Skokloster Castle, Skokloster, Sweden

Skokloster Castle is a Swedish Baroque castle built between 1654 and 1676 by Carl Gustaf Wrangel, located on a peninsula of Lake Mälaren between Stockholm and Uppsala. It became a state museum in the 1970s and displays collections of paintings, furniture, textiles and tableware as well as books and weapons.

The finished parts of the castle display the full, sumptuous splendour of the Baroque. Its detailed chambers are home to collections of paintings, furniture, textiles and silver and glass tableware. One of the most famous paintings is the 16th century Vertumnus by Italian master Giuseppe Arcimboldo, depicting the face of Holy Roman emperor Rudolf II as the Roman god of the seasons using fruits and vegetables. The painting was taken as war booty in Prague in the 17th century.

The castle armoury and library are noteworthy, both founded on Wrangel’s collections of weapons and books and enriched and enlarged by other 17th- and 18th-century aristocratic bequests, such as those by Carl Gustaf Bielke.

The armoury contains the largest collection of personal 17th century military weapons in the world. Mostly muskets and pistols, but also swords – including Japanese samurai swords – small cannons, pikes and crossbows. The weapons collection also includes various exotic items such as a 16th-century Eskimo canoe and snake skins. The original scale model of the castle, which the architect Caspar Vogel had made to demonstrate his plan to Count Wrangel, is also there.

Skokloster Castle is located at the countryside 60 km northwest of Stockholm, the Swedish capital. Together with the Hallwyl Museum and the Royal Armoury the castle constitutes a national authority, headed by a Director General, and accountable to the Ministry of Culture. The three museums base their work on a national cultural policy resolution enacted by Swedish Parliament. Skokloster Castle is one of the mayor monuments from the period when Sweden was one of the most powerful countries in Europe. It’s built in the baroque style between 1654 and 1676. At Skokloster the Field Marshal and Count Carl Gustaf Wrangel (1613-1676) created a stately home of European caliber during the second half of the 17th century. Just like continental princes, he tried to understand the world by collecting the most remarkable things that Man and nature were capable of making. The castle has remained amazingly untouched for more than 300 years, giving this building a unique authenticity. Wrangel and the following owners collected fine arts like armory, books, silver, glass, textiles and furniture. The collection consists of about 50 000 items in the 77 rooms in the Castle. Skokloster is considered one of the great castles of Baroque Europe.

Since the owner died in 1676, the castle was never really completed. This is a fact that you can see by your self just visit the banqueting hall which remains in the exact same conditions, tools included, as the builders left it the same day as Wrangel died. Carl Gustaf Wrangel had no son who survived him. Instead Skokloster passed to his daughter, Margareta Juliana.
She married Nils Brahe, a member of Sweden’s most exalted countly family. She made Skokloster Castle to an entailed estate in 1701. From that time nothing was allowed to be taken from the Castle. Everything is left intact since late 1700th century. We have to thank her and this form of ownership for our counting possession of its original furnishings and of the objects added through the centuries by inheritance, purchase and donations. The Castle was never a permanent home before 1947 when the von Essen family moved in. They were the last private owners. Since 1967 Skokloster is stately owned. Skokloster Castle has been a national museum of cultural history since 1967. Professor Ove Hidemark’s groundbreaking restoration has set the tone of present-day heritage conservation respect for old building techniques and preservation of the atmospheric patina of age.

The Skokloster Castle collections number a thousand pictures, from the 15th century to 1961. Of the 770 pictures left by Carl Gustaf Wrangel, at his death in 1676, some 150 have been identified at the Castle. The portraits, numbering 600 items, are the biggest category, followed by landscapes, history paintings, religious paintings, still-lifes, genre paintings, allegories and mythological pictures. Apart from those which belonged to Wrangel, the remaining 850 or so were collected and preserved by subsequent owners down to 1967 through inheritance, gifts and purchase. The great majority come from the Brahe family, who owned Skokloster for 253 years.