Kassel Wilhelmshohe Ballroom House Exterior
The Ballroom House or Ball House stands on the grounds of the Wilhelmshöhe Palace in Kassel Wilhelmshöhe Hill Park, one of the venues for this year’s Documenta modern art show.
Kassel Ball House
In the early 1800’s, Europe was in the grip of a passion for dancing as the Viennese waltz spread across the continent. The ruler of Kassel, the Landgraf Wilhelm II, responded by appointing Johann Conrad Bromeis in 1828 to convert the little royal theater next to the Wilhelmshöhe Palace into a ballroom. Originally the ballroom was intended for public use, because the old dance hall nearby had been demolished in 1824. But in the end it was reserved for court society only.
In contrast to the simple outward, the visitor enters a spacious interior days in daylight or, at night, grandly illuminated. The walls and ceiling a richly painted with arabesques. The colorful frieze over marbled three-quarter columns displays Peretz, cockatoos, golden pheasants, and ravens between a canvas festoons. The original furniture included six couches no longer extant. The curtains have been faithfully re-created from surviving drawings.
Although the French occupation under Napoleon was now over, the Landgraf upon his return to power chose to decorate the ballroom in Empire style, opting for the French style that still prevailed at European courts. As a result, after the World War II destruction of the Wilhelmshöhe Palace, the Ballhaus is Kassel’s sole remaining example of the late empire interior decoration.