Imants Lancmanis: Now it is Rundāle of my vision

Imants Lancmanis: Now it is Rundāle of my vision
Kaspars Garda, Rīga 2014 . Rundāle castle
25-05-2013 A+ A-
Opening of Duke’s second cabinet and two new rooms of the exposition of decorative art ‘From Gothic to Art Noveau’ marked the celebration of 277 years of Rundāle castle on Friday, May 24. ‘And we will continue in the same vein next year as well when the Duke’s library is restored,’ said the director of Rundāle castle Imants Lancmanis in his official address not making a secret of being pleased that work of his lifetime – restoration of Rundāle castle is nearly completed. The corner stones of Rundāle castle were set on May 24, 1736, marking a date, historicised as the moment of birth of Rundāle castle, now celebrated annually.

Imants Lancmanis emphasized that restoration of Duke’s second cabinet was part of Boris and Inara Teterev Foundation program ‘Completion of restoration of Rundāle castle 2010-2014.’ ‘Reconstruction of Duke’s cabinet was lengthy and complicated as its walls had been coated in four successive layers of oil-paint since 1864. In five years, we were able to clean these spaces from painting-over and to conserve and re-touch the lost original grounding. Duke’s cabinet fire-place was built in the first period of construction of this castle in the 1730ies and was replaced by a heating furnace in the 19th century. It was restored according to the contour of the covering plate marked on the painting, which framed it, as well as by models of its historic analogues in Europe.

We are pleased to have been able to furnish the cabinet with highly valued art collectibles, vividly represented by the 18th century bureau – work of Parisian master Antoine-Mathieu Criard. 

This acquisition of Rundāle boasts a year 1775 silver stationery set, created by Roman jeweler Antonio Fornari and a French Rococo style gilded bronze candlestick. The massive late Italian Baroque chairs and monumental fire-place mirror elegantly combine with dynamic ornament motives of wall paintings, hand of artists Francesco Martini and Carlo Zucchi, lending splendor and solemnity to the space,’ Imants Lancmanis said, adding with a smile:

It is quite improbable that Duke Ernst Johan Byron who built Rundāle as his summer residence, sat down to a lot of paper work in his second cabinet, but its present fitting out very faithfully approaches its probable initial design.

In the same vein, with support of Teterev Foundation, the pool parlor is now decorated by a new chandelier – the only example of its Berlin Classicism style counterparts, the closest analogue of which is found in Pfaueninsel castle near Berlin. ‘The chandelier was taken over from Lutriņi church in fragmented form ten years ago – in 2003, overviewed by restorer of the museum Maija Banķiere,’ director of Rundāle describes this exhibit.



Imants Lancmanis recalled once again, in conversation with cultural portal 'Riga 2014,' that he arrived to Rundāle with a group of like-minded professionals almost fifty years ago – in faraway 1964 when restoration of the castle seemed an improbable dream. ‘The times were unfavorable to extreme, the Khrushchev period, and such matters as castles and their restoration were out of boundaries.

But it remained as a vision with me since the moment I saw the castle in 1958 and I imagined already then how these interiors could have looked once and should look again. This vision has guided us and we have been moving towards it quite pragmatically.

Lancmanis indicated that many of Rundāle’s spaces now look the way they had emerged in his visions. ‘There were no images I had see, of course, as, obviously photography was inexistent in the 18th century when the castle was built. But I was familiar with the way such castles Europe would look; therefore, I had my personal visual image of Rundāle.

I have preserved some drawings from 1973, the planning of rooms where I have marked a chest of drawers, a painting and a vase, and what we see now is quite close to that composition.

Director of Rundāle indicates thou that their work will not stop, once the restoration of Duke’s library will be completed. ‘It is like in a newly constructed house, which you have to begin to redecorate, from one end as soon as the building seems to be finished,’ Lancmanis smiles, mentioning that serious damage of the roof of the castle has been revealed and it will have to be replaced. ‘It is a problem of any building, not to mention the castles.’

Introducing the new exposition of decorative art, which offers a resplendent collection of sacred genre art, Imants Lancmanis underlines: ‘It is also an idea of mine I had forty five years ago. The collection must be replenished, and we have thematic exhibitions planned, for example, one of 19th century Biedermeier style. There is no shortage of plans.’


Director of the castle reminds that several events of European Capital of Culture are marked for Rundāle as well: ‘Exhibition of National Library of Latvia presenting books of Ketler family will open in May 2014, and we will collaborate with the National Library organizing a conference on the libraries of Kurzeme duchy and historic libraries in Latvia.

I certainly hope that we will see many guests of Riga here, in Rundāle, as well! Welcome!

Speaking of the concert to mark the anniversary of the castle ‘Music in the court of Kurzeme’ featuring music composed for the Duke and aristocracy of Kurzeme and once heard in the walls of Rundāle, Lancmanis reveals: ‘Tonight, we could appreciate the mastery of maestro Māris Kupčs and baroque orchestra ‘Collegium Musicum Riga,’ but we have discussed with the conductor that this music could be played in these walls more often than before. Therefore, now, I think about how we could make that happen, since, if there could have been music in Kurzeme court, there is no reason why it could not be played here today!’



Comments open for registered users only!