Unpublished Inventories of the Nymphenburg Palace & Gardens

Two German manuscripts on paper by Alexander Balistier (or Balistrier), the first entitled “Die Beschreibung der samentl(ichen) churfüstl(ichen) Lustgebäuden zu Nymphenburg” (“Description of the entire electoral maisons de plaisance at Nymphenburg”), 35 leaves, small folio (339 x 212 mm.), self-bound (title detached), orig. stitching [and]: “Beschreibung des Churfürstlichen Lust-Schlosses Nymphenburg” (“Description of the Electoral Maisons de Plaisance of Nymphenburg”), 39 leaves & two blanks, small folio (341 x 215 mm.), self-bound & in signatures, orig. stitching.

[Munich]: the first not dated, but winter 1788/89; the second dated 1 February 1789.

Two versions of the important 1789 inventory of famous Nymphenburg Palace and gardens, the summer residence of the Electors of Bavaria, both prepared and signed by the electoral accountant and scribe Alexander Balistier (or Balistrier). The first version, with many corrections, is clearly a rough(ish) draft, whereas the second version is the corrected final version (although this also has contemporary additions and corrections). The 1789 inventory is an extremely important resource, as it provides detailed information on the state and the contents of the palace and its gardens in the late 18th century during the reign of the Elector Karl Theodor. By 1789, the architectural and decorative work of the baroque period had been essentially completed, and only a few changes were made in Karl Theodor’s time. Thus, what we find documented here is the exact account of the palace and its gardens preceding the massive changes made mainly in the first half of the 19th century.

There is another copy of the final version, held by the Bayerische Hauptstaatsarchiv (inventory no. HR1 200/13, formerly in the Munich Kreisarchiv or District Archive). It, too, is a fair copy, with the same date but without the author’s name. This fair copy seems to be the “official” final version of the inventory, whereas our two manuscripts document the preparatory phase.

The author, Balistier, was an accountant and scribe employed by the Electoral Office of Buildings. He was entrusted with carrying out a complete inventory and description of Nymphenburg Palace, including all permanently mounted and all moveable pieces of art, furniture, and decoration; the gardens, other grounds, and the maisons de plaisance; fountains, wells, bridges, and canals; and even the Electoral porcelain factory.

The corrections and additions in the first manuscript are in another hand and were incorporated in the second manuscript (and it, too, has a number of corrections and additions).

This inventory was probably compiled due to the Elector’s removal from Munich to Mannheim following a disagreement with the Bavarian Senate. Karl Theodor returned to Munich in the summer of 1789 when the inventory was already completed.

The Bayerische Hauptstaatsarchiv at Munich has a file concerning Balistier entitled “Bauschreiber in Nymphenburg” (“Architectural Scribe at Nymphenburg”), dated 1774. In this file there is information regarding Balistier’s terms of employment by the Office of Buildings, his salary, duties, etc. (he was also employed as “Wachtlhunddresseur, i. e., as trainer of the Electoral quail dogs or pointers).

Minor spotting, but each in fine condition.

Price: $5,000.00

Item ID: 6528

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