Count's Collections

The foundation of the Count’s Collections was laid by Count Francis I zu Erbach-Erbach (1754-1823) with medieval armour, a hunting and natural history collection and valuable antiquities. The collections were continued by his grandson Count Eberhard XV (1818-1884), who also placed new emphasis on furniture and sacred art (see Saint Hubert’s Chapel with the Schöllenbach Altarpiece).

Born with a “great fondness for antiquities”, Count Francis decided to establish a collection of antiquities in the palace in his early youth. On a trip to Italy in 1791, he succeeded in purchasing most of the antiquities still preserved in Erbach today. After his return, his court artist Johann Wilhelm Wendt designed three rooms of the first floor according to antique models: a study and audience chamber with imposing marble portraits of Roman statesmen as well as a small bed chamber, the so-called Etruscan Cabinet, filled with the most important antique vases of his collection.

First Roman Room

According to Count Francis I, the model for this Roman Room was a room in Hadrian's Villa in Rome. It contains Greek and Roman busts as well as small finds, some of which also come from the region.

Foto: Michael Leukel, 2020

Bust of Alexander

The bust of Alexander the Great from the 2nd century AD is the best Roman copy of a Greek original that has come down to us. The general is not portrayed here as a stormy world conqueror, but as a quiet, godlike youth.

Photo: Michael Leukel, 2020

Greek bust of the comedy poet Menander

This bust shows the Greek comedy poet Menander. It is a Roman copy based on a Greek model from the 3rd century BC.

Photo: Michael Leukel, 2020

Emperors' busts in the second Roman Room

The audience chamber is modelled on a room in the Marcellus Theatre in Rome and contains mainly statues of emperors and small finds.

Photo: Michael Leukel, 2020

Francis did not limit his interest to antiquity alone. At the same time, he expanded his ancestors’ collection of weapons, collected armour, stained glass and colossal and abnormal antlers. Even today, his extensive collections of weapons and armour can be seen in an impressive neo-Gothic knights’ hall and a rifle chamber.

The natural history collection of antlers already welcomes visitors to the palace in the vestibule, lines the staircase and unfolds its splendour with particularly impressive specimens in the large stag gallery. The underlying principle of all the collection areas, which Count Francis recorded in the catalogues that have survived to this day, can be described as encyclopaedic. In all parts of the collection, he pursued the goal of preserving history and thus making it tangible for the future.

Vestibule with collection of weapons and antlers

In the entrance hall of Erbach Palace is the collection of abnormal deer antlers. The abnormal growth of the antlers is caused by diseases or injuries.

Photo: Michael Leukel, 2018

Historic Armory

The collection in the armoury goes back to Count Francis I and was expanded over time through acquisitions. It mainly shows hunting weapons, some of them very elaborately and artistically decorated to a high standard.

Photo: Michael Leukel, 2017

Erbach hirschgalerie

The stag gallery was furnished under Eberhard XV and impresses with its wonderful 17th century wooden ceiling, which was brought to Erbach from the Roth monastery and installed around 1863.

Foto: Michael Leukel, 2018

The palace’s former living rooms conceal another impressive collection: from the 16th century onwards, representative ancestral portraits were created, culminating in thirteen Baroque portraits of members of the House of Orange-Nassau, which was related to the Erbach family. The famous Dutch relatives were painted by painters such as Anthonis van Dyck, Gerard van Honthorst, Wybrand de Geest, Michiel Mierevelt and Jan van Ravesteyn and their workshops.

The collection rooms of the late 18th and early 19th century still exist today in an almost unchanged condition. In them, as hardly anywhere else, the concept of a collection of the Age of Enlightenment becomes tangible and is still relevant today in its understanding of history.

Dutsch Paintings in the room of the House of Orange

The Orange Hall, used as a dining room, shows the mixed arrangement of furniture typical of historicism. The paintings document the family connection to the House of Orange-Nassau and thus a dynastic claim.

Photo: Michael Leukel, 2018

Erbach kelchkrater

The collection of antique Greek and Lower Italian vases in the Green Salon dates back to Count Francis I.

Foto: Michael Leukel, 2020

Porcelain figures in the Chinese Room

Although porcelain was one of the favourite collecting areas of the 18th century, in Erbach the collection in the Chinese Room was largely assembled in the 19th century.

Photo: Michael Leukel, 2019