The first Baroque residence on the Upper Rhine

Rastatt Residential Palace

Layout of Rastatt Palace and garden from 1798. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Arnim Weischer
TALES OF WOMEN AND CATS

ALEXANDRE DUMAS

Author Alexandre Dumas described his visit to Rastatt Palace in his 1838 book "Excursions on the Banks of the Rhine." His report is only partially true as there were many stories about the ruling class circulating in the 19th century.

Woman of the Orient, painting in Rastatt Palace, Harman Verelst, circa 1680. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Arnim Weischer

Painting of a mysterious woman of the Orient.

BEAUTIFUL FURNITURE, BEAUTIFUL WOMEN

Alexandre Dumas visited Rastatt in late September of 1838. The writer was interested in history and penned the novels "The Three Musketeers" and "The Count of Monte Cristo" only a few years later. "Despite its ruinous condition, I visited the palace,"he wrote of the residence. "Even without its historic significance, it warranted a stop. […] The tapestries, the porcelain as well as the margravine's chinoiseries would evoke delight in our own Rococo salons.

Woman of the Orient, painting in Rastatt Palace, Harman Verelst, circa 1680. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Arnim Weischer

Painting of a young woman of the Orient.

WOMEN OF THE ORIENT

In addition to the Turkish chamber of war trophies, Dumas took note of the large paintings of women of the Orient, which have survived to this day: "A third room housed another rare curiosity: four life-size portraits of the four wives of the Pasha, which the conqueror had brought back to Rastatt as prisoners. This loot was assuredly least welcomed by the margravine.

Portrait: Alexandre Dumas the elder. Image: Wikipedia, in the public domain

Alexandre Dumas the elder.

CAT PORTRAITS

"Descending from the belvedere, you encounter two additional portraits, these however sport paws and not feet. These are likenesses of two giant cats. The first, a wild cat, fell victim to Margrave Ludwig Wilhelm on a hunt in the Black Forest. The second was Margravine Augusta's darling. Fully aware of the importance of her position, she, like any other grand character, left behind her memoirs."

IN REMEMBRANCE OF A CAT

"I arrived here at the age of two. At the time, I weighed 18 pounds. During my four years at mistress Augusta's side, I ate so many good chickens, so many roasted capons and so many fat geese that I now weigh nearly 33 pounds." Dumas concluded: "The caretaker assured me that these few sentences had inspired E.T.A. Hoffmann's'Kater Murr' character."