Porcia, Schloss

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Palace in Spittal an der Drau, Carinthia, Austria. It was built as the residence of Gabriel of Salamanca (1489/90–1539), the Spanish chancellor and financier of Ferdinand I, King of Bohemia (later Holy Roman Emperor, reg 1558–64). Gabriel was created Graf von Ortenberg in 1524, and the large palace, intended as the seat of the Salamanca family, was probably begun c. 1533. It took his sons and grandsons about 60 years to complete, but the original design was followed owing to a wooden model (untraced) supplied by the architect and mentioned in Gabriel's will. The architect is unknown, but he must have been one of the Lombards from the area of Lake Como who were responsible for introducing the Italian Renaissance to northern Europe. There are striking parallels between Schloss Porcia and the contemporary Belvedere (begun 1538) at Prague Castle, by Paolo Stella, although the exterior of Schloss Porcia is a less up-to-date version of an Italian Renaissance palace. It was designed as a cube with three main storeys and an attic, and with circular towers at the north-west and south-east corners. The exterior façades are rather plain, the most notable features being two sets of triple-arched and balconied windows on the first and second floors. The courtyard, however, is unexpectedly splendid, with three storeys of arcades running around three sides of the court. These arcades are adorned with sculptural decoration of rich imagination—although not always of outstanding quality—by local craftsmen. Both stone-carving (e.g. in capitals, doorframes, figural medallions and reliefs) and stucco (e.g. arcade vaults and interior ceilings) were employed; the ground-floor arcade spandrels display emperors’ heads in medallions, with ancient gods, heroes and animals appearing above. Doorframes are richly embellished: one on the third floor, for example, is flanked by columns and has jambs decorated with allegorical and other reliefs. In 1662 the princely Porcia family acquired the former Schloss Salamanca, retaining the building until 1918. The magnificent Baroque coat of arms above the main entrance and another on the south wall of the courtyard are evidence of their ownership, from which the palace derived its popular name.

From The Grove Encyclopedia of Northern Renaissance Art in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Renaissance Art.

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