244ff. From Frederick to Ferdinand
Open since 5 October 2022
The new permanent exhibition “244ff. From Frederick to Ferdinand” in the historical library of Bad Homburg Palace takes visitors back to the time of the Hessian landgraves. The selected exhibits trace an arc from the first regent of the Landgraviate of Hesse-Homburg to the last representative of the dynasty. The latter formed a collateral line of the House of Hesse and its territory was initially only a partial sovereignty born of financial hardship, which lasted from 1622 to 1866 and did not attain full sovereignty until late. The State Castles and Gardens of Hesse own thousands of objects from this 244-year era. Selected individual objects are presented in the library, which not least reveal many biographical details of the former owners. They tell the story of everyday life and the history of rule.
Never before has the public been so close to the builder of the residential palace of Hesse-Homburg, Landgrave Frederick II (1633-1708). The permanent exhibition brings together three mementos of him in one room for the first time: They are a life mask (copy) of the circa 50-year-old, his bronze bust with Baroque pose designed by Andreas Schlüter, Prussia’s architect and sculptor, and the mechanical replacement of the lower right leg lost in the war. The “silver leg” with straps, designed by palace master builder Paul Andrich, is a step forward in the treatment of war-disabled persons. Another prosthesis for Frederick II, but only the wooden construction, is preserved at Burgk Castle in Thuringia.
A special experience is the splendid top secretary, which presumably came to the palace for Landgrave Frederick III Jacob (1673-1746). A three-and-a-half-minute film shows the piece of furniture, better known in Bad Homburg as the “Hundertfächerschrank” (Hundred-Compartment Cupboard), in detail and counts up whether the number of compartments of the secretary confirm its name.
Digital and Analogue Highlights
The newly designed adjoining ancestral gallery offers many an unknown painting and brings together many personalities of the landgravial period in one space. Among them is the portrait of Landgrave Philip August of Hesse-Homburg by Benjamin Heinrich Orth (1846), on loan from the Landesmuseum Mainz, or the depiction of the youthful Landgrave Frederick V of Hesse-Homburg by an unknown artist (around 1760) with Homburg Palace in the background.
A highlight is the family portrait of Landgrave Frederick II of Hesse-Homburg. As far as is known, the large-format oil painting from the late 17th century shows the prince with his second wife, Princess Luise Elisabeth of Courland, and probably their children who were alive at the time. In the lower right half of the painting, however, it probably also presents the third wife, Countess Sophie Sybille of Leiningen-Westerburg-Oberbronn. Her portrait was painted by an unknown artist in front of the family members standing behind her. To this day, opinions differ as to why it was added to this ultimately unbalanced composition. A joint representation is unusual. The painting is on permanent loan from the Hessische Hausstiftung, as are other works in the ancestral gallery.
A digital media station makes it possible to call up the biography of the sitter, either by clicking on a picture or on their name in the family tree, in German or English. In the library, the mediation is analogue, in keeping with the spirit of the space: The books placed on writing desks in front of the shelves describe individual exhibits and recount the episodes from the history of the Landgraviate that are connected to them.
The exhibition "244ff. - From Frederick to Ferdinand" can be visited individually. The ticket costs 4 EUR per person. Combined tickets are available in conjunction with guided tours of the English Wing and the Imperial Rooms.