Villa Welgelegen was built by Henry Hope of the famous family banking company Hope & Co. of Amsterdam, from 1785 to 1789 as a summer home to replace the already quite impressive structure that he purchased there in 1769. It is an example of neoclassical architecture, unusual for its style in the Netherlands.
Henry Hope was so influential that he persuaded the Haarlem local government to redesign the public park Frederickspark and he persuaded the Heemstede local government to redesign the Haarlemmerhout, both of which adjoined his property. Henry Hope collected many paintings and sculptures and had renowned artisans design the interior. He had many famous visitors to this palace, including William V of Orange, who visited with his wife, Princess Wilhelmina of Prussia, and Thomas Jefferson in 1788. Holland was the first country to recognize the United States as a country in 1782, and attracted many US visitors looking to trade with the wealthy merchants of Amsterdam, that was at that time the financial center of Europe.
Before Henry Hope could complete his vision of expanding the Welgelegen gardens to the Spaarne river, Henry Hope left Welgelegen only 5 years after the main house was completed. In 1794 Henry Hope fled to England before the French revolutionary forces, taking most of his art collection with him. He transferred the property to his nephew John Williams Hope who remained behind in Amsterdam to see to the family banking business. John Hope carried on the Hope & co. family business in Amsterdam together with Alexander Baring and Adriaan van der Hoop, young partners in the firm. In 1800 Henry Hope became influential together with his London friend Francis Baring in financing the Louisiana Purchase. On behalf of the French government, Baring and Hope sold US government bonds worth $11.25 million in 1804, more than a year after the treaty was signed. It is known as the largest land transaction in history.
John Williams Hope sold the villa in 1808 to Napoleon's brother Louis Bonaparte who had just been named King of Holland. Louis, or Ludwig as he called himself, loved Holland and enjoyed a good reputation among the people. He gave the villa its current name 'Paviljoen Welgelegen'. Louis Napoleon enjoyed his stay there, but left in a hurry in 1810 when he was forced to abdicate the throne by his brother Napoleon, who felt he was being too 'nice' to his subjects. His brother Napoleon then annexed Holland, making the King function redundant. Three years later after the War of 1812 Welgelegen became the property of the government of the Netherlands.
From 1814 to her death in 1828 Princes Wilhelmina of Prussia, who remembered the villa from her marriage, kept the villa as a summer palace and opened it to the public as a museum of modern art. After Wilhelmina died, Welgelegen housed many museums that later moved to Amsterdam or Leiden. In 1885 the 'Museum van Levende Nederlandsche Meesters' was closed (especially since most of the 'levende meesters' or living masters had since deceased), but the 'Koloniaal Museum' (1871-1923) and the 'Museum voor Kunstnijverheid' (1877-1926) remained open. When the Frans Hals Museum moved to its present location on the Klein Heiligland, the 'Fotografisch Museum' (1913-ca.1918) was opened here (now called Spaarnestad Photo).
Unlike Teylers Museum, that was built at the same time, Welgelegen lost its museum function and has been in use since 1930 by the Provinciale Staten as the seat of government for the Province of North Holland. Since the last restoration in 2009, the private park grounds and some of the rooms are open to the public during office hours, while the larger meeting rooms are open to the public for walking tours only one day of the year on Monumenten Dag.References:
The Garden Kingdom of Dessau-Wörlitz, located in Saxony-Anhalt in the Middle Elbe Region, is an exceptional example of landscape design and planning from the Age of the Enlightenment in the 18th century. Its diverse components – the outstanding buildings, English-style landscaped parks and gardens, and subtly modified expanses of agricultural land – served aesthetic, educational, and economic purposes in an exemplary manner.
The grounds, which had been divided into four parts since the constructions of a railway line and the Bundesautobahn 9 in the 1930s, were designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2000.
For Prince Leopold III Friedrich Franz of Anhalt-Dessau (1740-1817) and his friend and adviser Friedrich Wilhelm von Erdmannsdorff (1736-1800), the study of landscape gardens in England and ancient buildings in Italy during several tours was the impetus for their own creative programme in the little principality by the rivers Elbe and Mulde. As a result, the first landscape garden in continental Europe was created here, with Wörlitz as its focus. Over a period of forty years a network of visual and stylistic relationships was developed with other landscape gardens in the region, leading to the creation of a garden landscape on a unique scale in Europe. In the making of this landscape, the designers strove to go beyond the mere copying of garden scenery and buildings from other sites, but instead to generate a synthesis of a wide range of artistic relationships. Among new and characteristic components of this garden landscape was the integration of a didactic element, arising from the philosophy of Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778), the thinking of Johann Joachim Winckelmann (1717-1768), and the aesthetics of Johann Georg Sulzer (1720-1779). The notion of public access to the buildings and grounds was a reflection of the pedagogic concept of the humanisation of society.
Proceeding from the idea of the ferme ornée, agriculture as the basis for everyday life found its place in the garden landscape. In a Rousseauian sense, agriculture also had to perform a pedagogic function in Anhalt-Dessau. Through the deliberate demonstration of new farming methods in the landscape garden, developments in Anhalt-Dessau were not merely theoretical, but a practical demonstration of their models in England. It is noteworthy that these objectives - the integration of aesthetics and education into the landscape – were implemented with outstanding artistic quality. Thus, for instance, the buildings of Friedrich Wilhelm von Erdmannsdorff provided important models for the architectural development of Germany and central Europe. Schloss Wörlitz (1769-73) was the first Neoclassical building in German architectural history. The Gothic House (from 1774) was a decisive influence on the development of Gothic Revival architecture in central Europe. Here, for the first time, the Gothic style was used to carry a political message, namely the desire for the retention of sovereignty among the smaller Imperial territories. The churches in Riesigk (1800), Wörlitz (1804-09), and Vockerode (1810-11) were the first Neoclassical, ecclesiastical buildings in Germany, their towers enlivening the marshland, floodplain landscape in which they served as waymarkers. In parts of the Baroque park of Oranienbaum, an Anglo-Chinese garden was laid out, now the sole surviving example in Europe of such a garden in its original form from the period before 1800. The development of stylistic eclecticism in the 19th century had its roots in the closing years of the 18th century.
Another feature of the landscape is the integration of new technological achievements, such as the building of bridges, an expression of a continuing quest for modernity. Through the conscious incorporation of the older layouts at Oranienbaum and Mosigkau into a pantheon of styles, the landscape became an architectural encyclopaedia featuring examples from ancient times to the latest developments. Nowhere else in Germany or Europe had a prince brought such an all-embracing and extensive programme of landscape reform into being, particularly one so deeply rooted in philosophical and educational theory. With the unique density of its landscape of monuments, the Garden Kingdom of Dessau-Wörlitz is an expression of the enlightened outlook of the court at Dessau, in which the landscape became the idealised world of its day.
Through the conscious and structured incorporation of economic, technological, and functional buildings and parks into the artistically designed landscape, the Garden Kingdom of Dessau-Wörlitz became an important concourse of ideas, in that it facilitated the convergence of 18th century grandeur of design with the beginnings of 19th century industrial society. The reforming outlook of this period brought about a huge diversity of change in the garden layout, and this legacy can still be experienced today.