Architecture and Art

Friedrich Bürklein, Architect of the Maxmilianeum
Friedrich Bürklein, Architect of the Maxmilianeum

The official function of the Maxmilianeum


The first plans for the Maximilianstrasse were created in 1851 by the architect Friedrich Bürklein (1813-1872), as part of a project for ‘beautifying Munich.’ He planned the boulevard as a center of urban commerce, which would serve to connect the city with the Isar and the Haidhausen district planned for across the river. The street, the center, and the bridge were to culminate in a picturesque crowning object, an acropolis above the Isar – what became the Maximilianeum.

The facade of the Maximilianeum
The facade of the Maximilianeum

Architecture: the Maximilian Style 


Maximilian II wanted his new street to have a unified appearance and prescribed the so-called ‘Maximilianstil’ to his architects: pointed arcades and verticality from the Anglo-Saxon Neo-Gothic style were the basis on which the best elements of all historical epochs of art would be unified with modern building techniques. The Maximilianeum, as the last building built, is at once the completion and decadent phase of the style: just before his death, the king ordered that rounded arches be added to the facade, which was already under construction.

View from the arcades
View from the arcades

Art in the Maximilianeum

At the beginning (see The charter - document only available in german) the Foundation consisted of 30 oil paintings and 24 marble busts, in addition to the building, its furnishings, and the monetary capital. The money was lost to inflation in the 1920s and only 17 of the 30 paintings survived the Second World War.

The paintings of the ‘historical gallery’ were created from 1852 under the direction of Leo von Klenze (1784-1864) and depict important moments of world history. The sculptors Peter Schöpf (1804-1875) and Johann Halbig (1814-1882) complement them with their busts in Carrara marble, representing benefactors, discoverers, wise men, men of letters, politicians, and generals. Paintings on the facade of the Maximilianeum and the inner rooms add to the artistic scheme.

The leading thought in the artistic program is twofold: beauty and truth. The time’s ideal of education stands behind the program. Art does not exist for its own sake, but also for the development of the people – and therefore must depict history, the ‘educator of humanity.’

The 17 historical paintings

Marble busts

4 of the 24 marble busts (f. l. t. r.: Prince Eugene of Savoy, Gustavus Adolphus, Turenne, Alexander the Great)
4 of the 24 marble busts (f. l. t. r.: Prince Eugene of Savoy, Gustavus Adolphus, Turenne, Alexander the Great)

1. Alexander the Great (*356, †323)

On his campaign, the student of Aristotle and Macedonian King spread Greek culture as far as India.

2. Cyrus (†529)

Established the Persian Empire. Under his reign the Jews were freed from Babylonian imprisonment.

3. Solon (*c. 640, †c. 561)

The Greek statesman and poet introduced the first democratic reforms into the Athenian constitution.

4. Francis of Assisi (*1181/82, †1226)

Gave up his paternal inheritance in order to lead a Christian life. Founded the Franciscan Order.

5. Turenne (*1611, †1675)

The Marshall General of France was distinguished for his methodical and clever leadership in war, and was considered a model by Napoleon.

6. Hannibal (*247/46, †183)

Through his extraordinary talent, the Carthaginian General became one of the greatest external dangers for republican Rome.

7. Gustavus Adolphus (*1594, †1632)

Out of concern for the future of German Protestantism, the Swedish King entered the Thirty Years War.

8. Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (*1646, †1716)

The development of calculus is only one of the many important achievements of the man of learning. He founded the Society of Science in 1700, out of which the Prussian Academy developed.

9. Gregory the Great (*c. 540, †604)

Centralized the Vatican administration. The name ‘Gregorian’ testifies to his great influence on church music.

10. Prince Eugene of Savoy (*1663, †1736)

The Austrian General won fame for his victories in the Great Turkish War. As an imperial advisor, he proved his political acumen.

11. Vincent de Paul (*1581, †1660)

Spent most of his life in Paris, where he dedicated himself to the care of the poor. Numerous charitable institutions are traced back to him.

12. Confucius (*c. 551, †479 BCE)

Although the philosopher was unable to carry out societal reforms in his lifetime, his moral and political philosophy is influential on Chinese culture and far beyond to this day.



12 further busts stand as permanent loans in the rooms of the Parliament.