Photographs by Anna Wiehl and George P. Landow. You may use these images without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the Victorian Web and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite it in a print one.]
The fountain in the woods
Wilhelmina, Margrave and sister of Fredrick the Great, embellished her fantasy parks, the Eremitage and Sanpariel, with two kinds of the grotesque, the first and most obvious being the kind of rough-hewn, uneven, assymetrical rocks with eroded hollow places common in this area — the kind of stone found in natural caves or grottos. The second form of the grotesque, which appears in the fountains consists of strikingly weird assemblages of animal parts, sea griffins with heads of snakes, bodies of cows, and wings of birds. The fish crowning the walls that surround the fountain in the woods have wings, protruding eyeballs, and . . . teeth. The bizarre sea dragon, whose head twists around (grotesquely) so it can serve as a wager spout, has a fish tail, a cow's front legs, and much-too-tiny wings.
The fish quiescent and spouting its stream of water.
Grotesques above and within the walls surrounding the fountains.
Grotesques at other fountains at Eremitage
Left: A somewhat whimsical winged dragon near a small pool. Right: A particularly ugly grotesque dragon at the fountain near the entrance and present souvenir shop.
These rocks, covered with much more lichen than when Wilhelmina designed the Eremitage — and built on the backs of the local farmers, whose heavy taxes paid for her delightful, if expensive, follies. After her death, farmers ripped apart some of the Chinese pagodas and other wooden structures to use for building their barns and houses.
Left: A portal leading to the orchards and car park at the Eremitage. Right: A gap in the rocks leading to the open-air theater at Sanpariel.
- Grotesques in Victorian ironwork
- John Ruskin on Fantasy and the Grotesque in Art and Literature
- Ruskin's Symbolical Grotesque
Last modified 2 July 2013