Unique golden carriage goes on display in Český Krumlov
After more than three centuries, a golden carriage made by Johann Anton I. of Eggenberg in 1638 for a diplomatic mission to the Pope, has been restored to its original glory. As of April, the unique carriage will be on display at Český Krumlov Castle.
The Eggenbergs came to Bohemia from Styria during the Thirty Year’s War and ranked among the most significant noble families in Austria and the Czech lands. The family received Český Krumlov castle in 1622 from Emperor Ferdinand II. in return for their services.
In 1638 Johann Anton I. of Eggenberg rode from Český Krumlov to Rome to announce the election of the new Emperor Ferdinand III to the Pope. For this purpose he commissioned a special carriage.
It was made of gilded walnut wood and its shape imitated the victory coaches of the Renaissance period. The interior of the coach was upholstered with black velvet and decorated with golden embroidery.
Four golden wreaths, one in each corner, and a large one in the middle, decorated the four-corner post and there were four upholstered chairs in the coach.
Over the past centuries, the carriage was repeatedly dismantled and as a result, some of its rich furnishings, especially the original textiles, got lost.
Now, thanks to some newly discovered photographs, experts have created replicas of the original decor, says Kateřina Cichrová from the National Heritage Institute in České Budějovice:
“What inspired us to undertake the renovation was the discovery of historical inventories, which testified to the fact that the carriage was much more richly embroidered at the time when Johann Anton of Eggenberg rode in it to Rome.”
As part of the renovation, all the curtains were hand trimmed, a task that took several months to complete. Visitors to the castle can now admire the interior of the carriage just as it looked in 1638, says Mrs. Cichrová.
“We knew from the description that the carriage was originally black and decorated with gold embroidery. And the surviving livery that was specially made for the liverymen provided detailed inspiration. We can see that they were decorated with trimmings and embroidery, so the carriage itself must have been embroidered in the same way.”
In addition, some pieces of décor that had previously fallen off the carriage were also shown in the old images. They were restored as well, says Kateřina Hlavničková from the castle’s depository:
“In the photos we discovered vases in the corners of the roof of the carriage. We knew we had exactly the same vases lying in our depository. So we pulled them out, put them on the roof and they fit there perfectly.”
Johann Anton of Eggenberg planned to present the carriage as a gift to Empress Maria Anna of Spain. However, it ended up staying in the family seat in Styria and was later transported back to Český Krumlov. Today, the carriage is one of the most valuable exhibits in the castle, with only about five similar pieces preserved in the whole of Europe.