Impartial was Hummel’s approach to the park of Schloss Biebrich, which until completion of Wiesbaden’s Stadtschloss in 1841 was the seat of the House of Nassau and remained its summer residence right up to 1866. The scene is one of lush greenery with old trees soaring up into the blue and white sky, between them the spindly young nursery trees that will eventually take their place. A perfectly trimmed flat hedge crosses the picture field and between the bushes and the shrubs we are afforded a glimpse into the distance of an expanse of water at right, and of flower beds and topiary at left.
As if by the by, Hummel is in fact making a comment on the current state of the art of gardening: Between 1817 and 1823 Friedrich Ludwig von Sckell (1750–1823) had remodelled the Baroque garden of Schloss Biebrich as a classical “English landscape garden”; but in Hummel’s day the head of gardens to the ducal court of Nassau (from 1846 to 1866) was Karl Thelemann (1811–1889), who put the emphasis on flowering plants of the kind to which he dedicated two major exhibitions – “both glorious, both enchanting” – held in 1854 and 1861.1
Hummel must have attended the latter event and studied the exhibits with interest, for like his teacher Friedrich Preller the Elder, he was a friend of Eduard Petzold (1815–1891), gardener to the court of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, and both teacher and pupil alike contributed illustrations to Petzold’s landscape-gardening manual, Die Landschafts-Gärtnerei of 1862.2 Ten years earlier, Frederick, Duke of Orange-Nassau (1797–1881) had placed Petzold in charge of all the gardens belonging to the House of Orange-Nassau, including the newly acquired estate of Schloss Muskau, where Petzold had learned his trade under the maverick Prince Hermann of Pückler-Muskau. The affected nonchalance with which the old trees appear to dwarf the carefully clipped and trimmed plantings far below them in Hummel’s view of the park of Schloss Biebrich is thus not entirely without irony.
Pfister, F. J., “Gartendirektor Thelemann.” Obituary in Neubert's deutsches Gartenmagazin 42, 1899, p. 192; Digitalisat: http://ubsrvgoobi2.ub.tu-berlin.de/viewer/fullscreen/BV002572363_42/216/ (accessed: 11.02.2017).↩
Petzold, E., Die Landschafts-Gärtnerei (…) mit 19 landschaftlichen Ansichten nach Originalzeichnungen von Friedr. Preller und Carl Hummel, Leipzig 1862. Digitalisat: http://ubsrvgoobi2.ub.tu-berlin.de/viewer/resolver?urn=urn%3Anbn%3Ade%3Akobv%3A83-goobi-625922 (accessed: 11.02.2017).↩