Painting of the villa

The villa at the turn of the century with the original Glienicke bridge

Together with Persius, the prince and his attendant transformed the house and grounds into a simple yet decorous riparian villa. The idea was to build a structure that would complement the Pleasureground across the way. The finished product to emerge in 1845 was a complex of buildings that the architect referred to as a "painterly ensemble," a series of three compartments, each a carefully proportioned, precisely symmetrical mass that stood beautifully both by itself and with the other sections. In a clever imitation of the Greek method of building with large stone blocks, Persius used ordinary bricks but plastered them heavily, then sculpted large squares out of the plaster.

Each of the wings had slightly different dimensions, resulting in an asymmetrical whole, a layering of perspectives. A steep narrow tower at the top, a departure from the Italian influence, was Persius's own signature. To enhance the effect of proximity to water, Persius placed the villa as close to the Havel as possible, surrounding it with poplar trees. The effect, however, was to leave no room for a majestic approach to the house. The front of the house fairly abutted the road, which gave the house a welcoming air.

pp. 30-31 The House at the Bridge


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