Reception Room

“The manorhouse would often have a room given over to receiving people on a short visit and for use as an entrance to the suite of assembly rooms during festive occasions – the Reception Room”: (Josef Durm: Handbook of Architecture, 1902)

In compliance with the architectural how-to manuals of the time, the Reception Room at Schloss Drachenburg was a point of entrance to the suite of assembly rooms on the representative level. As customary at the time, it was located between the Dining Room and the Salon (the Nibelung Room). The spacious size of the Reception Room is a good indication that it was used for social purposes and this is why its amenities resemble those of a salon – i.e. seats were the most important items of furniture. In keeping with its function, the Reception Room was imposingly furnished. Castle brochures of the late 19th century and early 20th century describe vividly “the large Reception Room in which […] the wonderfully carved wooden ceiling, highlighted by two elegant chandeliers, initially captures the eye”.

The designs for the magnificent ornamentation of the carving on the doors, wall panels and ceilings came from Franz Langenberg, the building supervisor of Schloss Drachenburg. Due to the damage inflicted during the Second World War, one of the most important décor elements within the Reception Room is no longer extant today – the stained glass that decorated nearly all the rooms of the castle with ornamental and figurative depictions. In the pointed-arch skylights of the balcony doors, for example, there used to be figures of night and day. And, on the skylights of the five-part window wall to the west, there used to be female figures personifying the five senses of smell, taste, sight, hearing and touch. One of these, the personification of taste survived the war: it was rescued from the rubble by a private individual. The designs for the stained glass of the Reception Room were provided by Fritz Birkmeyer while the actual glass-work was produced by the Munich-based Royal Court Stained Glass Manufactory of Franz Xavier Zettler in 1884.

As a result of the subdued daylight, the dark wood and the coloured walls, the Reception Room came over as considerably darker than today. In those days, the Gründerzeit of the decades after 1871, it was considered very sophisticated to reside in dark rooms. Also echoing the taste of the late 19th century was the bust in the Reception Room – a copy of the head of Apollo of Belvedere. This marble bust was returned to the Schloss Drachenburg inventory in 1995. Its original central position in front of the west window wall was of course not without reason. Castle-owner Stephan von Sarter clearly wanted the attributes of Apollo – the god of youth, of the arts (especially music and poetry), of knowledge and of thought – to reflect on him. Nearly every visitor would pass this room and register the implicit symbolism of the bust.