Yes, Wonderful Things!

Skokloster Castle

Gold, silver and gemstones in the Skokloster collections.

From Wrangel's Time
One could easily think that Skokloster Castle is overflowing with things from Count Carl Gustav Wrangel’s age, that war booty and precious luxury items are stacked to the ceiling in every room. But it is not that simple. There are, of course, many objects from Wrangel and his period, but their history is lacking in many cases and we cannot always be sure of the provenance of the objects. Among the older objects in the house there are, however, some of high quality that fit very well into a princely environment like Wrangel’s. Click on the images and then on "details" for more information!

This beaker of rhinoceros horn displays a hunting motif, but on the lid we see Amor, the small god of love and desire, and underneath, hidden from the viewer’s eyes, a couple in “a loving embrace”.

This cup is made from the shell of a cephalopod (Nautilidae). It once belonged to Charles I of Mecklenburg (1540-1610). The style indicates that it was inspired by the great goldsmith Wenzel Jamnitzer.

The gilt silver parts of this cup were made around 1590 and depict Prudence. This could very well be the cup that Wrangel won in a marksman’s competition.

This piece has no apparent use. It is made of agate with mounting in gilt silver and enamel and set with white opal, garnet, amethyst, emerald, hessonite garnet, olivine, zircon and sapphire, amongst others.

Bowl by Ottavio Miseroni (1567-1624), stone carver at the court of Emperor Rudolf II. This bowl may very well have been taken during the looting of Prague in 1648, when Swedish troops pillaged the castle.

This mirror is one of the few personal items left from Carl Gustaf Wrangel. An officer at war wanted the comforts of home in the tent camp and therefore brought along entire interiors.

Every castle has at least a few objects with a remarkable past – objects immersed in history. These legends are often fascinating, but usually more or less invented. Many legends have a well-known person involved, like in the case of the garnet studded cup, that was said to have belonged to the Lord High Chancellor Axel Oxenstierna, confidant of King Gustavus Adolphus and his daughter, Queen Christina. Or the ring that King Gustavus Adolphus is said to have given to Ebba Brahe for their engagement. Despite being obviously made up, these stories give a certain aura to the objects.

King Gustav I of Sweden (1496-1560) most likely never owned a snuff box. Tobacco was introduced in Sweden around 1600 and then as medicinal treatment. The style of the box suggests late 17th Century.

Queen Gunilla, married to King John III of Sweden between 1585 and 1592, is described as strong and influential both by her contemporaries and later historians. It has been claimed that this flacon was hers.

This is another flacon that was believed to have belonged to Queen Gunilla. Unfortunately both bottles were made in the 18th century, so this story was also too good to be true.

When this cup was bought in 1814 it was said that it had belonged to the Lord High Chancellor Axel Oxenstierna, but in reality it was made after his death. A more likely owner was his grandson by the same name.

King Gustavus Adolphus proposed to Countess Ebba Brahe in 1613, but their alliance was not accepted by their parents. This ring is supposed to have been their engagement ring, but stylistically it appears to be made in the 18th Century.

Count Fritz Piper, who donated the pen case to Skokloster, claimed that it had belonged to King Louis XIV (1638-1715) but a maker’s stamp shows that it was made later - between 1819 and 1838.

The significance of religion to the European history can hardly be overrated. The church had an enormous impact on daily life and many magnificent an object has been manufactured for religious purposes. There are a lot of treasures with religious motifs at Skokloster Castle.

The renowned goldsmith Gustaf Stafhäll made this set for Margaretha Bonde and Abraham Brahe in 1717. The chalice and paten were used for celebrating private communion. It was common for the wealthy to have a private priest.

This silver box with filigree decorations, intended for the communion wafers, was bought as a complement to the chalice and paten.

This silver jug has belonged to the very wealthy bishop Carolus Carlsson. There is a story about a Dean's wife, Christina Gangius, who fainted from disbelief, when she saw the bishop's silver chamber.

A bishop is a shepherd for his flock, the diocese. The crosier, shaped like a shepherd’s crook, is his symbol. This crosier was made in the 13th Century in Limoges, a city famous for enamel works.

Before 1900 most Swedish families owned only one book: the hymn book. An ornate and richly decorated hymn book of this kind, with a silver cover and its owner’s initials in enamel, was a sign of wealth.

This silver relief depicts S:t John the Baptist baptising Jesus. It was made somewhere in Central Europe around 1700.

Count Magnus Brahe (1790-1844), owner of Skokloster, was close friends with the king, Charles XIV John (1763-1844) and received many gifts from him. Magnus Brahe stayed but short periods at Skokloster, most likely only for Ascension weekend each year. In spite of this he spent enormous sums renovating the castle and filling it with treasures. These are some of the gifts that he received from his friend, the king, and that helped completing the impression of abundance.

The dishes were made in Augsburg in the late 17th Century. They are typical examples of objects denoting wealth and refined taste.

The jug on the left, by David Schwestermüller of Augsburg, and the jug on the right, by an unknown master, are also gifts to Magnus Brahe from his friend King Charles XIV John.

Between 1814 and 1905, Sweden and Norway formed a union and shared the same king. This set was used by King Charles XIV John, but only when he was in Norway, where he was known as Charles III John.

This portrait medallion was a gift to Magnus Brahe after the death of his friend, Charles XIV John in 1844, from the new King Oscar I. Brahe only wore it for a few months before he passed away the same year.

Skokloster Castle
Credits: Story

Text: Gösta Sandell and Sara Dixon
Photo: Helena Bonnevier

Credits: All media
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