The Villa Ingenheim in Jelenia Góra (Hirschberg)

Published on: 13 / 12 / 2009

Authors of this entry:
  • Magdalena Palica

Today, two buildings in Germany carry the usual name “Villa Ingenheim”, one of them is located in Potsdam, at the riverside, the other in Wiesbaden. Both are directly linked to the most important aristocratic family figure, who had lent them his own name, i.e. to the artworks' collector Gustav Adolph von Ingenheim (more about him in the article “Botticelli in Rysiowice”). The same name should be referred to the building erected by the end of the 19th century in Jelenia Góra (Hirschberg in German), at crossroads of the former Stonsdorferstraße (presently ul. Mickiewicza) and the Wilhelmstraße (presently ul. Wojska Polskiego).

Above the main entrance, two coats of arms’ cartouches were placed, on the left one of the Ingenheims, on the right – one of Jelenia Góra town. The same pair of coats of arms adorns the façade at the side of the Wilhelmstraße. In the tympanum over the second storey, from the same side of the building, a monogram E can be seen, enclosed in a decorative cartouche, carried by two putti. The emblem refers to the former owner, Elisabeth Mikusch von Buchberg, countess von Ingenheim. In the early 20th century she inherited a part of her grandfather’s Gustav Adolph von Ingenheim’s collection of paintings.

The archival photos from the early 20th century depict richly furnished interiors of the villa that illustrate its owners’ taste. Spacious rooms, lit by large windows, “enlivened” by figured wallpapers, tapestries, thoroughly draped curtains, house a lot of decorative furniture, whose leaves are decked with many framed photos, vessels, porcelain works and other trinkets. Underneath the ornamental plafonds hang pompous chandeliers, the walls are decked with numerous paintings, mirrors and photos, all of them decoratively framed. Particularily representative was the raking layout of rooms in the piano nobile level, with a large salon on its lateral axis, accentuated from the exterior by three windows, with the monogram E above them. These rooms had formerly housed a modest collection of paintings, whose significant part had consisted of the ancestors’ gallery. The western wall of the salon, bears a distinctive portrait by Anton Graff, depicting Wilhelm II, Gustav Adolph von Ingenheim's father. The opposite wall, vis à vis the painting by Graff, bears a print which portrays Jules von Ingeheim, Elisabeth Mikusch von Buchberg’s father. One portrait more of the count, depicted en trois quarts in landscape setting, along with a literally similar image of the count’s wife, Elisabeth de domo Stolberg-Stolberg, were located in another room.

An image of their daughter Elisabeth was housed in a room to the south of the salon. Underneath the bust portrait of the countess, in an oval frame three photos are visible, which with no doubt depict her three children: Elisabeth, Emich and Bianca.

The amount of artworks, forming Gustav Adolph von Ingenheim's collection in his villa in Jelenia Góra, totalled about thirty pieces. A few of them formed the gallery of ancestors and other significant figures cited above. The collection of paintings, inherited in the early 20th century by Elisabeth von Mikusch and her husband, had clearly reflected the quality of Gustav Adolph von Ingenheim’s collection. Among the paintings, were works by early Italian masters, including mostly early Renaissance painters named primitivi, among them the two small-scale paintings ascribed to the Sienese master Simone Memmi, depicting the Evangelists’ figures and Madonna on the throne, defined as the “Byzantine school”. The current exposure site of the latter painting is hard to define – the small triptych, aimed for private devotion, attributed to the workshop of Bernardo Daddi is currently housed in Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Of the collector's particular interest was the Italian Quattrocento painting, especially its particular genre: the cassoni. Ingenheim succeeded in acquiring two paintings originally ascribed to Sandro Botticelli, now attributed to Master of the Argonauts, both currently housed in Gemäldegalerie of Berlin. The paintings, undoubtedly executed on the occasion of a betrothal in the Medici family, which unequivocally demonstrate the Medici coats of arms, depict episodes from the history of Amor and Psyche. Among Italian paintings the Ingenheim's gallery also included two pictures by Raffaellino del Garbo (depicting the Annunciation und a miracle performed by an unknown Saint), as well as a large-scale painting depicting Madonna offering her belt to St. Thomas, in the 19th century ascribed to Filippino Lippi, currently to Michelangelo di Pietro Mencherini (in Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota). The “youngest” artwork in this group of Italian paintings was a small canvas by Annibale Carracci, depicting St. John the Baptist’s head in a bowl. Northern painting, whose amount in the Ingenheim's collection was decisively smaller, represented only a few works, among them the Temptation of St. Anthony in a desert, in the register of Ingenheim's collection recorded as a work by Pieter Brueghel and Landscape with peasants and knights attributed to Paul Bril. Another landscape, ascribed to Gaspard Poussin (Eine grosse Landschaft), according to the sources, had its provenance in the Roman Palazzo Colonna.

Early European painting was housed along with paintings by German 19th century artists. Count Ingenheim was particularly interested in landscapes, painted by members of the Roman colony of painters. Gustav Adolph was a friend and frequent commissioner of those artists, which is why the attributions cited in the paintings' register of this period, can be regarded plausible. An example of this genre is the View of Sorrento by Florian Grosspietsch. Two other landscapes of the former collection in Jelenia Góra, were painted by Janus Genelli, one of them depicted the view of Karlsbad, the other – Buchenwald. The latter of the foregoing paintings is better known from a description by Lionel von Donop (an art historian linked to Nationalgalerie in Berlin), who was in 1900 a frequent guest in Elisabeth Mikusch von Buchberg’s villa. In her property there were also paintings by Friedrich Bury and Paul Mila who Gustav Adolph von Ingenheim had personally known. The only 19th century picture from the former collection in Jelenia Góra, which has been presently recovered, is a composition inspired by E.T.A. Hoffmann’s novelette, painted by Johann Erdmann Hummel, entitled La Fermate or Company in an Italian inn. The picture was purchased by Gustav Adolph von Ingenheim, shortly after its execution, undoubtedly in 1814, since in spring of the same year it was presented at an exhibition in Berlin, where Hoffmann was personally looking at it. The picture had adorned the Ingenheim’s villa till 1925 (in the lexicon edited that year by Thieme/Becker, major Mikusch von Buchberg had been cited as the painting’s owner), since in the same year the picture was acquired by Neue Pinakothek in Munich. In the photo depicting the southern wall of the salon, the Hummel’s canvas painting is visible in simple frames.

Amongst artworks, which formerly adorned the inner walls of the Ingenheims’ villa in Jelenia Góra, the history of only six paintings has been traced back. The remaining ones probably perished during the World War II. It can be presumed, basing on records in the Ingenheim’s register of paintings, owned afterwards by Elisabeth Mikusch von Buchberg's cousins who inhabited the palace in Rysiowice (Reisewitz in German) by Nysa (Neisse in German). The last owner of the collection in Jelenia Góra died in May 1939. A few months preceding her death she had applied to institutions, which she had once offered paintings from her private collection (i.e. Kaiser-Friedrich Museum in Berlin and Schlesisches Museum der Bildenden Künste in Wroclaw), with a request to send back all information, regarding the collection of artworks she had once possessed, along with the register of paintings and photos of them, which she had sent to those institutions twenty years before, as a sales offer. Unfortunately, as the museum’s collaborators reported, such records wouldn’t have been preserved. Should have Elisabeth Mikusch von Buchberg attempted by the end of her life, to rescue her family collection from oblivion?

The foregoing text bases on fragments on an issue by Magdalena Palica, Willa Ingenheim w Jeleniej Górze i jej zbiory – krótka historia zapomnianej kolekcji, In: “Rocznik Jeleniogórski”, 37 (2006), pp. 229-336.

Project co-financed by Ministry of Labour and Social Policy under Government Project – Civic Benefit Fund.
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