Quai du Mont-Blanc
Le monument Brunswick
The Brunswick Monument
Karl II. Herzog von Braunschweig - Charles d'Este-Guelph
Braunschweig 1804 - Genève 1873
Duke of Brunswick, ruled the Duchy of Brunswick from 1815 until 1830.
The Brunswick Monument is a 21 m high neo-Gothic-style mausoleum built in 1879 to commemorate Charles II, Duke of Brunswick. The duke was expelled from his duchy in 1830 and fled into exile to various European cities including Paris, where he made a fortune and then moved to Geneva. On 5 March 1871 the duke had drawn up a new will: he left all his possessions to the city of Geneva, with a one clause: "We want that our body is placed in a mausoleum, above the ground, which will be erected by our executors, in Geneva in a prominent position and worthy. The monument must be topped by our equestrian statue and surrounded by those of our father, grandfather and so on, according to the plan joined to this testament that mimics the mausoleum of the Scala family in Verona [Scaliger tombs]. Our performers will build this monument ad libitum of the millions of our inheritance, from bronze and marble and by the most celebrated artists."
The total sum he left was 24 millions franc. Two millions were spent for the monument, from the rest many new buildings were constructed, such as the Grand Théâtre, the Ecole d'horlogerie, the Ecole du Grütli, the University, etc.
The monument was designed by the architect Jean Franel (Vevey 1824 - Plainpalais, Genève 1885), whose design was chosen in favour of those by Viollet-le-Duke and Vincenzo Vela; and executed by various sculptors, mentioned below.
As expressed in the Duke's will, Franel's plan was very similar to the most richly decorated of the Scaliger tombs, that of Cansignorio della Scala (1340-1375), designed by Bonino da Campione (scroll down for a comparison). It consists of a hexagonal canopy in marble, in three stories, a sarcophagus in the central story bears a recumbent figure of the duke, with reliefs from the history of Brunswick. At the projecting corners are marble statues of six celebrated Guelphs; the bronze equestrian statue of the duke crowned the monument. It stands on a platform of 65 x 25 meters, the approach to which is guarded by two lions in yellow marble.
The Brunswick Monument shortly after the inauguration. The equestrian statue is still on top of the the monument
The monument was inaugurated 14 October 1879. Only one year after completion, it presents the first damage, caused by two earthquakes and a particularly harsh winter. The defects in construction however led to the removal in 1883 of the equestrian statue from the top of the monument. It proved to be to heavy for the construction and since that time, the equastrian statue with the marble pedestal is located on the right side of the hemicycle of the terrace facing the hotel Beau-Rivage.
The various parts on the monument
Franel's model of the Brunswick Monument, 1876
- The Sarcophagus with the reliefs
- The Ancestors
- The spire
- The shield bearers
- The seated women, with coats-of-arms
- The heads
- The Equestrian Statue (now at the foot of the monument)
A. The Sarcophagus
(click on the small photos for enlargements in separate windows.)
The sarcophagus is placed in a hexagonal chapel, it bears a recumbent figure of the duke with a lion crouching at his feet. On the four corners are angels, and on the sides of the sarcophagus are eight reliefs depicting historic events in Brunswick.
The figure of the duke, the angels and the reliefs are sculpted by Charles Iguel.
- Marriage of Henry the Lion with Matilda, daughter of King Henry II of England (married 1168)
- Duke Augustus in his library.
- Henry the Lion receives his lands from the hand of the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa.
- Rescue operation during a flooding by Duke Ferdinand, Free-Mason and philanthropist.
- Duke William Frederick killed at Quatre Bras, on the eve of Waterloo.
- Duke Charles William mortally wounded at Auerstadt.
- Meeting of Henry the Lion with the king of Jerusalem
- Ernest the Confessor in the presence of Charles V, holding in his hand the Augsburg confession he just signed.
B. The Ancestors
At each of the six corners are marble statues of the duke's ancestors. These statues are placed in a gothic baldachin, and stand on columns.
- mdvxxix |augustus | mdclxvi
August der Jüngere, Herzog zu Braunschweig-Lüneburg – Augustus the Younger, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg (Dannenberg 1579 - Wolfenbüttel 1666),
Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg, 1635-1666
Sculptor: Thomas Millet
- mcciv | otto puer mcclii
Otto I. das Kind, Herzog von Braunschweig und Lüneburg – Otto the Child (1204 - Lüneburg 1252),
first duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg from 1235 until his death
Sculptor: Alexandre Schoenwerk
- mdcclxxi | guill. fred. | mdcccxv
Friedrich Wilhelm Herzog von Braunschweig-Oels (Braunschweig 1771 - Battle of Quatre Bras 1815),
military officer who led the Black Brunswickers against Napoleonic domination in Germany.
Father of Duke Charles,
Sculptor: Richard Kissling (signed: Rich. Kissling)
- mdccxxxv | carl. guill. ferd. | mdcccxv
Karl Wilhelm Ferdinand Fürst und Herzog von Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel – Charles William Ferdinand, Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel (Wolfenbüttel 1735 - Ottensen bei Hamburg 1806),
professional soldier who served as a Generalfeldmarschall of the Kingdom of Prussia; duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel from 1780 until his death, he was mortally wounded at the Battle of Auerstadt (1806).
grandfather of Duke Charles.
Sculptor: Richard Kissling
- mcxxix | henricus leo | mcxcv
Heinrich der Löwe – Henry the Lion (1129 - 1195),
member of the Welf dynasty and Duke of Saxony, as Henry III, from 1142, and Duke of Bavaria, as Henry XII, from 1156, which duchies he held until 1180
Sculptor: Alexandre Schoenwerk
- mcdxcvii | ernestus confessor | mdxlvi
Ernst I., Herzog zu Braunschweig-Lüneburg (Ernst der Bekenner) – Ernest the Confessor (Uelzen 1497 - Celle 1546),
duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg and a champion of the protestant cause during the early years of the Protestant Reformation
Sculptor: Thomas Millet
C. The spire
The spire of the hexagonal chapel has six shield-bearing statues in baldachins on the corners. The statues carry the coat of arms of the duke, whose statue is below them
In niches in the six ogives are statues of seated women in niches, the niches are flanked by coats of arms.
- August der Jüngere
- Otto I. das Kind
- Friedrich Wilhelm
- Karl Wilhelm Ferdinand
- Heinrich der Löwe
- Ernst I.
Across the top decoration of the monument are 18 medallions containing allegorical heads in white marble, carved by Jean-Charles Töpffer, twelve are on the right and left ribs, below the corniche which is the ceiling of the chapel, six are in the ogives.
- Seated angel
- Seated woman, crowned, with sword and scales in her hands.
- Seated woman, pouring water from a small in a larger jar.
- Seated woman, feeding two children.
- Seated woman with flowers and a cup.
- Seated woman with column and lion
The heads in the ogives.
The heads below the corniche.
D. The Equestrian Statue
At the top was originally placed the equestrian statue of the duke, by Auguste Cain. The equestrian statue shows the duke in uniform, wearing a French hat. The statue is of bronze, with the metal parts gilded.
It is signed by the architect Franel and by Cain.
The hexagonal pedestal of the statue has twelve niches with twelve figures of apostles, carved by Joseph-Antoine Custor.
Already in 1881 the pyramide started to detoriate, the pyramide at the top was dislocated. The problems were caused by ice, snow and rain. In the second half of 1883 the statue was temporarily taken down and the top part of the monument demolished . In 1890 was decided not to replace the equastrian statue, but to make a new top of the monunent, with a maximum weigt of 10,000 kg. In 1892 three options were discussed: a much smaller equestrian statue, a crown or a ridge turret. The second option was chosen.
E. The additional work
The mausoleum stands on a platform of over 65 meters long and 25 meters wide. The mausoleum is flanked by two square water basins with marble chimeras, and the entrance is guarded by two marble lions. The chimeras and lions are made by Auguste Cain.
|The lions by Cain||One of Cain's chimeras|
Finally, any decorative sculpture is done by Mr. Berteault father. He and his son oversaw the execution and led the operation of mounting parts, training devices, etc.
The duke and his monument are mentioned by Nathan Haskell Dole in his The Spell of Switzerland (Boston, 1913) :
It is a splendid thing for a man, whether prince or pawnbroker, enriched through the forced or accidental gift of the people, to return his fortune in the form of a benefaction en bloc. This the true osmose of wealth, to use a chemical figure. The slow flowing of countless littles into the hands of the One Overmaster Great is suddenly reversed. So it was with the fortune of Duke Charles II of Brunswick, who died in 1873 and left Geneva twenty millions of francs for public purposes. This has enabled Geneva to build the opera-house, and to carry on many other municipal undertakings. Duke Charles had fifteen years of sovereignty though a good part of that time he had to be studying his lessons while a regent ruled for him. When he became of age he became a tyrant and his people drove him out. He gave Napoleon the Little pecuniary aid and expected to be reinstated, but after 1848 that was hopeless. In 1870 he retired to Geneva and died there.
Of course the duke himself had to be commemorated by a decorative monument and place was found for it between the Quai du Mont Blanc and the plaza des Alpes. It takes up considerable room. There is a platform more than sixty-seven meters long (two hundred and twenty-two feet) and nearly twenty-five meters (seventy-eight feet) wide and about twenty-one meters (sixty-six feet) high. On this stands a three-story hexagonal canopy sheltering a sarcophagus bearing a recumbent figure of the duke by Iguel, who also designed the reliefs depicting historic events in Brunswick. At each of the six corners are marble statues of his Guelf kinsmen. At a pedestal to the right is a bronze equestrian statue of Charles II. Two colossal lions of yellow marble, like those in Pilgrim's Progress warranted not to bite, guard the entrance. The architect, Franel, went for his inspiration to the flamboyant Gothic tomb of the Della Scala princes at Verona but it is generally considered that he did not improve on his model. The equestrian statue was at first mounted on top of the monument and there are pictures of it in that position but apparently people wondered how a horse could have climbed so high and so they made him back down. [full text, Gutenberg project].
Comparion of the Brunswick monument with its model, the tomb of Cansignorio della Scala in Verona
- Auguste N. Cain (Paris 1821 - id. 1894), French sculptor (Wikipedia).
- Joseph-Antoine Custor (Eschenbach 1825 - Neuchâtel 1892),
- Charles Iguel (Paris 1826/27 - Plainpalais GE 1897),
- Richard Kissling (Wolfwil SO 1848 - Zürich 1919), Swiss sculptor (Wikipedia).
- Thomas Millet,
- Alexandre Schoenwerk (1820-1835),
- Jean-Charles Töpffer (Genève 1832 - Paris 1905),
Sources & Information
- Journal de Genève, 12 and 15 October 1879, 23 September 1881, 4 August 1883, 8 January 1884, 2 February 1890, and 24 November 1892 (through Archives Historiques Le Temps).
- Graziella Zannone Milan, Antonio Croci 1823-1884: Architetto ticinese tra tradizione e cultura cosmopolita
- SHAS - Guide artistique de la Suisse. Berne. Tome 1, 2005 / tome 2, 2006 / tome 3: 2006 / tome 4a, 2011
- Kees van Tilburg, From Marcus Aurelius to Kim Jong-il: The story of equestrian statues throughout the ages (Amstelveen, 2017). – see also the Equestrian statue website.
Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel, Friedrich Wilhelm von
Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel, Karl Wilhelm Ferdinand von
Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel, Karl von
Cain, Auguste N.
Ernst I., Herzog zu Braunschweig-Lüneburg
Henry the Lion
Karl II. Wilh Ferd Hzg von Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel
Otto I (Duke of Braunschweig-Lüneburg)
Location (N 46°12'30" - E 6°8'56")
Item Code: chge037; Photograph: 5 June 2013
Of each statue we made photos from various angles and also detail photos of the various texts.
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© Website and photos: René & Peter van der Krogt