Our prompt this week is: the photograph, so I went downstairs and took a photo of this:
A 1500 piece puzzle that we purchased while visiting Germany. My husband loves puzzles and when we visited the town of Ravensburg, he spent some time at the toy store choosing the right one. He remembers his first puzzle being a Ravensburger, which I have come to understand is the Rolls Royce of puzzles. Every piece is cut with handmade tools to insure that no two pieces are the same! He chose a picture of Neuschwanstein Castle, which we visited a couple days after.
If Neuschwanstein Castle looks familiar, it may be because Walt Disney was inspired by the beauty of King Ludwig's masterpiece to create Cinderella's fantasy castle. Neuschwanstein was a true fairy tale castle before Disney, as It was built by King Ludwig II to look like a medieval castle in the 1800s. The castle looks older than it is, and there were "modern" conveniences like running water, telephone, and forced air heating included at the time of its construction.
This beautiful facade was built to hide a king that could not face reality. Ludwig grew up loving swans, and this became an obsession. At 13 he heard Wagner's Lohengrin, the story of a medieval knight of the Holy Grail who rescues a princess with the aid of a swan, and he was deeply moved by it. When he became king at the age of 18, he became Richard Wagner's patron. Neuschwanstein (new swan stone) was built as an ode to the composer's work, as well as a fantasy realm where the king lived only 11 nights (He slept during the day, and lived at night.) All the rooms of the castle have references to Wagner's operas, the most interesting being the "grotto" or cave. This artificial cave boasts a waterfall and stalactites, all made believe, and it refers to a cave from Wagner's Tannhäuser opera. King Ludwig died in mysterious circumstances at the age of 41, he never saw Neuschwanstein finished, nor is it finished now.
The castle continues to be an inspiration for many. My teacher and mentor Cynthia Osborne, made this lithograph to conmemorate the bicentennial of the development of lithography. Limestone, which is the stone used to make the plate used in this printmaking process, is still quarried in Solnhofen, Bavaria, not far from where Neuschwanstein castle stands.
"Bavarian Bicentennial Megalithographic Theme Park" by Cynthia Osborne, 1998