Chinese House

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Erik van den Ham on July 30, 2011

Chinese House

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Chinese House

The Chinese House (German: Chinesisches Haus) is a garden pavilion in Sanssouci Park in Potsdam. Frederick the Great had it built, about seven hundred meters southwest of the Sanssouci Summer Palace, to adorn his flower and vegetable garden. The garden architect was Johnn Gottfried Büring, who between 1755 and 1764 designed the pavilion in the then-popular style of Chinoiserie, a mixture of ornamental rococo elements and parts of Oriental architecture.

The unusually long building time of nine years is attributed to the Seven Years' War, during which Prussia's economic and financial situation suffered significantly. Only after the end of the war in 1763 were the chambers inside the pavilion furnished. As the building served not only as a decorative piece of garden architecture but also as a setting for small social events, Frederick the Great ordered the building of a Chinese Kitchen, a few meters south-east of the Chinese House. After a conversion in 1789, only the hexagonal windows show the Oriental character of the former outbuilding. A few years later, the Dragon House was built in the form of a Chinese pagoda on the northern edge of Sanssouci Park bordering Klausberg. The building was Frederick the Great's attempt to follow the Chinese fashion of the 18th century, which began in France before spreading to England, Germany, and Russia.


In the 17th century, Dutch traders brought Chinese mother-of-pearl, lacquer, silks and porcelain to Europe. In the noble courts of the baroque era, an interest in Oriental arts grew during the rococo period into Chinoiserie, a genuine fashion for all things Chinese. In addition to the enthusiasm for Asian luxury goods which harmonized with the certain forms of rococo, travelogues and exhibitions portrayed the carefree living of the Chinese, which corresponded with the European courts' ideal of a relaxed lifestyle. Whole rooms of palaces were decorated with porcelain, small Chinese-style furniture and wall murals which presented the ideal world that was supposedly China

. Architecture

Frederick the Great modeled the Chinese House on the Maison du trefle, a 1738 garden pavilion in the palace grounds of Lunéville, France. This trefoil-shaped building was created by the French architect Emmanuel Héré de Corny for the Duke of Lorraine, Stanisław Leszczyński, former King of Poland, who lived in exile in France. An exemplar of one of the etchings of the Maison published by Héré in 1753 was in the possession of Frederick the Great.

Outer design

Northern entrance to the Chinese House The Chinese House has the shape of a trefoil. The rounded central building contains three cabinet rooms regularly interspersed with free spaces. Rounded windows and French windows that reach almost to the ground let light into the pavilion's interior. The rolling tented copper ceiling is supported in the free space by four gilded sandstone columns, the work of the Swiss ornamental sculptor Johann Melchior Kambly, who was in the employ of Frederick the Great from 1746. The gilded sandstone sculptures that sit at the feet of the columns and stand at the walls of the rooms originate from the workshops of the sculptors Johann Gottlieb Heymüller and Johann Peter Benckert. People from the area stood as models for the eating, drinking and music-making Chinese figures, which explains the statues' European features.

The cupola crowning the roof is surmounted by a gilded Chinese figure with an open parasol. Friedrich Jury created it in copper after a design by the sculptor Benjamin Giese. Light falls into the central chamber through the long oval window openings of the cupola as it does through the windows in the façade.

Interior design

The wall of the circular central chamber, accessible by the north side, is coated with stucco marble. Monkeys with musical instruments worked in stucco over the French windows, brackets holding porcelain and wall sconces between the windows are all coated with gold leaf. Likewise coated is a richly decorated chandelier which hangs from the cupola.

The ceiling painting on the higher circuit of the room is the work of Thomas Huber, dating from 1756. Huber also painted the ceilings of the empty chambers on the exterior surface. The plans of the French artist Blaise Nicholas Le Sueur, who taught as an art master at the Berlin Academy of Arts, served as a model for the interior. The ceiling paintings show Oriental men behind a balustrade, some looking into the room, others chatting with one another. They are surrounded by parrots, monkeys and Buddhas sitting on posts. The walls between the central room and the adjoining chambers are decorated with brightly-coloured, silken wall coverings painted with floral patterns, at the time a desired and valuable wall textile known as "Pekings". As may be seen here, Frederick the Great preferred to use for the interiors of his buildings only the highest quality materials manufactured by Prussian silk factories. Small fragments of this wall covering were used as a model for the reconstruction of the original during a restoration of 1990–1993.

Erik van den Ham on July 31, 2011

Merci Annie pour vos aimables paroles. Bonne journée et les salutations des Pays-Bas, Erik

bdeh on July 31, 2011

Prachtig en wat een details in de beelden, ramen en kolommen Erik. Groeten Berend

Chris10 © on July 31, 2011

Schitterend en mooi gedecoreerd huis Erik. Dat is toch een kunstwerk op zich hè. Moet je die bovenkant eens zien, onder het parasolletje.. Heel bijzonder hoofd heeft die persoon.

Groetjes, Christien.

Heel even dacht ik nog dat de zon door zou breken, maar nee.... nog niet.

Jack Tol on July 31, 2011

Da's een mooi gefotografeerd en indrukwekkend Chinees prieeltje Erik. Gelukkig is het niet allemaal massief goud, want anders had denk ik alleen nu nog de fundering er gestaan. Overigens heb ik je begeleidend commentaar ook weer tot mij genomen, want je bent natuurlijk nooit te oud om te leren.

Groeten, Jack

Bram van Broekhoven on July 31, 2011

prachtig gebouwtje, en heel mooi gefotografeerd like

voor de rest sluit ik mij bij de vorige commentaren aan.

© Bear on July 31, 2011

Ziet er weer fraai uit Erik. Mooi!

Erik van den Ham on July 31, 2011

Hallo Berend, Chris10, Jack en Jasper aan details hier weer geen gebrek alles is zeer rijk gedecoreerd. In zo'park valt ook een hoop te zien en te leren Jack. Wij hebben dan ook zoals een vriend tipte eerst een boek gehaald over de tuin. Zodat je hier rond kan lopen en dingen kan begrijpen en voornamelijk ook dat je gaat kijken bij alles waarvan je denk dat het de moeite waard is. In dit park heb je eigenlijk aan twee dagen nog niet genoeg, maar alles hangt af van wat je graag wil bekijken. De interieurs hebben wij niet eens bekeken omdat we nog meer op ons programma hadden staan.

Dank voor jullie Likes /Moois en interesse.

Groeten, Erik

Nadia Kushnir on July 31, 2011

Yes, very nice! LIKE!

Theolfa on August 1, 2011

What an interesting history this 'garden pavilion' has. It is a spectacular piece of architecture, Erik , and has so much detail to browse when the picture is enlarged. A 'bit over the top' for my garden ;D

Erik van den Ham on August 1, 2011

Thank you Nadia

Oh Theolfa if only I was a KING and filthy rich. I would build me my own paradise just like Frederick did. I agree, this is a little over the top for almost every garden but not in this park.

Cheers, Erik

Finn Lyngesen flfoto… on August 1, 2011

Very beautiful colorful composition. LIKE :o)

Greetings. Finn.

Alireza Javaheri on August 2, 2011
  • Beautiful Photo & Excellent shot & Nice view
  • * L I K E *
  • Greetings
  • A-J
khoi tranduc on August 3, 2011

Very nice photo! Like!

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Photo details

  • Uploaded on July 30, 2011
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    by Erik van den Ham