Caus, Salomon de
Mérian, Mathieu (engraver)

Title Hortus Palatinus...
Imprint Frankfurt, J. T. de Bry, 1620
Localisation Heidelberg, Ruprecht-Karls-Universität, K 6371 Folio Res
Subject Garden
Transcribed version of the text


     Salomon de Caus was born in 1576 in Dieppe, Normandy.  The archives testify to his activity at the court of the governor of the Spanish Netherlands in Brussels starting in 1601.  As early as 1598, he had probably created a medal of the size of a coin at the shop of the medal engraver Jean de Montfort (Bibliothèque royale de Belgique, Cabinet des Médailles).  In 1605 Archduke Albert appointed him "ingéniaire à la fontaine artificielle et en toutes autres choses que luy seront commandées".  During 1608 and 1609 de Caus was in London to teach drawing to Prince Henry; he also worked for the court and the nobility as a garden architect. In 1614, through the intervention of Princess Elizabeth Stuart, who had married the Prince Elector Palatine, he answered the call to Heidelberg.  He left that city for Paris in 1620, because of the war, to start in the service of Louis XIII, who employed him as engineer and architect to the king.  He died in Paris in 1626.
The Hortus Palatinus is a collection of engravings which were published in 1620 in Frankfurt by the printer and engraver Johann Theodor de Bry in a double French and German edition, with identical title pages.  It was one of the earliest publications in the area of collections of engravings which was preceded in Germany by Georg Ridinger's Architectur des [...] neuen Schloßbawes St. Johannespurg zu Aschaffenburg (1616) alone.  In its general structure - a dedication, a short presentation text and thirty engravings- it is similar to the Plus Excellents Bastiments de France by Jacques Androuet du Cerceau (1576 and 1579).  But differing from the French author, Salomon de Caus dedicates his whole Hortus Palatinus to a single creation, the garden that Frederick V, the Prince Elector Palatine who had become the King of Bohemia the preceding year, had ordered for his castle at Heidelberg.  In this case, it was up to the garden to represent the residence since the buildings proved to be less representative relative to the criteria of the formal uniformisation of the palatial typology.
We know that the engravings are by Matthaüs Merian, de Bry's son-in-law, only because of the signature of the "Scenographia" ("Iacob Focquier pinxit, Matthae Merian fecit").  Mérian kept to the view of the Heidelberg garden painted by the Flemish painter Jacques Fouquières (76 x 103 cm, private collection), taken up in a larger format (1620, 179 x 263 cm, Heidelberg, Kurpfälzsisches Museum).  Images of this sort, from an elevated viewpoint (or cavalier perspective from a bird's eye view) were especially well adapted to the representation of gardens which could thus be seen integrated into the geographical context, related to the whole landscape.  The celebrated veduta of the villa d'Este by Étienne Dupérac (1573) had provided a widely distributed prototype of this kind of arrangement.  Much better than the plan which follows and the twenty-nine other plates, the "Scenographia" placed at the head of the work gave a visual idea of the way the garden, which never existed in the state shown by the vedute, should have looked.  In fact, Salomon de Caus confirms in the foreward that at the end of 1619, he no longer believed that the work would be finished: "Und wenn der jetzige Krieg nicht dazwischen gekommen wäre, hätte innerhalb von ungefähr sechs Monaten alles ganz und gar fertig werden können" ("and if the present war hadn't broken out in the meantime, everything could have been completely finished in approximately six months").  In other respects, the archeological digs undertaken in 2003, 2004 and in 2008 confirm that a large part of the lower terraces, such as the north terrace, the fountains, basins, stairways as well as a part of the necessary canals were never completed.  The dedication to Frederick, king of Bohemia, Count Palatine and Prince Elector, is dated December 20, 1619.  Salomon de Caus complains that the prince's accession to the throne, which consequently necessitated the move of the residence to Prague, slowed the work on the Hortus Palatinus.  Faced with this new situation, which put off the end of the work to an undetermined date, de Caus recognized the engravings, created to give visual reality to the projects.
In the foreword, he describes the topography of the place precisely and above all the transformation of the former garden into "Hortus Palatinus".  To do this, he emphasizes the formal difficulties stemming from its location on a rocky slope.  The second part of the text consists of a short description of the following numbered plates.  Here de Caus uses plans, elevations and perspectives, sometimes combined, next to which the most important elements appear isolated.  An enumeration of the details describes the project, which does not bring out a spatial or axial relationship with the castle.  Nor does he present the plates in a logical order which would highlight a network of paths, or clarify the logical organization of the garden.  The following plates show a garden enclosed by walls and trees, with four compartments of parterres having a knot motif.  A fountain in the shape of a column rises in the intersection of the perpendicular axes; gateways with columns clearly mark the alignments of the axes.  The fountain/column reappears in detail in the following plate and the procedure is also used to represent the water parterre (n° 7 and 8).
The embroidery parterres with four compartments drawn in plate 5, with the name of the Prince Elector and the date 1619 inscribed in the circular arc around the central circle, as well as four stylized crowns constitute some of the oldest examples of the genre (other embroideries can be seen in plate 14).  In fact Claude Mollet had already designed embroideries a little earlier, at Saint-Germain and Fontainebleau among others, but we have no contemporary representation of them.  The iconographic program of the statuary, also explained in the text, is particularly remarkable The statues of eight muses stand at the entrances; the ninth, Urania, the muse of astronomy, is located at the intersection of the axes.  She holds a rod in her raised hand which, with its shadow, acts as a sundial.
Caus pays particular attention to the greenhouses. The orange grove appears in n°6, an orangery that can be taken apart whose wooden facing can easily be removed in the summer in n° 9 and a permanent orangery (n° 10 and 11).  While the wooden greenhouse was to allow the cultivation of exotic plants in the ground, the permanent greenhouse worked very well for plants in pots or in tubs.
As well as the plans of the parterres and the greenhouses, sculpture also played a very important role in the planning of the garden.  The perspective view of the ornamental water parterre is completed by a series of statues planned to ornament it: two statues of Venus, two putti on the backs of dolphins and a masculine figure taking shelter under an umbrella of water (n° 8).  Further, the Main and the Neckar appear as allegories of rivers, represented curiously as standing up (n° 15).  The statue of Frederick V, placed standing with a Neptune above a projection, must be considered an innovation.  It is probably the first monument paying homage to a lord in modern garden history.
The author is very attentive to grottoes, a theme which can certainly be considered his specialty.  In his book on automata, the Raison des forces mouvantes, 1615, de Caus had treated grottoes in detail.  In Heidelberg, he made no plan for automata powered by hydropneumatics, but two musical machines which were never produced.  In the large grotto in plate 28 a hydraulic organ should have been represented but one only finds the plan and elevation. In addition, there were also plans for equipping the statues with a satyr and a Narcissus animated by fountains and the sounds of flutes.
The Hortus Palatinus can be considered Salomon de Caus' masterpiece.  In comparison to the garden at Heidelberg, the work he produced in Brussels, in England or in France (about which we really know nothing) is second rate.  Now the influence of this garden, destroyed in the beginning of the 17th century, rests principally on the treatise, the first collection of monographic engravings devoted to the setting out of a garden.  Salomon de Caus was very experienced in the field of publishing; in 1612 he published a treatise on perspective and in 1615 his book on automata which was reissued in 1624.  That same year a text on sundials came out, and we know that at the end of his life he was working on an annotated translation of the De architectura by Vitruvius.  This vast literary production was decisive for his posterity.  If John Evelyn refers to Salomon de Caus' machines in his Elysium Brittannicum (first written in around 1657), and if Andreas Böckler was well acquainted with his works, the inventions of this engineer and garden architect led to nothing further in the domain of architecture and garden art.  On the other hand, in the 19th century, Salomon de Caus was falsely caricaturized as a martyr to science, made popular by literary fictions, narratives, indeed, dramas.
An in-12 edition came out in 1795 in Mannheim; in 1829 Johann Metzger used extracts of the Hortus Palatinus in his Beschreibung des Heidelberger Schlosses und Gartens ; John Claudius Loudun incorporated a translation of the text, without the dedication, in a second edition of his Encyclopaedia of Gardening (London, 1853, vol. 1, pp. 171-175).  Michel Conan published a reprint of the French version in 1981 (Le Jardin Palatine, Paris).  The best and most recent annotated text is the one obtained by Michael Zimmermann (Worms, 1980).

Stefan Schweizer
(Institut für Kunstgeschichte der Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf) – 2010


Critical bibliography

I. de Caus, Wilton Garden (1645), J. Dixon Hunt (ed.), New York, Garland, 1982.

L. Châtelet-Lange, "Salomon de Caus, contestation d’un mythe", Bulletin de la Société de l’Histoire de l’Art Français, 1988 (1989), pp. 25-32.

G. Böhme & H. Böhme, Feuer, Wasser, Erde, Luft. Eine Kulturgeschichte der Elemente, Munich, Beck, 1996.

W. Fleischhauer, "Zur Tätigkeit des Salomon de Caus an den Grottenwerken zu Brüssel, Heidelberg und Stuttgart", K. Elm, E. Gönner & E. Hillenbrand (ed.), Landesgeschichte und Geistesgeschichte, Festschrift für Otto Herding zum 65. Geburtstag, Stuttgart, Kohlhammer, 1977, pp. 372-381.

B. Franke, "...zur Lust und Zierde der Palläst und Gärten : Salomon de Caus und die Grottenkunst", U. Härting (ed.), Gärten und Höfe der Rubenszeit im Spiegel der Malerfamilie Brueghel und der Künstler um Peter Paul Rubens, Munich, Hirmer, 2000, pp. 83-88.

F. Hepp, R. Leiner, R. Mach & M. Popplow (ed.), Magische Maschinen. Salomon de Caus’ Erfindungen für den Heidelberger Schlossgarten 1614-1619, Neustadt an der Weinstraße, Pollichia, 2008.

K. de Jonge, "Ein Netz von Grotten und Springbrunnen. Die Warande zu Brüssel um 1600", U. Härting (ed.), Gärten und Höfe der Rubenszeit im Spiegel der Malerfamilie Brueghel und der Künstler um Peter Paul Rubens, Munich, Hirmer, 2000, pp. 89-105.

P. Lombaerde, "Pietro Sardi, Georg Müller, Salomon de Caus und die Wasserkünste des Coudenberg-Gartens in Brüssel", Die Gartenkunst, 2, 1991, pp. 159-188.

C. S. Maks, Salomon de Caus 1576-1626, Paris, Jouve & Cie, 1935.

L. Morgan, Nature as model: Salomon de Caus and early seventeenth-century landscape design, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, University of Pennsylvannia Press, 2007.

Noch "...eine neue Heidelberger Debatte anfangen?" Rekonstruktion und Gartendenkmalpflege, hg. v. der Vereinigung der Landesdenkmalpfleger der Bundesrepublik, S. Brandt (ed.) (Berichte zur Forschung und Praxis der Denkmalpflege in Deutschland 15), Petersberg, 2008.

R. Patterson, "The Hortus Palatinus at Heidelberg and the Reformation of the World, Part I : The Iconography of the Garden", Journal of Garden History, 1, 1981, pp. 67–104.

R. Patterson, "The Hortus Palatinus at Heidelberg and the Reformation of the World, Part II : Culture as Science", Journal of Garden History, 1, 1981, pp. 179-202.

M. Popplow, Neu, nützlich und erfindungsreich. Die Idealisierung von Technik in der Frühen Neuzeit (Cottbusser Studien zur Geschichte von Technik, Arbeit und Umwelt 5), Münster/New York/Munich/Berlin, Waxmann, 1998.

P. Saintenoy, Les arts et les artistes à la cour de Bruxelles (Mémoire de l’Académie de Belgique, Classe des beaux arts, 2nd series), 2, pp. 85-113 ; 6, p. 67.

L. Schmieder, "Der Heidelberger Schlossgarten. Eine geschichtliche Studie", Mannheimer Geschichtsblätter, 37, 1936, pp. 4-56.

M. Völkel, Das Bild vom Schloss. Darstellung und Selbstdarstellung deutscher Höfe in Architekturstichserien 1600-1800, Berlin, Deutscher Kunstverlag, 2001, pp. 37-41.

Wunder und Wissenschaft. Salomon de Caus und die Automatenkunst in Gärten um 1600, Exhibition Catalogue published by the Foundation Schloss und Park Benrath, Düsseldorf, 2008.