Benecke von Gröditzberg Wilhelm Christian , , 1779 - 1860 /  ,   - Gröditzberg

W. Ch. Benecke, a fragment of Franz Krüger's painting depicting Benecke with his family

Wilhelm Christian Benecke von Gröditzberg (1779 - 1860)

Ch. W. Benecke was born in Frankfurt am Oder. He was one of the richest Prussian merchants and bankers. He owned a cobalt mine in Norway and numerous estates, among others some tenement-houses in Berlin and the island of Pichelwerder. Applying for a title of nobility in 1823 he acquired an estate in Gröditzberg in Silesia including a baroque palace and ruins of a medieval castle of Gröditzberg. The palace was made his summer residence (as he lived in Berlin), while a small museum was arranged in the restored castle. A title of nobility was granted to him in 1829.

Duration of this collection in Silesia: 1829 - 1894
Description of the collection:

In 1829 Ch. W. Benecke acquired from an unidentified Jew from Strasbourg for the sum of 1500 talers a collection of stained-glass. They were used for decorating various rooms in the castle, the palace, in the sighting tower, as well as in a small church nearby. Benecke was most probably unaware that the collection used to belong to Johann Martin Usteri (who died in 1827), a renowned Swiss poet. Counting 156 pieces of stained-glass and considered today one of the most important in Europe, the collection consisted solely of the Swiss works made from the end of 15th till the beginning of 18th century. The most valuable groups in the collection are works of Lucas Zeiner (around 1450 - before 1519), including 8 pieces from the churches of Joannites in Wald and Bubikon, 6 stained-glass windows from the refectory of the Augustinian monastery in Zurich made in 1519, panels from the town hall in Lachen and works of Josias Murer. Around mid-19th century the collection was divided. In 1854, while Benecke was still alive, 23 stained-glass panels were moved under unknown circumstances to Charlottenburg, and then further to England. In February 1894 the new owner of Gröditzberg Leo Henckel von Donnersmarck sold 18 pieces in the auction house of J. Grünfelda in Berlin (11 were acquired for Landesmuseum in Zurich by the Gottfried Keller Foundation, 7 were moved to England). In spring of 1894 the Gottfried Keller Foundation and Landesmuseum in Zurich bought further 108 works together. 81 stained-glass panels from Gröditzberg remain in the Landesmuseum until present day. In the village of Gröditzberg (Grodziec) only 7 stained-glass windows remained as decoration of the church. After WW2 there were only 5 pieces left, of which 3 most interesting ones disappeared in late 70-ties. One of those, dated to 1620 and depicting David in the lions' den, is now a part of a private collection in Hillsborough, California (USA).

Categories of works of art in this collection: Applied arts (9)

Ewald Wernicke, Gröditzberg. Geschichte und Beschreibung der Burg, Bunzlau 1880

Ausstellung von Glasgemälden aus dem Nachlasse des Dichters Johann Martin Usteri (1763 - 1827). Aus Schloss Gröditzberg in Schlesien zurückerworben im april 1894, Zürich 1894

Agnieszka Gola, Magda Ławicka, Kolekcja witraży z Grodźca na tle innych śląskich kolekcji witrażowych, "Szkice Legnickie" , v. XXV (2004), p. 187-206

Localization: Gröditzberg (Grodziec) - castle and palace
Authors of this entry:
  • Agnieszka Gola, Magda Ławicka
Published on: 12 / 06 / 2010
Project co-financed by Ministry of Labour and Social Policy under Government Project – Civic Benefit Fund.
All information published under license: Creative Commons