The Prince of the Garden Kingdom

How Leopold III Friedrich Franz of Anhalt-Dessau fulfilled his garden dream

By State Chancellery and Ministry of Culture of Sachsen-Anhalt

State Chancellery and Ministry of Culture of Sachsen-Anhalt

Wörlitz, Monument (Prince Leopold II. Maximilian of Anhalt-Dessau) (between 1801 and 1805) by Friedemann HunoldState Chancellery and Ministry of Culture of Sachsen-Anhalt

Leopold III Friedrich Franz of Anhalt-Dessau (1740-1817) - later also called Prince Franz - was the first child and eldest son of Prince Leopold II of Anhalt-Dessau and Princess Gisela Agnes of Anhalt-Köthen. In 1751 he was already an orphan and was placed under the guardianship of his uncle Dietrich von Anhalt-Dessau. Like his ancestors before him, he joined the Prussian army at the behest of Friedrich II at the age of 15 and served in the Anhalt regiment in Halle. His initial enthusiasm for the military quickly changed, so that he resigned only two years later, at the beginning of the Seven Years' War. This was soon followed by a politically wise declaration of neutrality for the Principality.

Wörlitz, Monument (Prince Dietrich of Anhalt-Dessau) (between 1801 and 1805) by Friedemann HunoldState Chancellery and Ministry of Culture of Sachsen-Anhalt

His initial enthusiasm for the military quickly changed, so that he resigned only two years later, at the beginning of the Seven Years' War. This was soon followed by a politically wise declaration of neutrality for the Principality.

Wörlitz, Monument (princely couple Franz and Louise von Anhalt-Dessau) (1925) by unknownState Chancellery and Ministry of Culture of Sachsen-Anhalt

In 1758 Prince Franz, declared of age, took over the affairs of state of the small country and undertook two major journeys until his marriage to his cousin Louise Henriette Wilhelmine von Brandenburg-Schwedt (1750-1811). The first led him to Holland and England, the second – a Grand Tour with Erdmannsdorff – to Italy, France and again England. Friedrich Wilhelm von Erdmannsdorff (1736-1800), son of a high servant at the Saxon court, was a student in Wittenberg when he met the four-year younger prince.

Friedrich Wilhelm von Erdmannsdorff (around 1796) by Johann Friedrich August TischbeinState Chancellery and Ministry of Culture of Sachsen-Anhalt

Their meeting turned out to be a decisive encounter, as they remained united in lifelong friendship. In addition, Erdmannsdorff was instrumental in the numerous physical transformations of Anhalt-Dessau, in particular its architecture and parks.

Impressed and inspired by his travels – including his later journeys to Switzerland, France and England – Leopold III began comprehensive reforms that affected almost all areas of his life. “Combining the useful with the pleasant” was not only his political guiding principle, but also the fundamental idea of landscape design.

Wörlitz, Floragarden (Second half of the 18th century) by under Prince Leopold III Friedrich Franz of Anhalt-DessauState Chancellery and Ministry of Culture of Sachsen-Anhalt

The development and beautification of the principality went hand in hand. Another important companion, Johann Friedrich Eyserbeck (1734-1818), who held the position of court gardener, supported him in this process.

Wörlitz, Nymphaeum (1767/68) by under Prince Leopold III Friedrich Franz of Anhalt-DessauState Chancellery and Ministry of Culture of Sachsen-Anhalt

During his numerous journeys, the prince became acquainted with some of his contemporaries who were to shape him and thus also the garden kingdom in the making. Among them are ...

Johann Joachim Winckelmann (1769/1773) by under Prince Leopold III Friedrich Franz of Anhalt-Dessau and Friedrich Wilhelm von ErdmannsdorffState Chancellery and Ministry of Culture of Sachsen-Anhalt

... Johann Joachim Winckelmann (1717-1768), who was to be a pioneer of classicism in the German-speaking world ...

Sir William Douglas Hamilton (1769/1773) by under Prince Leopold III Friedrich Franz of Anhalt-Dessau and Friedrich Wilhelm von ErdmannsdorffState Chancellery and Ministry of Culture of Sachsen-Anhalt

... Sir William Hamilton (1730-1803), English envoy at the court of Naples and geologist ...

Christian Fürchtegott Gellert (1769/1773) by under Prince Leopold III Friedrich Franz of Anhalt-Dessau and Friedrich Wilhelm von ErdmannsdorffState Chancellery and Ministry of Culture of Sachsen-Anhalt

... poet and moral philosopher Christian Fürchtegott Gellert (1715-1769) ...

Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1769/1773) by under Prince Leopold III Friedrich Franz of Anhalt-Dessau and Friedrich Wilhelm von ErdmannsdorffState Chancellery and Ministry of Culture of Sachsen-Anhalt

... the famous philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) ...

Johann Caspar Lavater (1769/1773) by under Prince Leopold III Friedrich Franz of Anhalt-Dessau and Friedrich Wilhelm von ErdmannsdorffState Chancellery and Ministry of Culture of Sachsen-Anhalt

... as well as the Swiss philosopher and priest Johann Caspar Lavater (1741-1801) and the world explorers Reinhold (1729-1798) and Georg Forster (1754-1794), who had travelled the world with James Cook.

The latter donated a collection of about 30 ethnological objects from the South Seas to Prince Franz, which is still in Wörlitz today.
99 portraits of personalities of mythology and real life in the library of the Wörlitz Castle testify to the prince's cosmopolitan attitude, who showed interest in aspects of the Enlightenment.

Wörlitz, castle, ballroom (1769/1773) by Friedrich Wilhelm von ErdmannsdorffState Chancellery and Ministry of Culture of Sachsen-Anhalt

Wörlitz, Pantheon inside (1795/1797) by Friedrich Wilhelm von ErdmannsdorffState Chancellery and Ministry of Culture of Sachsen-Anhalt

The unhappy marriage with Princess Louise had come about at the instigation of Friedrich II. After the birth of the heir to the throne Friedrich in 1769 they went more and more separate ways. With Luisium Palace and the Grey House – also known as the Princess's House – she received two private refuges in 1774 and 1790, respectively, into which she could retreat.

Luisium, illuminated castle (1774/1778) by Friedrich Wilhelm von ErdmannsdorffState Chancellery and Ministry of Culture of Sachsen-Anhalt

Wörlitz, House of the Princess (1789-1790, expansion after 1846, further expansion after 1859) by unknownState Chancellery and Ministry of Culture of Sachsen-Anhalt

Wörlitz, House of the Princess, Gallery (1804/05) by under Prince Leopold III Friedrich Franz of Anhalt-DessauState Chancellery and Ministry of Culture of Sachsen-Anhalt

In 1817 Duke Leopold III – a title he had accepted ten years earlier – died of the consequences of a riding accident. His successor became his grandson Leopold IV. Friedrich, Duke of Anhalt.

Wörlitz, Monument (Duke Leopold IV. Friedrich of Anhalt-Dessau) (after 1871) by unknownState Chancellery and Ministry of Culture of Sachsen-Anhalt

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