A Renaissance and Baroque delight

Weikersheim Palace and Garden

Humorous rarities in Weikersheim Palace Gardens

The Dwarfs' Gallery

Standing on the balustrade at the entrance to the palace gardens are dwarfs for which Weikersheim Palace Gardens is famed. The 16 comical figures are traditionally identified as caricatures of Weikersheim's royal household. However, they are not portraits of real people.

Weikersheim Garden, court hunt master; Photo: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Arnim Weischer

With large aquiline nose: the court hunt master.

The Sommer family of artists

Sculptor Johann Jakob Sommer of Künzelsau delivered 14 of the dwarfs between 1711 and 1712. Invoices for them still exist. These old papers document precisely from where these unusual pieces originate. Many generations of the Sommer family of artists worked not only at Weikersheim Palace but for other estates as well.

Unique Weikersheim dwarfs

Large dwarf figures like those found in Weikersheim are very rare and hardly any have been preserved in other palace gardens. This means there is little with which to compare them. Small dwarf figures that were displayed in palaces with other collectors' items were popular. They can almost always be traced back to caricatures by French illustrator Jacques Callot. The Weikersheim figures neither have anything to do with these Callot dwarfs nor with today's garden gnomes. They are something quite special!

Weikersheim Garden, court jester; Photo: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Arnim Weischer

One of the smallest dwarfs: the court jester.

Dwarves as court staff

No court was complete without a court dwarf or jester: noble rulers adorned their court with gnomes. The 18th century paid little heed to people's dignity. Society unashamedly laughed with ribald humour at anyone with a handicap. Weikersheim even had a “black Moor” living at the royal court. When he was no longer needed, the man of African origins was simply passed onto another court – like an object.

A wide range of figures with different roles populate the palace gardens.

Other highlights in Weikersheim Palace and Garden