The Influence of Intellectual and Esoteric Currents, such as Freemasonry
Conference 28-29 September 2006, Schloss Schwetzingen, Germany
During the 18th century, freemasonry provided a social network for men of different walks of life, including many aristocrats, intellectuals, artists and architects. Membership of a masonic order was socially accepted at the time and it was even fashionable to make one’s membership subtly known to others, for instance through the use of domestic objects with symbolic decorations. Also the decoration of houses could be used in this respect.
In the same time period, garden design and landscape art incorporated classical, mythological and religious symbolism, and gardens became an expression of the status, personality and learning of their owners. It was not uncommon for a garden design to include ‘hidden’ symbolism, for the path through a garden to reflect a journey of initiation, or for architectural follies to be built in the shape of masonic temples. This symbolism was purposefully ‘hidden’, meant to be discovered by the initiated or to enlighten the visitor with new insights. Today, we are no longer familiar with common 18th century iconography and unable to read the visual clues to the meaning of such gardens.
Art historical approaches and heritage preservation policies are traditionally based on Christian iconography, and have largely overlooked the importance of masonic and esoteric symbolism to art, architecture and garden design. Recent academic studies, however, have shown the importance of masonic heritage to our cultural collective heritage and brought the hidden symbolism in historical gardens to the centre of attention.
This conference aims to provide an introduction into the masonic and esoteric symbolism in 18th century garden architecture, provide an overview of recent academic research into the subject, and raise awareness of the importance of preserving the remaining sites as a part of our cultural heritage.
The conference takes place at the summer residence of ‘Kurfürst’ Carl Theodor in Schwetzingen, the location of one of the oldest, most intricate and best preserved masonic gardens in the world.
OVN (Foundation for the advancement of academic research into the history of freemasonty in the Netherlands),
‘Vermögen und Bau Baden-Württemberg, Amt Mannheim'
the Institute for the Schollarly Study of Religions and the Institute for the History of Art of the University of Heidelberg.
Prof. Dr. James Stevens Curl (Professor Emeritus Queen’s University, Belfast & De Montfort University, Leicester): ‘Symbolism in Gardens: An Introduction’
Caroline Holmes (Tutor of Garden History, Institute of Continuing Education, University of Cambridge): ‘A Rose by Any Other Name? – An Introduction to the Symbolism of Plants and Planting’
Dr. Cristina Ruggero (Bibliotheca Hertziana, Max-Planck-Institut für Kunstgeschichte, Roma): ‘Denkmäler für internationale Freunde. Juvarras “Capricci” und ihre Symbolik’
Prof. Dr. Patrizia Granziera (University of Cuernavaca, Mexico): ‘Politics and Freemasonic Symbolism in 18th Century Venetian Architecture and Garden Design’
Dr. Monika Scholl (Kunsthistorikerin, Offenburg): ‘Minerva und Arion: “Schnäppchen“ für Schwetzingen?’
Prof. Dr. Jan Snoek (Universität Heidelberg): ‘Die “Fabriques” im englischen Gartenteil, ein wahlloses Durcheinander?’
Dr. Heimerick Tromp (independent scholar, The Netherlands): ‘Symbolism in 18th-Century Gardens in The Netherlands: The Masonic Contribution’
Wim Oers (M.Sc. University Leuven, M.Sc. University College London, Bristol University): ‘Schönenberg, a Palace in the Age of the Enlightenment’
Annegreth Dietze MA (Doktorandin Universität Ås, Norwegen): ‘Freimaureraktivitäten in Norwegen und die Bedeutung für die norwegische Gartenkunst des 18. und 19. Jahrhunderts’
Erik Westengaard (Curator Nationalhistoriske Museum, Frederiksborg/Danske Frimurerordens Museum, Copenhagen): “Gardens of the Mind. A Walk Through the Masonic Symbolism of Three Gardens in Denmark: Louisenlund, Jægerspris and Sanderumgaard”
Agata Michalska MA (PhD Candidate, Poznan University of Technology): ‘The Influence of Freemasonry and Esoteric Ideas on Landscape Design during the Enlightenment in Poland’
Sascha Winter MA (Doktorand Universität Heidelberg): ‘“Wo der Tod winkt, lächelt das Leben”: Gräber von Freimaurern und Rosenkreuzern in Gärten um 1800’
Berit Ruge MA (Doktorandin Freie Universität Berlin): ‘Der Einfluss des Ordens der Gold- und Rosenkreuzer auf Gartengestaltungen der Spätaufklärung in Deutschland am Beispiel alchemistischer Symbolik’
Frank Albo BA (MA Student, University of Amsterdam): ‘The Masonic Garden “Desert de Retz”, near Paris’
Registration: All who are interested in the subject of this conference are welcome. For organisational reasons, registration is requested before September 15th, 2006. Please register with Dr. Monika Scholl .
All who are interested in the subject of this conference are welcome. For organisational reasons, registration is requested before September 15th, 2006.
Schwetzingen Castle, Southern Wing (Südlicher Zirkel des Schlosses in Schwetzingen)
50 Euro; reduced fee of 25 Euro for members of the OVN, the ESSWE, and (PhD) students. The conference fee is to be paid on arrival and includes tea/coffee and conference hand outs. (Lunch is excluded. Participants can have lunch at a café or restaurant of their choice near the venue.)
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