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Gripsholm Castle


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Swedish royal fortification and residence in Mariefred, near Stockholm, begun in 1537 by King Gustav I. It is one of the finest remaining examples of Swedish architecture of the Vasa dynasty (1523–1600) founded by Gustav, and combines sophisticated Renaissance interiors with a form that remains essentially medieval. The site, strategic since Viking times, became more important during the Middle Ages when an estate and castle were erected in 1383 by Chancellor Bo Jonsson. In 1472 the property was purchased by Sten Sture the Elder (1440–1503), who donated it in 1498 to a Carthusian monastery. Gustav I seized the property in 1526, claiming the legal rights of inheritance through his kinship with Sten Sture. The existing medieval stone keep was inadequate for Gustav, who commissioned the architect Henrik Cöllen to design a new castle (begun 1537), a practical fortress-refuge for the king, his family and the royal chancery and treasury. Defensive in nature, the castle has a polygonal plan, with four massive circular towers at the angles. Built of brick, with 3–4 m thick walls surrounded by a moat, it retains a bold, severe appearance with few extraneous details, although a picturesque element is added by the irregular silhouette of towers and roofs. A painted ceiling in Halberdiers’ Hall, attributed to Anders Larsson, survives from 1543. The year 1578 marked the completion of major restorations initiated by Duke Karl (later Karl IX; reg 1604–11), who wanted quarters to befit the position of a Renaissance king; and further alterations took place during the 1590s. The 16th-century interiors of Gripsholm are among Sweden's greatest Renaissance treasures.

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

Subjects: Renaissance Art.



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