Sunday, 27 September 2009

Lost treasures: Bonde Mansion, Stockholm

Bonde Mansion at Rosenbad was, at least seen from the outside, one of the grandest patrician mansions in Stockholm. Situated at Strömgatan, overlooking the water (second photo), it would lead one’s thoughts towards St Petersburg and the Russian neoclassicism.
It was built on the orders of Count Carl Bonde, Marshal of the Realm, who himself made a rough sketch of his own ideas for his new town residence after the older, 17th-century Bonde Mansion had been sold to the city of Stockholm to serve as court house. The new mansion did, however, turn out quite differently from the Count’s sketch. Work began in 1789, but war and financial restraints meant that it was not completed until 1798, by which time Count Bonde had been dead for seven years.
The name of the architect is disputed. It is mostly attributed to the architect Erik Palmstedt (1741-1803), but the master bricklayer Johan Henrik Walmstedt later claimed authorship of the drawings. A member of the Bonde family itself has attributed it to Palmstedt, whose son also included it in his list of his father’s works.
It was a long, rectangular three-storey building with a rather simple façade. What made it stand out was its impressive temple front, which rose to a fourth storey with a triangular pediment carried by six columns of the Ionic order.
The problem when building Bonde Mansion was to adapt it to the adjacent Hildebrand House. To give it a unified façade towards the water and create the appearance that the palace covered the entire block, one side of Hildebrand House was incorporated into the mansion’s main façade (as seen clearly in photos 1 and 2). This meant that the mansion’s columned portico was placed in the middle of the block, but actually well to the left of the mansion’s actual centre. Another problem was that Hildebrand House was one storey higher, something the architect tried to hide by a mansard roof. It has been speculated that there might have been financial reasons for this and that one had hoped to be able to add another storey to Bonde Mansion when it could be afforded.
Bonde Mansion in many ways resembled Giacomo Quarenghi’s Ekaterina Institute in St Petersburg, which had a rather similar location by the Fontanka and a very similar façade with a raised centre section. However, this cannot have inspired the Bonde Mansion’s architect as the Ekaterina Institute was built only in 1804-1807.
Sadly Bonde Mansion had been badly built and with the passing of the years it started to sink, which led to cracks all over, a situation which was made worse when buildings nearby were demolished at the end of the 19th century. In the end Count Carl Carlsson Bonde received an offer he could not refuse from the Nordic Credit Bank, which bought the mansion and had it demolished in 1899. In its place came Ferdinand Boberg’s art-nouveau building Rosenbad (second photo), a complex which included a restaurant, a hotel and offices and today serves as Sweden’s main government building and seat of the Prime Minister. On its corner Strömgatan/Drottninggatan there is a stone relief by Joseph Anton Schmid depicting Bonde Mansion in a somewhat idealised manner (first photo). A photo of what it really looked like may be found at (external link).

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