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Between 1796 and 1800 Baron Peter von Braun, a rich businessman and manager of Vienna's court theaters, transformed his estate at Schnau into an English-style landscape park. Among several buildings with which he embellished his garden, the most remarkable and celebrated was the Temple of Night, a domed rotunda accessible only through a meandering rockwork grotto that led visitors to believe that their destination lay somewhere deep underground. A life-size statue of the goddess Night on a chariot pulled by two horses presided over the Temple, while from the dome, which depicted the night sky, came the sounds of a mechanical musical instrument that visitors likened to music of the spheres. Only the ruins of the Temple of Night survive, and it has received little scholarly attention. This book brings it back to life by assembling the many descriptions of it by early nineteenth-century eyewitnesses. Placing the Temple within the context of the eighteenth-century English landscape park and of Viennese culture in the fascinating period of transition between Enlightenment and Biedermeier, Rice's book will appeal to anyone interested in the history of garden design, architecture, theater, and music.
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