Beyond the Pale

Berlin: Rococo-a-gogo
October 18, 2009, 7:42 pm
Filed under: Berlin, Castles, Decadence, Etsy, Fripperies, History, Holidays, Marie Antoinette, Palaces, Royalty, Trinkets

Aha! My last post seemed to get lost somewhere between me writing it and, um, anything whatsoever appearing on my blog. Therefore – if you have been pining, desperately worried about the lack of posts or wondering if I’ve been residing at Her Majesty’s Pleasure – fear not, Gentle Reader!

I have been to Berlin on holiday and returned yesterday evening. Marvelous and full of wonders, it was, but I shall break up the many, many pictures and post about differing sections of the holiday, I think. It seems best not to leave you in the lurch and then bamboozle you with an overload of information.

I absolutely MUST begin with what was actually one of the last days of adventure during our week away. A trip to Schloss Charlottenburg – the city’s largest and most impressive palace. The following two photos were taken by me, in the pouring rain, so forgive their slightly blurry and dull appearance!

Schloss Charlottenburg

Schloss Charlottenburg2

The audio tour was extremely interesting & informative – I am now quite fascinated with the various inhabitants of the Schloss [castle] and purchased a book in the museum’s shop to learn more about them.

Sophia Charlotte of Hanover – later, Queen of Prussia – had the palace built – then known as Litzenburg – as a little place to hold her court and, mainly to surround herself with philosophers, scientists, artists and musicians. She was renowned for being incredibly intelligent and a huge supporter of the Arts, as well as an internationally acclaimed beauty.

Sophia Charlotte, Queen of Prussia

A contemporary, on meeting her, described her thus: “She has big, gentle eyes, thick black hair, eyebrows as if drawn by a compass, a well-proportioned nose, incarnadine lips, very good teeth and a lively complexion.”

She may not be what modern standards describe good looking, today, but this goes to show our changing view of what constitutes female beauty. Back then she had such power and immense knowledge that, combined with her looks, Peter the Great on meeting her was literally dumbstruck. He couldn’t get a single word out, so intimidated was he; but Sophia was a naturally charming and humorous woman, so quickly put him at his ease. He was so grateful that he gifted her many trunks full of brocade and furs.

Sophia is now mainly remembered as the chief supporter of her former tutor, the polymath Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, who she persuaded to found the Academy of Sciences at her court in Berlin. She very much enjoyed challenging & lively philosophical discussions, and used to take regular walks with Leibniz for the purpose of these discussions.

Sophia Charlotte enjoying a stroll with Leibniz

Sophia Charlotte enjoying a stroll with Leibniz

Known as “philosophical strolls” they are said to have inspired one of the scholar’s major works, the so-called Theodicee, in which he strives to answer the question of how a loving and omnipotent God can allow evil to exist in the world He created. This was a question which particularly frustrated the Queen, and which she posed to him time and again. He was an incredibly busy chap, all things told, and in his spare time invented the binary system. Or “co-discovered” it. A topic that induces philosophers to rage, apparently, so I shall leave it for them to thrash out. Suffice to say, he was quite clever.

Freidrick III, King of Prussia

Sophia’s husband, Frederick I of Prussia, lived separately from his wife and was only allowed to visit the palace at her express invitation. He didn’t actually regularly use his apartments there until after her death, when he renamed the palace Charlottenburg in her honour.

Easily one of the most breathtaking rooms is the Golden Gallery. Click on the link for an awe-inspiring panoramic view of this magnificent ballroom! The gallery is 42 meters long and decorated with an abundance of golden shells, tendrils, flowers and fruit. The large, airy windows, many mirrors and the colours used lend to the impression of being in a garden.

Golden Gallery

Indeed, the idea was for guests to feel they were dancing in a splendid fairytale garden. It’s very much in keeping with the Frederican Rococo ideal and is spectacular yet somewhat overwhelming to walk through. I liked to imagine the candlelit scenes that would have taken place in the room.

I have never been to Versailles, but had the impression that Marie Antoinette would come sauntering through the room at any minute. Though Antoinette herself has nothing to do with Charlottenburg, the impression of Versailles is not an entirely misleading one. Between 1701-1702, the main axis of the building was extended on both sides, with a prestigious show-facade on the model of Louis XIV’s palace.

The urge to break into a waltz in the Golden Gallery was hurriedly quashed as the many disapproving attendants looked on. I had already been told off twice (once for having a bag – even though every other visitor did. Once for taking a picture of a ceiling, as all photography is forbidden, but they don’t tell you that until 10 minutes into the tour. Oops!).


I have much more to say about Schloss Charlottenburg, especially the many famous and beautiful works of art that live there, and which I was quite enchanted by. Some particularly drool-worthy portraits of ladies in waiting and their fabulous clothes in the “Gallery of Beauties” and That Picture of Napolean-on-rearing-horse which they don’t really make a huge deal of having. You just walk into the room and there it is on the wall beside you. Quite stunning, but I shall save my frothing ferver for next time. 😉

Until then… were you expecting it? Well, then you are (hopefully) not to be disappointed! A selection of Etsy items, inspired – of course – by my visit to Charlottenburg. I hope you enjoy browsing though the gallery of gorgeousness.


Direct links to items shown

1st row, left to right: Kirby, Mary Kaiser, Del Guidice Studio

2nd row: Friedasophie, Oh Miroir, Vorpal

3rd row: Rusalka, From Rags to Bags, Heatherly Designs

4th row: Pink Street, Cindy Mars 7, Mackenzie Frames

I also happen to think you deserve a closer look at some of these temptations…

Just look at how delicate and subtle this little print is:

Boudoir Fan 4x4 print, by Kirby: $10

Boudoir Fan 4x4 print, by Kirby: $10

And I just adore these wonderfully over-the-top (very Rococo) pin cushions. I’d use them for storing brooches or perhaps a collection of vintage hatpins, I think. Needles don’t get an awful lot of use in my household, and it would be such a shame to hide these darlings away!

Petit Pink Coussin by Mary Kaiser: $31

Petit Pink Coussin by Mary Kaiser: $31

The fabric used for this gorgeous bolero has a particularly Rococo look about it, don’t you think? I would so wear this with jeans and plain t-shirt or something underneath, just to add a touch of glamour to an everyday outfit. Love that look! Oh, and it can also be made to your exact measurements – be sure to contact the designer and let her know your requirements. She’ll gladly mail you swatches of her fabrics, too, so you can a better idea of the colours & patterns used.

The Palatino Bolero by Del Guidice Studio: $82

The Palatino Bolero by Del Guidice Studio: $82

I’d love to show you all these close-up, and all of the other items these talented designers sell, but I haven’t the time or room! I shall leave you to explore, but must show you one last item I didn’t include, as I had already featured a different item from their shop. Don’t you just love the witty nature of this ‘framed’ pearl? I don’t usually go a bundle for gold jewellery, but this is just perfect…

Portrait Pearl Necklace by Pink Street: $27.50

Portrait Pearl Necklace by Pink Street: $27.50

And now I must go and make pasta as I’ve been so entranced by the world of Sophie Charlotte and her contemporaries that I’m running several hours late! Oh well. As needs must.

Until next time (when I’ll bombard you with more holiday photos, waffle on about paintings and talk nonsense, one imagines) take care, darlings.

Miss Nightingale,


9 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Hello Suzy,
Your blog reflects careful and thoughtful design. I am very honored that you featured my petite coussins. I will be watching your new additions.Where are you located?
Best regards,

Comment by mary kaiser

Hello Mary, I’m so glad you are enjoying my blog. It’s very close to my heart, this little blog, so that means a lot to me. Thank you! I have featured two of your bags in Treasury selections on Etsy, so thought it high time to feature one of your other gorgeous items on my blog. 🙂

Oh, and I live in the UK, by the way. A funny little place near(ish) London (you can read more about it in the About Me section of my blog).

Thanks again, and I do hope you enjoy my future posts. 🙂


Comment by beyondthepaleblog

Hi Suzy

Thanks for including my Rococo clutch bag in your wonderful blog. I have had Berlin on my to visit list for a while, so shall be making notes from your blog!

Best wishes


Comment by Alison

Hi Alison,

Thank you – I love your bags so it was lovely to feature one of them. 🙂

Berlin is a fabulous city to visit, I shall try to include some places I think everyone visiting Berlin should go to!

Very best wishes,


Comment by beyondthepaleblog

It is so very kind of you to feature two of my necklaces on your blog. I’m so glad you did, for I might never have discovered it otherwise, and it’s absolutely charming. You and I share a love (perhaps even an obsession?) with Victorian England. I studied literature in college, and British 19th century was my particular area of specialization. I love Thackeray, I can’t get enough of Dickens, I admire Collins, and of course I adore Austen — though I suppose she’s not strictly Victorian — but then, who doesn’t adore Jane Austen (Charlotte Bronte excepted)?
Anyway, not the point. Thank you again for featuring me, and for taking the time to write and tell me about it. Your holiday to Germany sounds beautiful. I’ll be back to see what other loveliness you post in future!
— Sarah

Comment by Sarah


Thank you so much for your comment – I am thrilled you are also obsessed with Victorian England! And oh yes, it’s certainly an obsession. I can’t get enough of the period, though of course – as you see – I am (almost) equally obsessed with the 17th/18th century, too. I am sure I shall go through a phase of being obsessed with the 1920’s/30’s again, soon, but for now I’m staying way back. 😉

It was literature that got me hooked, too. I studied English Literature at BA then MA levels and am often found defending Dickens against people who suppose him to be a cosy, even twee writer. It is then I get on my soapbox and start lecturing them about his groundbreaking journalism and from there I start harping on about Henry Mayhew’s London Labour and the London Poor. A masterpiece and an absolutely invaluable guide to anyone interested in the seamier side of Victorian London.

Oh, if you haven’t already, do take a look at the utterly brilliant Victorian London website, written by the author Lee Jackson: You’ll be there for hours. 😉

Thank you again for your comment, it makes my day to know my readers have such refined tastes (by which I mean very like my own. 😉 )


Comment by beyondthepaleblog

Oh, you have such a lovely blog! This is such a fascinating post, and I am honoured that you included my little Boudoir lady. I’ve always wanted to visit Berlin, but have never made it there. It sounds like a wonderful place to visit!

Comment by Sarah

Hello Suzy,

I’m so glad you found me on Etsy. Thanks so much for including my Rococo Style frame in you piece.

What a lovely writing style you have. Keep it up ’cause I’m following you now!


Comment by Denise Mackenzie

[…] Berlin: Rococo-a-gogo […]

Pingback by Berlin Part II: Charlottenburg Continued… « Beyond the Pale

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: