Thirty design drawings from the archive of architect Pierre Cuypers are on view in the exhibition Interieur & Lifestyle at De Haar at De Haar Castle in Utrecht from 7 September. The exhibition juxtaposes Cuypers’ Gothic style with the fashionable lifestyle of his wealthy clients, Baroness Hélène de Rothschild and Baron Etienne van Zuylen van Nijevelt van de Haar.
The interior of the main hall of De Haar Castle has been returned to its situation around 1900, the period in which Baroness Hélène de Rothschild and Baron Etienne van Zuylen van Nijevelt van de Haar commissioned Cuypers to restore the castle. They had an international lifestyle and moved in the highest circles. The rebuilding of their holiday home, a 900-year-old ruined castle inherited in 1891, took no fewer than twenty years to complete. From around 1900 De Haar Castle was one of the top summer residences for the international beau monde.
Architect Cuypers furnished the Gothic style that was so well suited to the medieval roots of the Van Zuylen van Nijevelt dynasty. Baroness Hélène injected more glamour into the interior, in keeping with the taste of the sophisticated company they kept. Here ‘old money’ and ‘new money’ fused to create a new entity.
The exhibition has been curated by Barbara Laan, architecture historian and writer on historical interiors. She conducted research in the De Haar archive and the architecture archives at Het Nieuwe Instituut and selected several unique, beautifully coloured design drawings from the archives of De Haar and Cuypers. The drawings have never previously been exhibited in situ, amid the interiors they represent. In an accompanying film, interior designer Petra Blaisse presents her vision of the interior of De Haar Castle.