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Saturday Volcano Art: Wörlitz – a volcano in the garden 22 September 2009

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Carl Kuntz, Der Stein zu Worlitz (c.1796)
Carl Kuntz, ‘Der Stein zu Wörlitz’ (c.1796).

Leopold III Frederick Franz (1740-1817) was the ruler of the small German principality of Anhalt-Dessau in what is now the German Bundesland of Saxony-Anhalt. He was a great admirer of England, making several visits there between 1763 and 1785 and bringing back ‘advanced’ English ideas in economics, agriculture, culture and politics. The ‘natural style’ of gardening fashionable in England at this time inspired the prince to create an English-style landscape garden at his home estate of Wörlitz. For the Prince of Dessau, concerned by the threat posed to his small state by Prussian expansionism, committed to the free thought and liberty of the Enlightenment, and opposed to despotism and tyranny, the English garden was as much a political as an aesthetic statement.

The garden realm of Wörlitz was laid out between 1764 and around 1800 in the natural style of planting that characterized the English garden. There is an eclectic range of buildings and other features within the garden: numerous bridges and statues, a house in the Gothick architectural style, a pedimented Temple of Flora, the classical Wörlitz Synagogue – and an artificial volcano.