Architecture and Art
  Historical paintings    Marble busts

F. Bürklein - Architect of the Maximilianeum

The official function of the Maximilianeum

The first plans for the Maximilianstrasse were created in 1851 by the architect Friedrich Bürklein (1813-1872), as part of a project for ‘beautifying Munich.’ He planned the boulevard as a center of urban commerce, which would serve to connect the city with the Isar and the Haidhausen district planned for across the river. The street, the center, and the bridge were to culminate in a picturesque crowning object, an acropolis above the Isar – what became the Maximilianeum.

  View from the Steinerne Saal on Maximilianstrasse
The facade of the Maximilianeum
Architecture: the Maximimilian style

Max II wanted his new street to have a unified appearance and prescribed the so-called ‘Maximilianstil’ to his architects: pointed arcades and verticality from the Anglo-Saxon Neo-Gothic style were the basis on which the best elements of all historical epochs of art would be unified with modern building techniques. The Maximilianeum, as the last building built, is at once the completion and decadent phase of the style: just before his death, the king ordered that rounded arches be added to the façade, which was already under construction.

  Art in the Maximilianeum

At the beginning (>> The charter) the Foundation consisted of 30 oil paintings and 24 marble busts, in addition to the building, its furnishings, and the monetary capital. The money was lost to inflation in the 1920s and only 17 of the 30 paintings survived the Second World War.

The paintings of the ‘historical gallery’ were created from 1852 under the direction of Leo von Klenze (1784-1864) and depict important moments of world history. The sculptors Peter Schöpf (1804-1875) and Johann Halbig (1814-1882) complement them with their busts in Carrara marble, representing benefactors, discoverers, wise men, men of letters, politicians, and generals. Paintings on the façade of the Maximilianeum and the inner rooms add to the artistic scheme.

The leading thought in the artistic program is twofold: beauty and truth. The time’s ideal of Bildung stands behind the program. Art does not exist for its own sake, but also for the development of the people – and therefore must depict history, the ‘educator of humanity.’

top The 17 historical paintings
top Marble busts

4 of the 24 marble busts (f. l. t. r.: Prince Eugene of Savoy, Gustavus Adolphus, Turenne, Alexander the Great)

  10. Prince Eugene of Savoy (*1663, †1736)
The Austrian General won fame for his victories in the Great Turkish War. As an imperial advisor, he proved his political acumen.
  11. Vincent de Paul (*1581, †1660)
Spent most of his life in Paris, where he dedicated himself to the care of the poor. Numerous charitable institutions are traced back to him.
  12. Confucius (*c. 551, †479 BCE)
Although the philosopher was unable to carry out societal reforms in his lifetime, his moral and political philosophy is influential on Chinese culture and far beyond to this day.
  12 further busts stand as permanent loans in the rooms of the Parliament.