellow. The seventeen rooms inside, decorated by Rinaldi and other leading artists and craftsmen of the day, feature pink, blue and green scagliola, painted silks, and intricate stucco work. 

Among the highlights of the Chinese Palace interiors are the Glass Beaded Salon, the walls of which are hung with 12 panels of richly coloured tapestries depicting exotic birds and fauna. The fine white glass beads that form the backdrop of the tapestries give the whole room a diaphanous, shimmering quality that was designed to be particularly effective in the glowing twighlight of the White Nights. 

The interiors of the Chinese Palace are particularly prized because they have survived almost completely intact since Catherine’s reign.

Source: http://www.visit-saint-petersburg.ru/oranienbaum/

10

Sans, souci.

Sanssouci is the former summer palace of Frederick the Great, King of Prussia, in Potsdam, near Berlin. 

The palace’s name emphasises this; it is a French phrase (sans souci), which translates as “without concerns”, meaning “without worries” or “carefree”, symbolising that the palace was a place for relaxation.

Sanssouci is little more than a large, single-story villa, containing just ten principal rooms. The influence of King Frederick’s personal taste in the design and decoration of the palace was so great that its style is characterised as “Frederician Rococo”.

Although Frederick the Great is best remembered as a military genius, in his youth he was more interested in music and philosophy than the art of war. He was a patron of music as well as a gifted musician who played the transverse flute. He composed 100 sonatas for the flute as well as four symphonies.

Frederick aspired to be a Platonic philosopher king like the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius. He stood close to the French Enlightenment, corresponding with some of its key figures, such as Voltaire, whom he asked in 1750 to come to live with him. 

The correspondence between Frederick and Voltaire, which spanned almost 50 years, was marked by mutual intellectual fascination. In person, however, their friendship was often contentious, as Voltaire abhorred Frederick’s militarism. Voltaire and Frederick resumed their correspondence and eventually aired their mutual recriminations, to end as friends once more.

When Voltaire lived in Sanssouci he occupied The Voltaire Room. It is remarkable for its decoration: on a yellow lacquered wall panel were superimposed, colourful, richly adorned wood carvings. Apes, parrots, cranes, storks, fruits, flowers, garlands gave the room a cheerful and natural character.

Historians disagree on the nature of Frederick’s sexuality. In 2011, an unpublished erotic poem by Frederick was discovered among his letters.  After one particular defeat on the battlefield he wrote: “Fortune has it in for me; she is a woman, and I am not that way inclined.” Although he was married, he had no children and only visited his wife formally once a year. The queen was never invited to stay in Sanssouci. 

Near the end of his life Frederick grew increasingly solitary, preferring instead the company of his pet Italian greyhounds, whom he referred to as his ‘marquises de Pompadour’ as a jibe at the French royal mistress.

Frederick II died in an armchair in his study in the palace of Sanssouci on 17 August 1786, aged 74. He left instructions that he should be buried next to his greyhounds on the vineyard terrace in Sanssouci.

3

The Shrine of Our Lady of Las Lajas is a Roman Catholic cathedral and basilica church dedicated to the worship and veneration of Our Lady of Las Lajas Ipiales. It is located in southern Colombia and has been a tourism and pilgrimage destination since the eighteenth century. The Spanish Franciscan Juan de Santa Gertrudis (1724–1799) mentions the sanctuary in Book III, Part 2, of his four volume chronicle of his 1756–62 journey in the south portion of the Kingdom of New Granada (titled “Wonders of Nature”). This is possibly the oldest reference to its existence.

The current church was built between January 1, 1916 and August 20, 1949, with donations from local churchgoers. It rises 100 metres (330 ft) high from the bottom of the canyon and is connected to the opposite side of the canyon by a 50 metres (160 ft) tall bridge.