The collection of Rundāle Palace Museum contains fragments of several stoves from Apriķi Manor, which invite contemplation on the luxurious interiors of the manor house and the vision of its author Christoph Friedrich von der Osten-Sacken (1697–1759). The manor house was built between 1742 and 1745. The coat of arms of the Osten-Sacken and Korff alliance is represented on the pediment on the courtyard side, as the first wife of the Country Steward (Landhofmeister) of Courland Christoph Friedrich von der Osten-Sacken was Catharina von Korff (1700–1742).
The pediment on the garden façade featured the coat of arms of his second wife Juliana Louise von den Brincken, although it was removed during the construction of the veranda in the 1960s. A fragment of the relief found in the attic is now displayed in the Rundāle Palace Museum. From 1740 to 1758, Christoph Friedrich von der Osten-Sacken was appointed as the Regent of the Duchy of Courland, and presumably the luxurious décor of the manor house with painted Danzig stoves and intarsia doors was in keeping with his high status.
The identification of masters for one of the stoves was possible by searching for analogies. The closest match was the stoves at Château de Chambord, which in 1748–1749 were commissioned by Maréchal de France Maurice de Saxe from a Danzig craftsman J. M. Schmidt. From 1725 to 1733 Château de Chambord was the exile residence of the King of Poland Stanisław Leszczyński, whereas Maurice de Saxe resided there from 1748 until 1750.
In 1935, the three stoves of Apriķi Manor – one white and two painted, described as Dutch tile stoves by the Board of Monuments – were included in the list of State protected cultural monuments. In 1940, the Board of Monuments permitted for the stoves to be demolished and transferred to Riga following the request of the Elder of Apriķi Parish, who had reported the stoves could no longer heat the school’s premises established in the manor. Fragments of a stove that the Rundāle Palace Museum received in 1981 were from these tile stoves collected by the Board of Monuments, which until then had been stored at the Ethnographic Open-Air Museum of Latvia.
One stove featuring standard size tiles (29.5 x 22.5 cm), decorated with painted scenes in blue cobalt inside a relief ornamental frame, is a direct analogy to the stove of Château de Chambord. This similarity can be established not only regarding the painting of its body tiles but also corner tiles, which feature a specific ornamental relief. A black glazed version of the relief characteristic of this type of stove was also found in the house on Stūrmaņu Street in Liepāja. Considering variation in size, it is possible that the tiles made in Danzig served as a model for a potter of Courland.
The second type of stoves were made of large format (41 x 32 cm) flat tiles – one with cobalt blue and the other with manganese purple painting in ornamental flower cartouches depicting scenes with people.
Both types of stoves can be seen in the photographs from 1931. These are two-level stoves with a refracted mantelshelf and pediment, crowned with a distinct dome and a niche in the centre of the second level. The stoves are propped up on feet made in the form of animal paws. Paintings are artistically executed with tonal shading and finely detailed contours. Cobalt paintings depict hunting scenes while manganese paintings portray household scenes or allegories.
Two types of tiles with white baluster
Small (22 x 18 cm) black glazed relief corner tiles with white angled baluster have survived as separate finds from the oldest period. A similar relief and corner tile baluster was found on a stove with manganese violet fuzzy cross-grain effect. Its fragment is displayed in the exhibition “From the Gothic Style to Art Nouveau” at Rundāle Palace. A simple black glazed dome with marbled white and blue volute elements is also displayed in the exhibition. These fragments were found in the attic of Apriķi Manor by the RPM staff during an expedition in 1974.
Currently Apriķi Manor has a two-level stove made of black glazed relief tiles. It has marbled white outline strips and a mantelshelf, painted pediment and a dome. A different version of the stove with black glazed relief tiles and white lath outline strips, pediment and a dome can be seen in the photograph from 1931. In 1985, staff from the Rundāle Palace Museum took apart and transported to the museum the remains of a similar black stove and a painted blue pediment fragment.
Photos of the hall of Apriķi Manor show a two-level stove made of white glazed relief tiles with a niche, mantelshelf, pediment and a dome. Along with the painted tiles, several other fragments of this stove arrived in the collection of Rundāle Palace Museum – the upper part of niche with a relief head of elderly man, refracted mantelshelf, as well as a few body tiles and outline strips. During the expedition of 1985, one corner tile of the narrow strip was also found. Black and white stoves have identical rectangular jagged relief frames on their body tiles with differing corner tile relief ornament. Date – 4th quarter of the 18th century.
Sloping corner tiles with a different ornamental relief of the black stove
Karl Christoph Friedrich von der Osten-Sacken (1721-1790) was the proprietor of the manor from 1759 to 1790 when the property was acquired by Christopher von Korff (1738–1811) following his marriage to Karl’s daughter Juliane Katharina (†1805), but after the death of Juliane Katharina in 1805 the property was divided between the Major Christopher von Korff, his son and daughter. Apriķi Manor went to Karl Alexander.
During the expedition of 1984, a few unglazed tiles of stoves from different periods made in the late 18th century were also found. A body tile with a straight roller relief frame was used to repair the hall’s white stove. Several frieze and cornice tiles of the 1st quarter of the 19th century may have survived from the time of Karl Alexander von Corfu.
In 1852 Apriķi Manor was bought by August von der Recke. Afterwards the manor often changed hands – in 1857 Emilie von Stromberg sold it to Baron Reinhold von Nolde; in 1892 it was acquired by Eberhard Berens von Rautenfeld (1822–1895); in 1900 Georg von Puttkamer and Stephan Vereščak bought it from Anna von Schoultz-Ascheraden. From 1901, the owner of the manor was Anastasia Arapowa – the future wife of the Finnish Marshal Carl Gustav Mannerheim, but in in 1912 she sold the property to Max von der Osten-Sacken who remained its proprietor until the Agrarian Reform Law in Latvia.
Written by: Lauma Lancmane
Exhibition Curator and Chief Specialist in the Art Research Department at RPM