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Deutsches Technikmuseum - September

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Exhibit of the Month September 2018

Photo: The ornate blue stern is divided into three levels. Golden load-bearing figures from the lower floor support the central level. A golden balustrade runs along the upper level, the top of which ends in a spacious pediment.

The model of the SOLEIL ROYAL (scale 1:100) is owned by the International Maritime Museum Hamburg. © SDTB / Photo: C. Kirchner; model builder: H. Bosma (2nd half of the 20th century)

LE SOLEIL ROYAL, circa 1690

The first thing you notice about this ship model is the ostentatious design of its stern – a typical feature of royal ships from the baroque era.

The SOLEIL ROYAL (French: Royal Sun) went into service around 1690. It was one of The Sun King Louis XIV’s most magnificent battleships and the model is one of the objects that will be on display from 11 October 2018 until 13 October 2019 in the Deutsches Technikmuseum’s special exhibition "Architectura navalis – Floating Baroque".

Photo: The pediment of the SOLEIL ROYAL shows a sun chariot, driven by Sun King Louis XIV, drawn by four horses.

The pediment of the SOLEIL ROYAL: The Sun King controls the whole world. Please zoom for details of the magnificent stern!

Monumental, floating buildings

The stern of the LE SOLEIL ROYAL has the typical baroque architectural features that are also found in castles and palaces: the division into three levels, a ceremonial balcony and a pediment.

The pediment shows a sun chariot pulled by four horses and driven by the Sun King Louis XIV.
The ship’s iconography alludes to the French monarch's claim to rule not only all four continents known in Europe at the time, but also the still unknown worlds.

During the Baroque era, distinctive prestigious architecture was not in fact limited to fixed buildings on land but could also be found at sea. The great three-masted sailing ships also became objects of prestige expressing power and authority, with the stern area being designed according to the style of building architecture. Thus ships gradually transformed from mere water vessels into monumental, floating buildings.

Graphic: The poster displays an ink drawing of a three-master vessel with hoisted sails on which large blue ink splotches have been added. To the right of the sailing ship the lettering “Architectura navalis” runs vertically from bottom to top.

The exhibition "Architectura navalis"

The central themes include the evolution of ships from functional watercraft to floating architectural expressions of power and authority, the effect of the geometric principles of ship building on architectural elements and the adoption of the decorative motifs of ships by the land-based architecture of the French Rococo. High-quality ship models, ship drawings and architectural fragments will then be presented on 250 square metres.

The exhibition poster shows a graphically reworked drawing of the ROYAL LOUIS from 1667. It was one of the flagships of the French fleet in service in the Mediterranean Sea from 1677 to 1691.
(From: Hayet, Description du vaisseau le Royal Louis, Marseille, 1677
© Bibliothèque Nationale de France / graphic design: A. Seifert)