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Visual culture, scientific images and German small-state politics in the late Enlightenment.

The visual representation of politics and power is attracting increasing attention from historians. In the past decades, a revival of a Warburg-style iconographical approach in art history, which shifted the emphasis of art historical analysis from aesthetic quality to intellectual content, prepared the ground for new historical methodologies which regard images as political sources.(1) But, despite fashionable protestations to the contrary, the bulk of historical literature continues to treat visual evidence primarily as a retrospective illustration of political trends which are themselves reconstructed from written sources.(2)

The eighteenth century is a period for which this problem is particularly acute. This was an age in which art emancipated itself from the representational functions which earlier regimes ascribed to it.(3) If visual culture had, ever served to illustrate politics, it certainly ceased to do so now. Indeed, it seems at first glance that eighteenth-century intellectuals envisaged a complete separation of the artistic and the political spheres. The autonomy of art was powerfully defended by Johann Joachim Winckelmann, one of the most famous eighteenth-century German writers on aesthetics, According to Winckelmann, aesthetics had to follow its own laws and prove its autonomy; it could no longer be a vehicle for any content, conceptual or moral, which was located beyond the realm of the aesthetic.(4) Yet such eighteenth-century proclamations of the complete autonomy of art must be viewed as rhetorical devices. Little is gained if a `political' interpretation of Winckelmann's writings only serves to reiterate the cliche of the inherently totalitarian German who frowned upon day-to-day politics.(5) Winckelmann himself had explicit political views and never advocated a Romantic conception of the artist as a solitary genius detached from society. He did not wish for culture to transcend politics. But he opposed the use of art as an illustration of politics, and criticized a tendency in the early Enlightenment to reduce culture to a didactic tool -- a move not structurally dissimilar to the dictates of courtly representation, in that it subjected art to an external purpose. By contrast, Winckelmann believed that art represented a moral authority in its own right. Rather than becoming apolitical, this moral authority made art even more influential as a political argument. Rulers who relied on such arguments now on the whole realized that they could only be credible in doing so if they left the artist's autonomy relatively intact.

A related trend has been noted concerning the relationship, between literature and politics. Here, Goethe's role at the small German court of Saxe-Weimar is often cited as indicative of the new political authority ascribed to culture.(6) Despite being employed by a prince, Goethe enjoyed more artistic independence than a traditional court poet could have dreamed imaginable. At the same time, however, he also exercised an unprecedented degree of political power as a leading minister. This office had been assigned to him as a mark of respect for his cultural authority, not his practical political experience. In this way, art became a political qualification in its own right.

What was true for literature was also true for visual culture in eighteenth-century Germany. The changing role of both was, however, not only a product of the time, but also of the different types of regimes which coexisted in Germany. Ruling princes in the Holy Roman Empire articulated their political agendas in different ways, and their attitude to the language of images varied accordingly.

On the one hand, large fiscal-military states such as the Habsburg monarchy and, especially, Prussia generated the kind of documents on a large scale which were to become the basis of modern historical writing. Both the underlying rationale and the political practice of these enlightened absolutist states was defined primarily in official written documents. It was no accident that when Leopold von Ranke based his definition of historical sources on this particular type of written material, he was writing to construct a historical legitimation for Prussia's dominance in German politics.(7) In his formative Rheinsberg years, Frederick II of Prussia himself set out his political philosophy in theoretical texts, and throughout his reign, writing in its different forms remained his favourite genre of political expression. This is not to say that Frederick was uninterested in culture. Indeed, quite the opposite is the case. But, while he took an active role in the cultural debates of his time,(8) both Frederick's notorious disregard for the achievements of almost all leading figures of the German cultural revival and the intense conservatism of his personal cultural tastes betrayed his deep conviction that culture should reflect political change, not actively contribute to it.(9)

On the other hand, there were the small, sometimes minute, German principalities that made up the bulk of the German empire. Because small-state administrations produced few written files (many decisions were reached in discussions and never recorded in writing), cultural sources are often the only evidence available to the historian to shed light on the underlying assumptions of small-state politics in this epoch. This situation reflects a genuinely different attitude to culture in such principalities. As the famous political commentator, Justus Moser, noted in his history of Osnabruck, the language of French-inspired enlightened absolutism proved woefully inadequate to describe the political culture of the small states of the empire.(10) Rulers of such principalities thus had an added incentive to embrace the alternative means of expression which visual culture offered. Through the use of `images', alternative modes of political thinking were developed and new forms of political legitimation were constructed.

In the political historiography of eighteenth-century Germany, the smaller states have gradually moved from a position of almost complete obscurity into one of lively historical debate. Much progress has already been made in correcting what was almost a caricature of the small principalities in the older historiography.(11) Yet it still seems unclear what constituted a specifically small-state approach to enlightened government. This is largely due to the methodological bias. It is difficult to imagine how the role of small states can be adequately grasped if historians continue to privilege those kinds of documents which are, typically produced by large fiscal-bureaucratic states. Goethe, whose political office was characteristically tied to a small principality, remarked about small-state politics: `what really mattered is not to be found in the documents'.(12) This article will illustrate how, by considering politics and images in conjunction, the deficits of conventional written evidence can be overcome. To this end, it focuses on one of the leading cultural centres of late eighteenth-century Germany, the principality of Anhalt-Dessau.

Compared to neighbouring Saxe-Weimar, Anhalt-Dessau and its enlightened ruler, Leopold III Friedrich Franz (simply referred to as Franz by contemporaries), are today little known outside specialist circles. Among political historians, this blind spot is largely a result of the peculiar nature of the written sources which record Franz's involvement in German imperial politics.(13) Yet the evidence of Franz's leading role in the cultural life of his period -- his magnificent estate at Worlitz which contains the first neo-classical architecture and the first English-style landscape garden of eighteenth-century Germany -- is perfectly preserved and accessible. The fact that it is rarely taken as seriously as the achievements of literary neo-classicism in Weimar is indicative of the very problem at the heart of this study: the fact that historians continue to privilege written evidence over visual sources.

By proposing a political reading of some of the visual elements of Worlitz, this article will trace the emergence of a highly original, but typically small-state understanding of enlightened `improvement' that was informed more by images than texts. The specific images which will be at the centre of this discussion alluded to a contemporary scientific and political debate -- the Neptunist-Volcanist controversy. Due to the complexity of their iconography, they were unparalleled in eighteenth-century Germany. Yet an analysis of the way in which some of this period's most striking visual icons communicated `political' points can illuminate a much more general trend. It reveals how, in late eighteenth-century small German states, visual culture spoke a political language which contains more vital information than any written documents do for an adequate understanding of this historical epoch and its political innovations.



Like many rulers of small principalities in the German empire, Franz of Anhalt-Dessau felt threatened by the expansion of the large member states, Prussia and the Habsburg monarchy. From the time of the First Silesian War (1740-2), Frederick II had made it clear that he had little respect for the Holy Roman Empire, its historical laws, its customs and its authority. This message was dramatically reinforced at the time of the War of the Bavarian Succession (1778-9), when Prussia began recruiting outside her own territory. Anhalt-Dessau and Saxe-Weimar were among the states affected. In this situation, Franz searched for a model of development which could be used to turn his state into an example of good, enlightened government, but which was at the same time particularly suited to relatively small political units. Only if small principalities achieved recognition as model regimes could their rulers count on the support of German public opinion, which was powerfully asserted in the hundreds of public-affairs journals produced in the Holy Roman Empire.

As a model for non-state-centred reform, and to distance himself clearly from Frederick's Francophile approach, Franz of Anhalt-Dessau chose to look towards England, thus tapping into a rapidly expanding current of Anglophilia within the German Enlightenment.(14) Yet Franz's models were more specific: above all, he befriended, learned from and imitated English aristocrats. Between 1763 and 1785 he travelled to Britain on four extended study trips. Relatively little is known about the precise itinerary of these journeys. What we do know, however, is that Franz spent less time than was customary in London and instead concentrated on visiting the estates and model farms of aristocrats like the earl of Shelburne, who were particularly active in sponsoring a wide range of `improvements'. Franz was very interested in the agricultural experiments which Shelburne conducted on his model farm, but also in the other initiatives, ranging from religious reform to scientific research, which Shelburne patronized.(15) Some of Franz's other friends also acquainted him with the idea of aesthetically and economically improving an estate, and with the wider implications of economic development. Sir Charles Cottrell-Dormer of Rousham, for example, recorded in his diary that he not only showed Franz his estate, but that he also took him on a tour through the manufacturing areas of the Midlands.(16)

Back at home, Franz translated these experiences into practice. He introduced a clover-based crop rotation and an associated enclosure movement. He set up enterprises, including a workshop producing Chippendale-style furniture. He also tried to create a consumer culture: for example, founding the Chalkographische Gesellschaft for the cheap mechanical reproduction of good art. And finally, he introduced educational reforms at the newly founded Philantropin in the spirit of English dissenting academies.

All of these actions were preceded, however, by the creation of a visual statement: a vast `English' landscape garden at Worlitz, created under the prince's personal direction between 1763 and approximately 1790, itself the focus of the aesthetic and economic improvement of the countryside throughout most of the principality. Anhalt-Dessau under Franz's regime began to look like a single landscape garden. Worlitz, the prince's own garden, was the geographical centre of this transformation, from where the improving spirit `emanated' throughout the principality.

This was true for both the practical and the intellectual dimensions of `improvement'. Worlitz transcended its English models in the extent to which it was `public', because publicity was a vital means for spreading the gospel of improvement. The `public' at Worlitz was therefore no longer that passive sample of subordinates who were subjected to royal representation, but a voluntary public consisting of individuals who chose to enter the garden. As far as can be established today, it seems that those sections of the garden which are directly joined with the surrounding countryside and could in fact not effectively be isolated from it without major structural alteration were deliberately designed for public access. (Worlitz did not even contain the traditional haha to keep unwanted animals out and hide public traffic from view.) Instead, access to the garden was openly encouraged for didactic purposes.

One important reason for inviting the public to share in the garden experience concerned agricultural improvement. Worlitz included many areas which were used for sheep and cattle breeding and pomological experimentation. It contained fields and `palmhouses' where new crops were cultivated. Local farmers and foreign observers were invited to study these innovations and admire the results. At the same time, the public area of Worlitz also contained features associated with other educational subjects. A synagogue, for example, was placed on the boundary between the park and the village of Worlitz and, besides being a functioning religious centre, it was used for public lectures on the subject of religious toleration. A public library, which contained recent publications on the subjects of gardening and agriculture, was housed in a purpose-built pavilion in the garden. A permanent geographical and ethnological exhibition was housed in the so-called Forster pavilion, named after the geographers Reinhold and Georg Forster. The exhibits documented their participation in Captain Cook's second South Sea expedition and celebrated British imperial exploration and scientific investigation.

The fact that, wherever possible, improvement in Anhalt-Dessau was shown to originate in the garden points to the psychological importance that Franz attached to the visual context of the English garden in promoting and defining the kind of Anglophile transformation which he intended for his principality. Why, one might wonder, did Franz take the trouble to create a garden if he could have publicized his vision in writing and spread the message by less expensive means? The answer lies in the nature of the message itself. Historians usually interpret acts of representation as if they were written texts, but, in this case, this method has its limitations. Although the recognition of the meaning of the garden was intended to be `intellectual', in that it had to be read with the mind, this was complemented by a sentimental appeal. The garden's role in establishing Franz's religious programme is a characteristic example.

Franz was a freethinker who rejected the church as an authoritarian institution but believed in its supra-confessional purpose as a `worldwide educational institution' (Welterziehungsanstadt) for the cultivation of human virtue.(17) Religious dogma to Franz was a source of social friction, whereas Christian `love' was seen as a potential social virtue and could be reconciled with other religions in so far as these fulfilled the same civilizing purpose. Nowhere did he state his opinions more elaborately than through his garden's iconography. The landscape garden -- archetypal political `image' of the eighteenth century -- opened up means of expression entirely alien to its predecessor, the baroque garden. Baroque `gardens' had served as stages, more comparable to modem parade grounds than modem parks. They were designed as backgrounds for huge courtly festivals re-enacting absolutist power. The eighteenth-century English garden, by contrast, provided a model for creating gardens as spaces for individualized experience and moral improvement.(18) Icons of the garden were not to be deciphered like lexicographic references, but through the filter of those associations and emotions which the garden setting inspired in the individual. Ludwig Trauzettel has pointed out the importance of vistas in the Worlitz landscape connecting different symbols.(19) The Facherblick or `fan-view' (a wide-angled prospect along several vistas from a single standpoint) has also been discussed in this connection. Yet the real novelty of the Worlitz fan-view lay not in its formal structure, but in the sentimental, individualist character of the allegorical connections it invoked.

This takes us back to the topic of religious universalism. One of the Worlitz fan-views is seen from a natural seat located at the edge of the garden on the banks of the river Elbe, from where images of three different forms of religion represent themselves in a single picture: a synagogue, a church, and an allegory of natural religion or pantheism, represented by a line of poplars and a nymph reflected in the water of the main lake. This corresponds to Franz's ideal of the harmonious coexistence of different religions, as expressed in the written evidence cited above. But only the view in the garden turned such coexistence into direct correspondence. Contemplating all three images in the sentimental mood evoked by the progress through the Worlitz landscape, the spectator of the fan-view perceived all three religious symbols as united into a single ideal picture. By appealing to the sensual perception thus created, the garden design suggested to the viewer the `spontaneous' idea that a new unity between the religions could be achieved, something hinted at in the term Welterziehungsanstalt.

Worlitz represents what might be termed the politics of sentimentality. Sentimentality in the eighteenth century was not synonymous with a Romantic adoration of irrational nature. The exploration of emotions could, it is true, be seen as a critique of the more strictly rationalist Enlightenment embodied, for example, by the French Encyclopedists; yet, at Worlitz, sentimentality did not preclude optimism about the possibilities of improving the world. After all, intense emotions were themselves conceived as part of a sentimental education which would ultimately lead to moral improvement.

These didactic ambitions of the sentimental movement may help to explain why, in the minds of Franz and his circle, a cultivation of sentimentality was also regarded as compatible with the idea of improvement in more practical spheres like technology. It is one of the most striking features of Worlitz that allusions to technical progress directly interacted with the sentimental aspects of the garden -- a synthesis which, as we shall see, was characteristic of Franz's world view. The numerous, picturesque bridges spanning the many rivers and canals of the garden were the most explicit example of this. Alongside their aesthetic connection with the still, reflecting water, which gave them a poetic, almost surreal, quality, these bridges also served as a practical documentation of technical progress. All of the bridges were historical models, representing fourteen different stages of artistic change and technical advance, culminating in a copy (in reduced scale) of the first, English, cast-iron bridge at Coalbrookdale. At Worlitz, the very same bridges thus had both a sentimental and a progressive technical appeal.

Furthermore, a similar connection was made between sentimentality and political `improvement', though this was only intelligible to the better-educated, aristocratic visitors and Franz's political associates. The statue of Egeria at Worlitz can serve as an illustration of this kind of political iconography. Following the example of Henry Hoare at Stourhead, Franz chose to display a statue of a reclining female figure of Egeria inside a grotto in his garden. The immediate visual impact of this figure is one of sentimental introspection: a turning away from worldly affairs. Yet the mythological dimension balances this effect. The choice of Egeria as a paradigmatic sentimental figure suggests a connection with a specific story, famously told in Ovid's Metamorphoses (as well as a range of other classical works, including Plutarch's Life of Numa, Livius I.21.3 and Juvenal 3.13). Indeed, both Franz and Henry Hoare used the settings of their statues to reinforce these associations. In each garden, Egeria is depicted as a nereid, located in a grotto which houses the spring of the river. This points to a specific scene from Ovid -- painted, among others, by Claude Lorraine -- when Egeria grieves in Diana's sacred grove Aricia by lake Nemi, until she literally dissolves in tears, thus turning into a spring; hence, her depiction as a nereid. Yet Egeria's grief stood out from similar stories in that the cause of her metamorphosis was not merely private sentiment. She mourned for her dead husband Numa, the first king and lawgiver of Rome. Her loss was thus emblematic of the whole country's loss and had a political dimension. According to some contemporary sources, Egeria's political significance was not only a reflection of her husband's role, as she had actively advised and supported him in his political office.(20) Her figure in the garden of Worlitz thus had two layers of meaning: a visual display of melancholy and private grief, and an allegorical dimension with political overtones.

Considering that, according to Plutarch, Numa was considered the direct Roman equivalent of the mythological Spartan lawgiver and prototype for a virtuous statesman, Lycurgus, whose statue was used prominently in contemporary landscapes at Chiswick and Stowe, and the Mount Parnassus at Kew, Franz's allusion to Numa fits into a general iconographical theme. Still, it was characteristic of Worlitz that the explicit references to good government of the former gardens had been replaced by a much more subtle and implied sentimental allusion to the figure of a wise ruler.



The Worlitz garden and its network of icons thus mapped out goals of `improvement'. Yet only one particularly original and complex garden structure, the so-called Stein, illustrates how this kind of `image' also defined the methods by which such improvement was to be achieved, and thus contains more specific clues about the aforementioned small-state approach to political change. Constructed between 1788 and 1794, the Stein was a highly complex and relatively self-contained section of the garden, the chief elements of which were two model volcanoes. One of the craters was transformed into an amphitheatre. Next to the craters was a pavilion entitled the Villa Hamilton, which contained a collection of Wedgwood vases and volcanic materials. The elements which made up the Stein were less an encyclopaedic collection of Italian impressions than a depiction of the immediate surroundings and the intellectual concerns of Sir William Hamilton, British Envoy Extraordinaire in Naples, whose personal acquaintance Franz had made on his Italian journey in 1766.(21)

As the Stein's dominant feature, the model volcano sat very oddly in the marshy North German landscape. For contemporary spectators, this contrast with the surrounding natural scenery was further enhanced by the spectacle of mock volcanic eruptions. On special occasions after sunset, fireworks were lit in the crater and water was pumped down the sides of the artificial mountain, parts of which were covered with red tinted glass which were backlit so as to give the impression of a flowing lava stream (Plate 1). This extraordinary spectacle had a particular meaning in the context of a garden which had been conceived as a deliberate anti-type to the baroque festival stage. Franz's friend and biographer, Friedrich Reil, referred to the Stein as a landscape of memory.(22) In other words, the Stein served not just as a setting for -- as did the fireworks displays at Versailles -- but as a memorial to, actual events. Many scholars have pointed to the significance of landscapes as spaces of memory.(23) To decipher Franz's landscape, however, it is necessary to recognize that his creations were not just sub- or semi-conscious manifestations of recurrent archetypes. They were, instead, highly conscious, deliberate allusions to specific intellectual themes and traditions, more comparable with the classical model of the Villa Hadriana than with Romantic and post-Romantic readings of nature.(24) As such, Franz's iconography was not timeless, but historically and politically specific. His combination of landscape and memory was not spontaneous, but carefully designed to recapture William Hamilton's archaeological, antiquarian and scientific activities.(25)

The task was rendered more complex by the fact that Hamilton himself rarely stated his views and opinions directly. Rather, he confined himself to observing and describing nature, and let the evidence speak for itself. This was especially true for his major work on the subject of Volcanism, the Observations on Mount Vesuvius. Yet Hamilton's empirical bent was precisely what appealed to Franz. A copy of the Observations was displayed in the Villa Hamilton at Worlitz, which formed the intellectual heart of the Stein.(26) It served as a model for a new conception of science. Because Hamilton only hinted at the revolutionary consequences which his findings would entail among geologists and others, the text could be presented by Franz as evidence of the triumph of a concrete, empirically based way of thinking over abstract theorizing.

This empiricism was also characteristic of Franz's activities in other fields. During a visit to Worlitz, Duke Carl August of Saxe-Weimar characterized Franz as a man who, though entirely `incapable' of abstraction, was nevertheless as moral and well-educated as those who underwent a classical education and philosophical training.(27) Carl August, acquainted through Goethe with the elevated ideals of literary neo-classicism, could only see Franz's anti-abstract empiricism as an idiosyncratic, personal trait. But from Franz's point of view, it represented a cultural and political paradigm in its own right. He based this conviction on his experience of England, or, more specifically, on that peculiar combination of pragmatic empiricism and sentimental reflection that he believed shaped English culture and politics. For him, Hamilton's publication embodied `Englishness'. He identified the way of thinking it articulated as the driving force behind the economic, political and cultural success of England, which was perceived to be the most advanced contemporary European state of the time. If Worlitz illustrated and promoted the range of reforms which constituted this English success story, the Stein demonstrated the empirical approach by means of which such improvements were introduced. For this, science provided the perfect metaphor.



At the time Worlitz was created, the symbol of the volcano had gained an unprecedented ideological topicality. This was due to the disputed role of volcanoes in the geological genesis of the earth, commonly known as the Neptunist-Volcanist debate.(28) It turned into one of the most heated ideological controversies of the time, stretching far beyond the realm of the scientific community. Franz became aware of the Neptunist-Volcanist debate long before he embarked upon the erection of the Stein. He was interested in it by 1775 when he visited the British Museum. As his wife, Louise, described, issues relating to Volcanism were their primary concern.(29) The British Museum provided an ideal introduction to the subject, both by documenting the material and taking an active part in sponsoring and publicizing the research which underpinned the volcanists' position. William Hamilton himself had not only produced several papers on the subject but had also supported the Museum's didactic efforts. He had contributed samples of volcanic stone to the collection, which would have been seen by the visitors from Dessau. Louise also expressed particular admiration for another part of the display, namely a room dedicated to a volcanic eruption itself. At the centre of the darkened room was a painting which she described as transparent and illuminated from behind. This picture, too, had been donated by Hamilton, as his own account testifies: `I have also accompanied that collection with a view of a current of lava from Mount Vesuvius; it is painted with transparent colours, and, when lighted up with lamps behind it, gives a much better idea of Vesuvius, than is possible by any other sort of painting'.(30)

The `idea of Vesuvius' to which Hamilton refers centred around the event of the eruption. For volcanoes were of interest not as integral elements of the landscape, but as its productive forces. By using special dramatic effects to try to recreate the experience of a volcanic eruption, Hamilton's contribution to the Museum drew attention to the volcano as an active re-creator of the landscape. Franz's Stein had a similar effect. It was not an integral part of the surrounding landscape -- it emphatically did not blend into it. Rather, it was conceived as a productive energy, represented spectacularly in the elaborate technical mechanism by which a volcanic eruption was re-created.(31)

The theme of the volcanic eruption and its historical implications lay at the heart of the Stein. The elements around the volcano provided a testimony to its having transformed the surrounding natural, and, by extension, also the human, cosmos. Curiously, this ideological significance of the Stein has been entirely neglected by scholars. Gunter Hartmann interpreted the entire garden structure as a collection of themes from an Italian journey which invoked classical antiquity, but he completely overlooked all references to a `modern' scientific influence.(32) Although Michael Ruffer has placed greater emphasis on contemporary meanings of the Stein in connection with freemasonry, he, too, believed the immediate references to be purely classical. To Ruffer, the complex system of outwardly visible elements of the Stein, as well as neighbouring structures in the eastern part of the Worlitz landscape, merely evoked a number of Italian landscapes and thus expressed the commonplace `yearning for Italy'.(33) But rather than recreating the component parts of a given scenery, the relationship between the volcano and its surroundings was conceived in a historical light, for the volcano was the symbol of both natural and cultural creativity, the products of which were systematically introduced in the surrounding garden sections.

The notion of the volcano as a constructive natural force was relatively commonplace in contemporary England, but it was rare amongst Franz's German contemporaries. Careful consideration of the ideological connotations of this divergence is required to discover the motivation behind Franz's unusual and provocative `defection' to the opposing (English) faction. The underlying theme of the controversy, which roughly, though not exactly, divided the English from their continental counterparts, was a different conception of history, and ultimately a different vision of the future. The process by which a scientific argument was transformed into a political controversy was almost a necessary, and certainly a typical, result of enlightened discourse. Throughout the eighteenth century, enlightened thinkers struggled to find ways of containing within a single vision apparently different varieties of truths. The reconciliation between scientific, seemingly `objective', knowledge and the `subjective' knowledge contained in the cultural norms and rituals of a society became a central concern. The latter, in the eighteenth century, were inevitably shaped by religion and, specifically, by a sense of history conveyed by the Bible. Such religious paradigms openly clashed with science, especially with regards to chronology.

The advanced state of scientific research in England at the time made the problem particularly acute there. For example, Isaac Newton attempted to use scientific data to verify the date of Creation as 4004 BC, which contemporaries had calculated from the Bible. This necessitated a number of very uncomfortable abbreviations of world history. But, although Newton took great pains to rescue biblical chronology, the very fact that he thought it necessary to do so shows that the Bible had lost its self-evident monopoly of truth. Other scientists were less willing to compromise their seemingly more objective, scientific evidence to support traditional theological assumptions.

This problem of chronology almost literally erupted into an explosive controversy over Volcanism. The Neptunists, most famously A. G. Werner, professor at the Freiberg school of mines, held that geological formations had spread over the earth from one universal ocean. The earth thus had a beginning in time (Creation) and continued to develop harmoniously according to this initial (divine) plan. In contrast, James Hutton, a leading Volcanist, emphasized the importance of a never-ending chain of sudden violent eruptions which changed the earth's surface. For Hutton, the world had `no trace of a beginning and no prospect of an end'.(34) William Hamilton had joined the debate at a very early stage. Characteristically, his role lay more in providing empirical evidence than in developing grand theories. Nevertheless, he always made absolutely clear that he advocated a Volcanist reading of earth history. Of his collection of volcanic matter presented to the British Museum, he wrote: `I am well convinced, by this collection, that many variegated marbles ... are the produce of Volcanoes; and that there have been Volcanoes in many parts of the world, where at present there are no traces of them visible'.(35) If he `was to establish a system, it would be, that Mountains are produced by Volcanoes, and not Volcanoes by Mountains'.(36) Hamilton was conscious of the fact that his ideas on volcanoes were the `direct reverse of what I find the commonly received opinion'(37) -- in other words, to the biblical account of Genesis.

This opposition has led many scholars to identify Volcanism with an enlightened challenge to orthodox religion.(38) On the other hand, not all the Neptunists who dominated the German scene were traditional Christians. It is therefore necessary to differentiate between two enlightened discourses in Europe. The equation of the Volcanists' belief in the constructive potential of sudden events and unorthodox change with an enlightened outlook per se is generally valid in an English context.(39) In continental historiography, however, one often finds the opposite image dominant. When political historians on the Continent attempt to use the Enlightenment as an explanatory category, it is usually associated with a gradualist approach to change, with change carefully planned in advance and then systematically executed. The appreciation of the experimental English approach, as a distinctly different but equally valid version of Enlightenment vis-a-vis Prussian-style enlightened absolutism, has been hindered by the anachronistic readings of French revolutionary themes into the period under discussion. This has led to the assumption that, in enlightened discourse, sudden and unorthodox change must always be a revolutionary principle. Twentieth-century historians have thereby fallen victim to a deliberate strategy employed by Romantics and Idealists, who used the negative example of the French Revolution to discredit a whole number of allegedly associated enlightened political strategies. In reality, most of these bore little or no resemblance to the sectarian interpretations of Enlightenment paradigms employed by radical revolutionaries.

Goethe's stance is characteristic of the ambivalence of the Volcanist-Neptunist debate. Goethe attacked orthodox Christian dogma even in what he saw as its scientific disguises, as, for example, in his critique of Newton's colour theory. Yet for political reasons Goethe adopted a Neptunist view of earth history. In Faust II (Act II), he juxtaposed Seismos, personifying the violence of Plutonic-Volcanist forces, with the sphinxes, representing the quiet and steady progress of creative forces which seemed more compatible with the Neptunist theory. Similarly, in Act IV, Mephisto presents the `devilish' Huttonian view, summarized as `deranged convulsions', whereas the Neptunist position is defended by Faust and characterized by a string of positive attributes, such as `noble' and `pure'.(40) Goethe's dislike of the Volcanists stemmed from his ideological distrust of all sudden change. As a result, volcanic basalt to him became a symbol of the violent French Revolution. To this he opposed the positive model of less radical political change in America. America, Goethe argued, did not suffer from a decadent feudal system and consequently had also avoided the violent counter-reaction which basalt symbolized: `America, you fare better/Than our old continent/Without decaying castles/And with no basalts'.(41)

Just as Goethe was no religious conservative, Volcanists were not, as a rule, political revolutionaries. Rather, Volcanism was a way of picturing political development as an unfolding of dormant energies, as an `awakening' which manifested itself in a series of sudden dramatic changes. In order to benefit from the use of volcanic imagery, those who used it had to accept its immediate visual impact as a metaphor of politics as a `dynamic' process. However, the dynamic might well come from above. In the pre-Revolutionary context in which Hamilton and Franz discussed the issue of volcanology, the association with any kind of `revolution from below', which Goethe scholars have so often asserted, is especially misleading. Both Hamilton and Franz were aristocrats and in their way extremely status-conscious. To them, Volcanism was associated with a certain style of political and cultural improvement from above, a style that relied on the creation of models for imitation, rather than systematic prescriptive legislation.



If the volcanic process served as a model for enlightened improvements, it functioned on several metaphorical levels. First, and most traditionally, the image of Vulcan as the god of arts and crafts was a well-known mythological topos at the time. Benjamin Hederich's lexicon linked him specifically with smithery.(42) The fact that the cast-iron bridge, of all model bridges at Worlitz, was placed next to the volcano can be read as a modern interpretation of this mythological connection.(43) Secondly, and on a more scientific level, the iconography of the Stein was completed by the symbolism of basalt. As an archetypal volcanic material, basalt was, as we have seen, singled out as a target in Neptunist polemic. At Worlitz, the same theme was reversed so as to turn basalt into an illustration of the virtues of the volcanic paradigm of change. In front of the model of Vesuvius at Worlitz, Franz had several original basalt columns installed.(44) The column shape, in which natural basalt frequently occurs, was thought to reflect directly the process by which it was formed, and had consequently provoked its own controversy. According to Werner's Neptunist theory, all stone was sediment of an original ocean. The basalt columns, he argued, displayed a clear crystalline structure which pointed to this origin. The case of salty solutions forming salt crystals when shaken was cited as an analogy for the process. This theory was challenged by the Swedish scientist Uno von Troil, who accompanied Joseph Banks to the island of Staffa off the Scottish coast in 1772. The grotto on Staffa, the entrance of which is flanked by a vast number of large basalt columns, was the most impressive display of this structure known in the eighteenth century (Plate 2). As a result of this expedition, von Troil was able to explain the genesis of basalt in such a way as to make it compatible with the Volcanists' agenda.(45) Von Troil maintained that the curious hexagonal column shape, many instances of which were found in proximity to the volcanoes described in William Hamilton's Observations, was a result of the regular splitting of lava as it cooled and shrank.(46)

The idea that volcanoes could produce regular crystal shapes pinpoints a characteristic difference between an anarchic revolutionary and an enlightened rational view of volcanoes. Basalt columns helped introduce an element of regularity and development into the Volcanist theory. It was not the singular moment of the eruption which produced basalt columns, but a chain of repeated eruptions each of which triggered a process of gradual development. This dissociated it from revolution. Yet this revised image still differed from Neptunist-style gradualism in that the force which produced change was not a divine (or an absolutist ruler's) master plan, but a force (or a ruler) which provided nature and society with inspiring `outbursts' of activity resulting in rational prototypes. This volcanic iconography was of course clarified for the interested visitor at Worlitz by Hamilton's Observations, displayed in Franz's Villa Hamilton on a table made out of volcanic lava.

At Worlitz, basalt columns as well as basalt artefacts functioned both as scientific and aesthetic features. By contrast, even those Neptunists who had come round to accepting that basalt was indeed of volcanic origin continued to attack it in the Aesthetic realm, arguing that its very appearance betrayed its dark and suspicious origins in a subterranean world of chaos. As Goethe famously put it:

Basalt, black devilish Negro,

Emerging from the deepest cave,

When mountains, stones and earth do crack,

Omega turns to Alpha,

And finally our dear old world,

Was geognostically turned upside down.(47)

The aesthetic quality and cultural connotations of basalt, however, had already become an issue in the English debate to which Franz alluded when he made basalt columns a feature of his garden iconography. What fascinated eighteenth-century writers like von Troil was the artificial appearance of basalt. Nature, it seemed, had created the definitive architectural form.

The topos of nature as an architectural force is in fact an old one and can be found in antiquity. Its origins have been analysed by Ernst Robert Curtius,(48) who traced it back to the Platonic conception of God as demiurge, that is as constructor and architect. According to Curtius, this notion of an architect-god, which informed both Eastern and Western civilization, originated in a primitive religion centred around the craftsman-god. Parallel to this, almost as a logical extension, Curtius argued, the notion of nature as constructor and architect developed -- the Deus artifex became Natura artifex.(49)

Some years before Curtius, Oskar Walzel underlined the significance of the theme in the eighteenth century, pointing to Shaftesbury's famous lines: `Such a poet is indeed a second maker; a just Prometheus, under Jove. Like that sovereign artist or universal plastick nature, he forms a whole, coherent and proportion'd in it-self, with due subjection and subordinancy of constituent parts'.(50) According to Walzel, the image of `universal plastick nature' can be traced throughout the eighteenth century, and culminated in Schelling's assertion that the universe itself was the most perfect work of art.(51) It certainly inspired the eighteenth-century fascination with the Isle of Staffa. Observers like Troil saw Staffa as an example of the order (not picturesque chaos) which natural forces had here produced, resembling a cultural order but even more perfect.(52) He made a direct comparison between famous examples of classical and contemporary architecture and the exquisite forms of the `nature-made Cave' on Staffa, especially of the colonnades employed in both. Staffa emerged as clearly superior. This `superiority', however, was not that of a different category altogether. Ultimately, both natural and human architecture were judged as a cultural form. Hence, Troil could refer to nature as the `mother of art' rather than its opposite.

Franz's recreation of the famous view of Staffa by means of the strikingly regular basalt columns in front of his volcano pays tribute to natural forces, manifest in the volcano itself, as prototypes of all human cultural production. At the same time, in a late eighteenth-century context, any allusion to Staffa was also bound to evoke Macpherson's Ossian. Macpherson had called the Staffa basalt formation Fingal's Cave, a term which invoked the world of ancient legendary Celtic heroes. The book, in which the singer Ossian bemoans the death of his father, the great warrior Fingal, soon became a prototype for sentimental writing both in England and in Germany. In fact, Ossian was not a Celtic text but a typical product of the eighteenth-century imagination, written to prove that Celtic poetry was just as ancient and just as meaningful as the famous classical epics.

It was typical of Franz to allow for two such seemingly contradictory layers of association in a single element of the garden. On the one hand, basalt columns were presented as evidence of the inherent rationality of nature. On the other hand, they functioned as a sentimental allusion to ancient Celtic culture. This kind of dialectic is particularly explicit in the Stein, but, as we have seen with regard to the themes of sentimentality and improvement, for example in the succession of bridges at Worlitz, it also ran like a guiding thread through the entire landscape.

The sentimental discourse about the past at Worlitz was therefore distinct from anything one could regard as proto-Romantic. Nature was represented as the source for the ultimate rationality of earth history. As such, nature also became a prototype for an `ideal order' in human affairs, according to which society could and indeed, should, be reconstructed. Nature, in short, was depicted not as a passive environment, but as a rational, constructive principle. For this reason, more emphatically than any comparable garden in England, Worlitz was a space for the celebration of construction. Such constructions, both physical and mental, followed natural paradigms, but did not attempt to, `be' nature. Franz invoked prototypes such as the volcano as allegories. The cultural norms and artefacts which Franz derived from its spirit, by contrast, were not disguised as natural. On the contrary, at Worlitz everything had a self-consciously artificial character.

Among art historians, this prominent role of reproduction has inspired a widespread contempt for the eighteenth century as a `derivative' age, unable to develop its own adequate artistic forms. With regard to landscape gardens in particular, this has led to an overemphasis on the allegedly `proto-Romantic' natural qualities of the new gardens. Their rational character, by contrast, and the extent to which they took up both ancient and Renaissance themes, were played down, as these, again, were believed to have been `merely' derivative. Positive assessments of cultural production as reproduction remain the exception rather than the rule. Moreover, such accounts are usually concerned not so much with the `message' of the work of art as with its economic context.(53)

The Stein, however, made a point of celebrating the process of reproduction as valuable in itself. In his villas in and around Naples, William Hamilton had exhibited real `Etruscan' and Greek vases excavated from the surrounding areas. In the Worlitz Villa Hamilton, however, Franz chose to exhibit Wedgwood vases in their place. This might appear a trivial difference, probably due to the fact that Franz was unable to afford originals. There are, however, numerous instances at Worlitz, both in the garden and in the Palladian house, which testify to a preference for imitations and artistic reproductions even when the imitations were equally or even slightly more expensive than the originals.(54) Similarly, the Wedgwood theme is a guiding thread which runs through the entire landscape. Wedgwood vases, for example, especially those in the `black basalt' style, were also exhibited elsewhere, notably in the main house itself, and constituted the most comprehensive Wedgwood collection outside England.(55) Moreover, Wedgwood's reproductions of classical vases underwent a further process of conspicuous reproduction at Worlitz, when they in turn became models for architectural features. The Wachhaus zum Pferde in the garden (Plate 3), for example, is modelled directly on a vase which was one of Wedgwood's more prominent models (Plate 4). The interior decoration of the Flora temple features several stages of reproduction, with frescoes depicting both entire Wedgwood vases in the characteristic Jasper style (including the Portland Vase), as well as isolated motifs taken from such vases, which here figure as ornaments (Plate 5). Such multiple reproductions made a point of toying with different materials and genres, to which the same themes are playfully applied so as to reveal that their reproduction was part of their very essence. The fact that at Worlitz reproduction of both natural and cultural prototypes was not merely practised but displayed so blatantly that it achieved the status of a cultural paradigm in its own right, indicates that in the eighteenth century the ideas of nature and `naturalism' on the one hand, and of art and artificiality on the other were not necessarily intellectual opposites, but could be closely intertwined. The appreciation of nature was not conceived as a counterbalance to art, but as a kind of `engine' of inspiration and a model for cultural production.

Viewed from this perspective, the integration of a volcano into a landscape garden was much less of an idiosyncrasy than it might today appear. Hamilton and Franz, while rationalizing nature, did not wish to impose a rational order on to it. Unlike the baroque garden, the classicist landscape garden was designed to emancipate the constructive potential inherent in nature. This constructive potential was not conceived as a direct replica of human rationality. Nature was accepted as a force sometimes erratic and beyond direct human control. Yet in learning from nature, rather than trying to repress it at all costs, these constructive energies could be mobilized. More importantly, they could serve as a model for constructing, or reconstructing, human society. This ultimately was the volcano's role in the political iconography of Worlitz: a starting point for the symbolic construction of nature and an allegory for the political reconstruction of society through the mobilization of natural potential.



At Worlitz, visual culture functioned like a complex text. It did not present a single, static image of the absolutist ruler, but mapped out strategies of `improvement' which were applicable to different situations. This flexibility became increasingly important as the eighteenth century progressed. The creation of Worlitz began almost thirty years after Frederick II wrote his political manifesto, the Anti-Machiavell. The Stein was created another twenty years after this. In the intervening period, the Enlightenment itself had transcended straightforward rationalism and had become increasingly complex, varied and conscious of the extent to which `practicality' and `usefulness' depended on the specific situation. The multi-layered meanings of a visual text like Worlitz were much better suited to this changing intellectual context than a single image or even a theoretical tract. By appealing to different senses and sensitivities, and by synthesizing different models, Worlitz managed to convey that experimental, pragmatic and empirical quality of the kind of Enlightenment that Franz had appreciated in England.

This new understanding of Enlightenment found its clearest expression in the Stein itself. It can therefore justifiably be regarded as the intellectual core, not only of the Worlitz landscape garden, but also of Franz's overall intellectual and political vision. The Stein alluded to the aims of `improvement', but it suggested a new way to achieve these aims as well. Not a rational prescriptive master-plan, but spontaneous and continual change, so the iconography of Volcanism implied, would produce rational results analogous to the perfect shape of the basalt columns. Franz's opposition to the dominant Neptunist view in Germany was the scientific and, by virtue of its representation in the Worlitz landscape, the metaphorical equivalent of his rejection of the dirigiste approach to political change which defined `enlightened' policies in the larger states of the German Empire.

The alternative image of improvement propagated here was that of an ongoing process of change which would be inspired by microcosmic models or prototypes. Franz's political practice evolved in the same manner. In domestic politics, he attempted to implement a uniquely ambitious programme with a minimum of state intervention. Rather than legislating change, he created models designed to encourage imitation and flexible adaptation. In agriculture, one of his main aims was, as already, noted, to introduce a clover-based crop rotation. He propagated the new method in the Worlitz gardens and on his model farms, giving local farmers who inspected the results free seeds as well as access to the necessary scientific literature. In education, he aimed at reform through a combination of Rousseauian and utilitarian principles. Here again, he refrained from changing the existing curricula and teaching methods by decree. Instead, he created an alternative model by founding the Philantropin, a new type of school which he hoped would be widely imitated. As far as commercial development was concerned, Franz again opted for a `liberal' strategy. He founded a range of model companies like the Chalkographische Gesellschaft, from which he soon withdrew all direct support by turning it into a publicly owned, joint-stock company.(56)

Franz was consistently careful not to legislate directly against existing customs, but merely to set inspiring precedents. This strategy was partly a result of his realization that a more prescriptive approach would have created disobedience of the kind that Joseph II constantly complained. But it was also a typical product of the pragmatic and historical sensitivities cultivated by the Spataufklarung. Its practical effects can be traced in the politics of many late eighteenth-century German states -- last, but not least, in the Prussian General Code (Allgemeines Landrecht) of 1794, which attempted to reconcile Frederick's ideal of universal rationalism with regional customs and traditions.

Franz's foreign policy, too, reflected the ideal of progress which he first developed at Worlitz. Here, his main aim was to oppose Germany's domination by states like Prussia and, instead, to work for the revival of the imperial structure as a loose federal framework within which a wide range of different enlightened regimes could coexist peacefully. The small German states, Franz argued, were to act as champions of German liberties and regional diversity.(57) In a sense, they, too, were to function as political microcosms for the expression of different views of the Enlightenment.

The visual language of Worlitz illustrates the connections between Franz's domestic and foreign policies. Certain parts of Worlitz were explicitly devoted to imperial issues. Most notable among these was the Neo-Gothic House with its collections of artefacts relating to the small states' role in German history, as well as to various `model' constitutions which suggested that regional diversity was more conducive to progress than standardization.(58) More subtly, the structure of the garden itself, with its many independent component parts, also reflected Franz's ideal of liberal small-state individualism. The plausibility of this analogy is enhanced by the fact that the structure of Worlitz was unique even among those landscape gardens -- Stowe, Stourhead, Rousham -- which Franz directly imitated. Of course, many of the former were of a heterogeneous character, and some, like Stourhead, even had a circular path leading the visitor through several distinct stages of a metaphorical narrative.(59) Yet only Worlitz was a genuinely `composite' garden that contained a whole range of self-contained iconographical and aesthetic `units': the sentimental garden surrounding the Palladian Villa, interspersed with allusions to friendship and moralizing inscriptions placed inconspicuously under the trees; the `political' landscape dominated by the Neo-Gothic House and its historical themes; gardens devoted to agricultural experimentation with fruit tree plantations and functional buildings in a primitive `organic' gothic style; intricate labyrinthine gardens reflecting the stages of philosophical and moral recognition; and many more besides.(60) In this composite structure, Worlitz reflected Franz's preference for thinking about the world in terms of microcosms and prototypes, and about the German empire in terms of a multitude of independent states. The many gardens within the Worlitz landscape were as varied and independent as the small imperial territories, and like Franz's federal imperial ideal, the Worlitz landscape united them under a single `umbrella' without subjecting their individual characters to a dominant centre or a hierarchical order.(61)

The analogy between Franz's visual and political languages is further strengthened by the fact that he invoked the same ideas in his political, correspondence. This is especially true for his letters relating to questions of imperial reform and the idea of a small-state Furstenbund (League of Princes). Here, Franz consistently employed an English-inspired rhetoric of sentimentalism to suggest that the Furstenbund would function in analogy with sentimental friendships, creating a firm bond between the enlightened principalities of Germany while preserving small-state `individualism'.(62) However, the very general allusions to such concepts in Franz's letters cannot alone explain the high regard in which he was held by contemporaries as a great imperial reformer. The Worlitz estate itself, where many of the secret Furstenbund meetings were held, must have served to clarify Franz's ideas and convince his contemporaries of the fact that he was one of the leading reformers of his age, both in his domestic policies and in German imperial politics.(63)

To summarize, the iconography of Worlitz and the volcanic theme at its intellectual centre illustrate the emergence of a mode of thinking which was particularly suited to the specific requirements and political ambitions of the small member-states of the German empire. Volcanism was emblematic of an approach to `improvement' that was English-inspired, pragmatic and `liberal'. On the imperial stage, this approach could be associated with a defence of small territories united in a non-hierarchical, political framework against the rise of large, fiscal-military states. Yet it was an approach which never adequately manifested itself in written documents. Although Franz's political correspondence was suffused with related paradigms, he never wrote a theoretical programme or summary of his political creeds, and there was no large bureaucratic apparatus which produced written policy guidelines or even recorded strategic political decisions. It is therefore legitimate to regard the iconography of Worlitz itself as a variety of the genre of political and philosophical `texts' by which enlightened monarchs often justified their reign and developed their political visions.

Due to the complex network of reference points which its images brought to mind, Worlitz was a type of `text' which was more compatible with the critique of pure rationalism inherent in the intellectual movements of the second half of the eighteenth century than, for example, Frederick II's political essays. At the same time, its political contents extended beyond the mere illustration of specific policies. Visual culture had become a means for inventing and defining new political identities. It is in its images, therefore, that we can observe the creativity of a historical epoch which developed new political approaches within traditional frameworks, debated alternatives to the rise of the Prussian-style state, and redefined the old empire in a strikingly `modern' sense.

(1) The Warburg revival expressed itself, for example, in the restoration of the Kulturwissenschaftliche Bibliothek in Hamburg, and in a series of Warburg conferences; see Horst Bredekamp, Michael Diers and Charlotte Schoell-Glass (eds.), Aby Warburg: Akten des internationalen Symposions, Hamburg, 1990 (Weinheim, 1991). Although the Warburg school presented the first concerted attack on Wolfflin's stylistic tradition of art history, it coexisted with other art historical strands not primarily concerned with questions of style, notably the so-called Viennese school, founded by Max Dvorak, which aimed at writing art history as Geistesgeschichte, Hans Sedlmayr being one of its products. Others, such as Ludwig Volkmann, Bilderschriften der Renaissance: Hieroglyphik und Emblematik in ihren Beziehungen und Fortwirkungen (Leipzig, 1923), developed iconographical approaches alongside, but independently of, Warburg.

(2) This is especially true for those historians who have only recently embraced a more culturally oriented approach. Hans-Ulrich Wehler, for example, editor of Kulturgeschichte heute (Geschichte and Gesellschaft, 16th supplement, 1996), in the introduction to his Deutsche Gesellschaftgeschichte argues the case for history defined as the interaction of politics, culture and economics, as equally important, autonomous spheres, yet the body of the book's narrative frequently views culture and its institutions as mere reflections of social and political structures. Hans-Ulrich Wehler, Deutsche Gesellschaftgeschichte, 4 vols. (Munich, 1989-), i, Vom Feudalismus des Alten Reiches bis zur Defensiven Modernisierung der Reformara, 1700-1815, 7-9.

(3) Peter Burke, The Fabrication of Louis XIV (New Haven, 1992), can be regarded as a model historical analysis for the seventeenth-century interaction of politics and representational art.

(4) Although the notion of the autonomy of the work of art is absolutely central to Winckelmann's art descriptions, there are few explicit statements of this idea. This is due to the nature of Winckelmann's writing, which was not concerned with formulating an abstract theory of art but with recreating art's ingenuity by describing it poetically. The best historical account of this position is Helmut Pfotenhauer, `Winckelmann und Heinse: Die Typen der Beschreibungskunst im 18. Jahrhundert oder die Geburt der neueren Kunstgeschichte', in Helmut Pfotenhauer (ed.), Beschreibungskunst -- Kunstbeschreibung: Ekphrasis von der Antike bis zur Gegenwart (Munich, 1995), esp. 313.

(5) A causal connection between the autonomous artistic genius of the eighteenth century and the idea of the totalitarian leader-genius of the twentieth century is implied in Jochen Schmidt, Die Geschichte des Geniegedankens in der deutschen Literatur, Philosophie und Politik, 1750-1945, 2 vols. (Darmstadt, 1985), i, Von der Aufklarung bis zum Idealismus.

(6) An important representative of this view is Nicholas Boyle, Goethe: The Poet and the Age, i, The Poetry of Desire, 1749-1790 (Oxford, 1991).

(7) This dilemma was first pointed out in an important but much neglected article by Kurt von Raumer, `Absoluter Staat, korporative Libertat, personliche Freiheit', Historische Zeitschrift, clxxxiii (1957).

(8) Horst Moller, Vernunft und Kritik: Deutsche Aufklarung im 17. und 18. Jahrhundert (Frankfurt-on-Main, 1986), 203.

(9) T. C. W. Blanning, `Frederick the Great and German Culture' in G. C. Gibbs, Robert Oresko and Hamish Scott (eds.), Royal and Republican Sovereignty in Early Modern Europe: Essays in Memory of Ragnhild Hatton (Cambridge, 1996), argues that, in Frederick's view, German culture could only flourish after the right political preconditions had been created, that is, after the Holy Roman Empire had been superseded by the rise of autonomous fiscal-military states like Prussia. To some extent, the situation in Prussia changed after Frederick's death. The constitutive role of visual sources in redefining the Prussian state in the 1790s is the subject of E. H. Hellmuth, `A Monument to Frederick the Great -- Architecture, Politics and the State in Late Eighteenth-Century Prussia', in E. H. Hellmuth and J. Brewer (eds.), Rethinking Leviathan: The Eighteenth-Century State in Britain and Germany (Oxford, forthcoming 1998).

(10) Justus Moser, Osnabruckische Geschichte (1768-80), in his Samtliche Werke, 14 vols. (Gottingen, 1943-90), xii, 33-4. Statements like this must not be mistaken for political nostalgia. Recent studies of Moser, such as Jonathan B. Knudsen, Justus Moser and the German Enlightenment (Cambridge, 1986), esp. 3-19, 164-86, and especially Karl H. L. Welcker, Rechtsgeschichte als Rechtspolitik: Justus Moser als Jurist und Staatsmann, 2 vols. (Osnabruck, 1996), challenge the traditional view of Moser as a `conservative' and emphasize the pragmatic and innovative aspects of his small-state political cosmos.

(11) The traditional view found its most extreme expression in Adrien Fauchier-Magnan, The Small German Courts in the Eighteenth Century, trans. Mervyn Savill (London, 1958); first published as Les Petits Courts d'Allemagne au [XVIII.sup.eme] siecle (Paris, 1947). The defence of the small states started very much as a defence of the structure of the Holy Roman Empire as a whole, which is now largely regarded as a practical political organization in which a multiplicity of different German states could peacefully coexist. This view was pioneered by Karl Otmar Freiherr von Aretin, Heiliges Romisches Reich, 1776-1806: Reichsverfassung und Staatssouveranitat (Wiesbaden, 1967); Volker Press, `Das Romisch-Deutsche Reich -- ein politisches System in verfassungs- und sozialgeschichtlicher Fragestellung', in Grete Klingenstein und Heinrich Lutz (eds.), Spezialforschung und `Gesamtgeschichte': `Beispiele und Methodenfragen zur Geschichte der fruhen Neuzeit (Wiener Beitrage zur Geschichte der Neuzeit, viii, Vienna, 1981); John G. Gagliardo, Reich and Nation: The Holy Roman Empire as Idea and Reality, 1763-1806 (Bloomington, 1980). More recently, useful studies of reforms in specific territories have complemented this picture. Examples whose relevance far exceeds local history are Charles W. Ingrao, The Hessian Mercenary State: Ideas, Institutions, and Reform under Frederick II, 1760-1785 (Cambridge, 1987); Manfred Rudersdorf, `Das Gluck der Bettler': Justus Moser und die Welt der Armen: Mentalitat und soziale Frage im Furstbistum Osnabruck zwischen Aufklarung und Sakularisation (Munster, 1995), 155-313.

(12) `Goethe to Geheimrat C. G. von Voigt, 26 Jan. 1815', in Goethe, Werke (Weimarer Ausgabe, 143 vols., Weimar, 1887-1919 [hereafter WA], IV, xxv), 175.

(13) The sentimental rhetoric through which Franz established himself as a founder of the German League of Princes is the subject of my article, `The Politics of Sentimentality and the German Furstenbund, 1779-1785', Hist. Jl (forthcoming 1998).

(14) A useful survey of this Anglophilia is Michael Maurer, Aufklarung und Anglophilie in Deutschland (Veroffentlichungen des Deutschen Historischen Instituts, London, xix, Gottingen, 1987).

(15) The surviving correspondence between Franz and Shelburne concerns personal memories of Franz's visits, but also the subject of agriculture and the patronage of various deserving scientists, including Georg Forster: Bodleian Library, Oxford, MS. Film, De 972, no. 33. Shelburne's improvement initiatives are also mentioned on numerous occasions in Georg Heinrich von Berenhorst, `Journal de voyage des princes Leopold Frederic Francois et Jean George d'Anhalt du 18 octobre jusqu'au 3 mars 1768': Herzogliche Bibliothek zu Dessau, HB, 8089; `Tagebuch der Furstin Louise, Originalhandschrift': Landesarchiv Oranienbaum, Abt. Dessau, [A9.sup.e] no. 15 (3). For a more detailed analysis of all these, see Maiken Umbach, `Franz of Anhalt-Dessau and England: The Worlitz Landscape Garden and Anti-Prussian Politics in the Late Enlightenment' (Univ. of Cambridge Ph.D. thesis, 1996).

(16) `Journal Kept by Sir Charles Cottrell-Dormer, M. C. to George III, Contains a Notice of the King's Marriage to Queen Charlotte & of the Birth & Christening of George IV': Cottrell-Dormer family Rousham, fo. 62, Sept. 1763.

(17) Quoted from Friedrich Reil, Leopold Friedrich Franz, Herzog und Furst von Anhalt-Dessau, altestregierender Furst von Anhalt, nach seinem Wirken und Wesen (Dessau, 1845; Worlitz, 1995), 68.

(18) From the pioneering `leaps' of William Kent onwards, all major landscape gardens relied on this new mode of perception, irrespective of specific stylistic phases. A connection between new modes of perception in eighteenth-century garden aesthetics and science is established in M. Baridon, `Literature, the Visual Arts and the Scientific Movement in Augustan England', Rivista di letterature moderne e comparate, xliii (1993). See also David R. Coffin, The English Garden: Meditation and Memorial (Princeton, 1994), esp. 149-224.

(19) For example, Ludwig Trauzettel, `Die Worlitzer Anlagen in Geschichte und Gegenwart', in Der englische Garten zu Worlitz, 2nd edn (Berlin and Munich, 1994), esp. 204-8; Harri Gunther, `Die Sichtachsen in den Worlitzer Anlagen', in E. Hirsch and T. Hohle (eds.), Dessau-Worlitz Beitrage, ii (Halle, 1988).

(20) According to the standard mythological lexicon of eighteenth-century Germany, Egeria frequently advised Numa on his legislation: Benjamin Hederich, Grundliches Lexicon Mythologicum (Leipzig, 1724), col. 794.

(21) The visit is attested to, for example, by Berenhorst, `Journal de voyage des princes', fo. 100.

(22) Reil, Leopold Friedrich Franz, 207-8.

(23) Landscapes as sites of memory feature most frequently in nineteenth- and twentieth-century historiography. The approaches gathered in Pierre Nora (ed.), Les Lieux de memoire, 3 vols. (Paris, 1984-92), can be regarded as a representative sample of this genre. Simon Schama, Landscape and Memory (London, 1995), esp. 3-22, 517-45, contains more material on the eighteenth century in particular, yet his notion of collective memory signifies a set of symbolic expressions of human emotions, the use of which is at best semi-conscious, and only changes superficially over time.

(24) This model was pointed out by August Rode, Beschreibung des Furstlichen Anhalt-Dessauischen Landhauses und englischen Gartens zu Worlitz (Dessau, 1798), 209; repr. in Der Englische Garten zu Worlitz, 9-139.

(25) A useful introduction to Hamilton's intellectual activities is Ian Jenkins and Kim Sloan (eds.), Vases and Volcanoes: Sir William Hamilton and his Collection (London, 1996).

(26) William Hamilton, Observations on Mount Vesuvius, Mount Etna, and Other Volcanoes: In a Series of Letters, Addressed to the Royal Society, ed. T. Cadell, 2nd edn (London, 1773).

(27) Carl August to Carl Ludwig von Knebel, Worlitz, 7 July 1780', in K. A. Varnhagen von Ense and T. Mundt (eds.), Carl Ludwig von Knebel's literarischer Nachla[Beta] und Briefwechsel, 2nd edn, 3 vols. (Leipzig, 1840), i, 111.

(28) A scientific survey of the history of this subject is Fred M. Bullard, Volcanoes of the Earth (Austin, 1976).

(29) `Tagebuch der Furstin Louise, Originalhandschrift', 2 Oct. 1775, fo. 68.

(30) Hamilton, Observations on Mount Vesuvius, 41. Volcanic eruptions were a popular subject for painters in this period. Best known among these is the series produced by Joseph Wright of Derby, who also painted the scientific experiments of the Lunar Society.

(31) Rode, Beschreibung, 218-19.

(32) Gunter Hartmann, Die Ruine im Landschaftsgarten: Ihre Bedeutung fur den fruhen Historismus und die Landschaftsmalerei der Romantik (Quellen und Forschung zur Gartenkunst, iii, Worms, 1982); similarly, Beat Wyss, `Der Vesuv von Worlitz: Illuminierte Aufklarung im kleinstaatlichen Deutschland', in Georg Kohler (ed.), Die schone Kunst der Verschwendung: Fest und Feuerwerk in der europaischen Geschichte (Zurich and Munich, 1988).

(33) Michael Ruffer, `Zur Ikonographie des "Steins" im Park von Worlitz' (Marburg Univ. M.A. thesis, 1993), 8-9, 17-38.

(34) Quoted from Frank Dawson Adams, The Birth and Development of the Geological Sciences (London, 1938), 247. Adams discusses the theological implication of Volcanism (209-49).

(35) Hamilton, Observations on Mount Vesuvius, 40-1.

(36) Ibid., 47.

(37) Ibid., 92.

(38) `British volcanists were ... cosmopolitan, cultured gentlemen of the Enlightenment': Roy Porter, The Making of Geology: Earth Science in Britain, 1660-1815 (Cambridge, 1977), 124, 160-5.

(39) In his definition, Roy Porter specifically emphasized the dynamic quality of the Volcanists' enlightened outlook: `Christian natural theology had minimised the role of volcanoes and earthquakes in history ... But to Enlightened volcanists these phenomena ... must be wisely designed to play a necessary, constructive part in the Earth's economy. Strange and Hamilton ... serenely studied volcanoes as integral to Nature's economy ... Volcanoes were to be a central battlefield in the "revolution and stasis" paradigm of Earth history ... Volcanoes realized the Enlightenment dynamic of natural philosophy' (ibid., 124).

(40) Goethe, Faust, Part II, IV, i (in Werke, WA, I, xxv/1, 247).

(41) `Goethe to Carl Friedrich Zelter, June 1827', Zahme Xenien (ibid., v/1, 137). The decaying castles stand for the decadence of French pre-Revolution absolutism, which, unlike the gradualist approach of reformed absolutism favoured by Goethe, provoked violent reactions from the oppressed population.

(42) Benjamin Hederich, Grundliches Lexicon Mythologicum, revised edn (Leipzig, 1770), cols. 2,485-6.

(43) It seems that Franz took an active interest in the experiments with cast iron which had led to the construction of the Coalbrookdale Bridge. A useful survey of the role of the Darbys as promoters of industrial technology is Arthur Raistrick, Dynasty of Iron Founders: The Darbys and Coalbrookdale, 2nd revised edn (York, 1989), esp. 65-99 (on the bridge in particular, 193-207). Franz's understanding of the underlying process of production is attested to by the fact that he used Raseneisenstein (limonite), a specific type of iron ore, the raw material for the production of cast iron, as a conspicuous aesthetic element at Worlitz. See A. Bechtoldt and T. Weiss (eds.), Weltbild Worlitz, Entwurf einer Kulturlandschaft (Worlitz, 1996), 370. Limonite was used not only to create an appropriate setting for the cast-iron bridge itself, but also in many instances throughout the garden and even as an integral part of the architecture, most prominently in the Eisenhart pavilion, which derives its very name from this material. As the principal library pavilion, the Eisenhart provided the theoretical basis for Franz's ideas on `improvement', and the fact that its walls were decorated with rugged limonite thus gains added significance. The limonite itself came from Anhalt: see M.-L. Harksen and E. Haetge, Landkreis Dessau-Kothen, i, Die Stadt Kothen und der Landkreis au[Beta]er Worlitz (Burg by Magdeburg, 1943), 10; and it is likely that Franz was at least speculating that the success of the Darbys might some day be imitated in Anhalt-Dessau. Irrespective of whether Franz entertained such practical plans, the conspicuous display of iron ore at Worlitz can certainly be seen as a celebration of man's productive ingenuity. In this way, limonite complemented the iconography of basalt which alluded to nature's productive potential.

(44) According to Rode, Beschreibung, 210, the actual columns had been delivered by Stolpe from Saxony.

(45) Uno von Troil, Briefe welche eine von Herrn Dr. von Troil im Jahre 1772 nach Island angestellte Reise betreffen, ed. Johann Peter Moller (Uppsala and Leipzig, 1779), 250-2.

(46) For the modern view of basalt columns, see Klaus-Henning Georgi, Kreislauf der Gesteine (Reinbek bei Hamburg, 1972), esp. 226-7.

(47) Goethe, Zahme Xenien, VI (1827) (in Werke, WA, I, iii, 358).

(48) Ernst Robert Curtius, Europaische Literatur und lateinisches Mittelalter (Berne, 1954), 527-9.

(49) Ibid., 529.

(50) Oskar Walzel, Das Prometheussymbol von Shaftesbury zu Goethe, 3rd edn (Munich, 1932), 11-15, quotation from 11 (added emphasis).

(51) Ibid., 15.

(52) Von Troil, Briefe welche eine von Herrn Dr. von Troil, 256.

(53) An example of the latter category is Neil McKendrick, J. Brewer and J. H. Plumb, The Birth of a Consumer Society: The Commercialization of Eighteenth-Century England (London, 1982).

(54) This point is especially evident in the use of locally produced fake marble in the Landhaus. The complex process by which it was produced was at least as expensive as importing the original material.

(55) According to Uwe Quilitzsch, `Wedgwood fur Worlitz', in T. Weiss (ed.), 1795-1995: Wedgwood: Englische Keramik in Worlitz (Leipzig, 1995). The overall size is measured in terms of the number of individual pieces purchased, as opposed to a large single set like Catherine II's Frog Service. Quilitzsch reprints all the documents relating to the contacts between Franz and the Wedgwood factory.

(56) For a brief outline of Franz's domestic reform projects, see E. Hirsch, Dessau-Worlitz, Zierde und Inbegriff des XVIII. Jahrhunderts, 2nd revised edn (Munich, 1988). A critical comparative analysis of Franz's reform projects in education and agriculture is provided in my book, Federalism and Enlightenment in Germany, 1740-1806 (London, forthcoming 1998).

(57) The imperial dimension of Franz's politics is analyzed in great detail in Umbach, `The Politics of Sentimentality and the German Furstenbund, 1779-1785'.

(58) The Worlitz Gothic House as a representation of Franz's imperial ideal is analyzed in Umbach, Federalism and Enlightenment in Germany.

(59) The progression through the Stourhead landscape, for example, has variously been likened to the founding myth of Rome or a path of Christian virtues. A summary of the debate is provided by Kenneth Woodbridge, Landscape and Antiquity: Aspects of English Culture at Stourhead, 1718-1838 (Oxford, 1970). The Christian overtones of the iconography have been emphasized by Malcolm Kelsall, `The Iconography of Stourhead', Jl Warburg and Courtauld Inst., xlvi (1983). An excellent analysis of the interplay between individual garden icons constituting an overall dialectic of meanings is John Dixon Hunt, `Verbal and Visual Meanings in Garden History: The Case of Rousham', in John Dixon Hunt (ed.), Garden History: Issues, Approaches, Methods (Washington, 1992).

(60) The best comprehensive description of the Worlitz garden remains Rode Beschreibung. Useful modern garden histories are L. Trauzettel, `Die Worlitzer Anlagen: Geschichte und Gegenwart', in Der Englische Garten zu Worlitz; Bechtoldt and Weiss (eds.), Weltbild Worlitz, which also contains a comprehensive Worlitz bibliography.

(61) In this way, Worlitz differed not only from other eighteenth-century landscape gardens, but also from earlier compartmentalized mannerist and baroque gardens, such as Versailles, where the different sections of the garden were entirely dominated by one overpowering centre.

(62) Examples cited in Umbach, `The Politics of Sentimentality and the German Furstenbund, 1779-1785'.

(63) A full survey of contemporary responses to Franz's domestic policies can be found in E. Hirsch, `Progressive Leistungen und reaktionare Tendenzen des Dessau-Worlitzer Kulturkreises in der Rezeption der aufgeklarten Zeitgenossen, 1770-1815: Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der deutschen Ideologie im Zeitalter der Franzosischen Revolution' (Univ. of Halle-Wittenberg Ph.D. thesis, 1969). It is less well known that Franz was also regarded as a leading actor on the imperial stage, for example, by Wilhelm von Edelsheim, a leading enlightened reformer who, in his role as foreign minister of the state of Baden, is usually credited with the invention of the German union of small states, most recently by Friedrich Sengle, Das Genie und sein Furst (Stuttgart and Weimar, 1993), 65. Yet Edelsheim himself regarded Franz of Anhalt-Dessau as its true founding father: `Edelsheim to Carl August of Saxe-Weimar, Hanau, 24 Oct. 1782', as quoted in Willy Andreas and Hans Tummler (eds.), Politischer Briefwechsel des Herzogs und Gro[Beta]herzogs Carl August von Weimar, 3 vols. (Stuttgart, 1954-73), i, Von den Anfangen der Regierung bis zum Ende des Furstenbundes 1778-1790, 77-8.
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Author:Umbach, Maiken
Publication:Past & Present
Date:Feb 1, 1998
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