In May 1803, Schinkel set off on his
first trip to Italy to study the Classical architecture that so fascinated him. He travelled with his friend and fellow artist Johann Gottfried Steinmeyer via Dresden, Prague, Vienna, Trieste, Venice, Padua, Bologna, Florence and Sienna before arriving in Rome in September 1803.
He noted his first impressions of the Eternal City in his journal,
"Suddenly the sight of the world’s first temple strikes … into my heart like a lightning bolt, and then, spreading out gradually in the rich plain on its 7 hills the expanse of Rome with its countless treasures unfolds before my amazed eyes."
But while he was in Rome his interest
was roused not so much by his study of Antiquity as by the spatial arrangement of the city, as this drawing clearly shows.
At the centre of the composition is the Capitol with the Senators’ Palace, with outbuildings such as stables and sheds placed in front of them.
Schinkel noted in his travel journal,
"… every step reveals something remarkable. Impressions crowd in constantly and my thoughts rush ceaselessly through all the different ages whose traces are so colourfully thrown together here."
Schinkel visited Italy on another two occasions. Throughout his life he travelled extensively throughout Europe as well as to every corner of the Prussian state. During these private and professional trips he struck up and maintained friendships with important colleagues and scholars such as Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, but he also found inspiration in his travels for Romantic compositions.
While travelling with his wife, Susanne, via Dresden and Prague to the Austrian Salzkammergut region in 1811, he stopped at the Königssee lake in Bavaria. Schinkel immortalised the boat trip the young couple took together there in one of the most magnificent and impressive pen-and-ink drawings of his held by the Kupferstichkabinett.
On that trip to the Salzkammergut Susanne Schinkel was five months pregnant with their second daughter. The couple married in 1809 and by 1822 had four children together, the three girls Marie, Susanne and Elisabeth and their son Karl Raphael. Schinkel portrayed the whole family in a tender graphite pencil drawing which was part of the estate of Susanne Schinkel. The subject combines the ideas of family and roles held at the time with the architectural profession.
„Details of the kinds of marble in the various rooms of his Royal Highness Prince August. The samples must be made exactly in accordance with these instructions with each colour on a separate board so that the various boards may be arbitrarily combined. It is requested that this sheet should be returned to the construction files in as good a state of preservation as possible.“
The Bauakademie housed the offices of the Prussian State Building Commission. As its director, Schinkel had an official residence in the building.
In 1844, three years after his death, the Schinkel Museum was inaugurated in this residence. It was one of the first museums dedicated to a single prominent person and remained there until 1873.
The print cabinet with a marble tabletop to the left of the picture represents Beuth the art enthusiast. This was where he kept his important collection of prints and drawings, including works by Dürer and Holbein.
Most of this collection of Beuth’s is still in the inventory of the Kupferstichkabinett in Berlin, as is the print cabinet itself, which can be seen in the Study Room of the collection.
Schinkel was only too well aware of this double life as an artist and official himself. With a little touch of irony Schinkel refers to the negative and positive consequences of such life for himself and his friend in the two vignettes at the top of the picture – 'Vanished youthful dreams of the diligent statesman' – as the loss of a life in the sun in the Bay of Naples...
The most interesting feature of the Classical style design for Orianda is the temple on a platform above the entire palace complex on which, in Schinkel’s words, "… rises a pavilion in the form of a temple made almost transparent by means of large mirror panels," in which "that unique product of Russian art," large glass panels, were to be given radiant prominence.