Johann Liebieg Jr. (1836–1917) was a son of the founder of the famous dynasty of Liberec textile magnates. At the time, the company Johann Liebieg & Co. ranked among the most important and largest wool businesses in the Austrian monarchy. In 1871–1872, Johann Liebieg Jr. had his villa built by Gustav Sachers, a graduate of the Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts and an owner of one of the largest Liberec construction companies. The villa is in the style of the Northern Italian Renaissance villas. Gustav Sachers (1831–1874) was an architect and engineer and he designed and implemented a number of mostly historicist buildings in Liberec and its surrounding area. Among others, in 1864–1868 he built the evangelic church that used to stand on the Českých bratří Square in Liberec. Interestingly enough, the city construction archive conceals Sachers’s unrealized design of Johann Liebieg’s villa dating back to 1863. However, this design counted with a much modest option. The unrealized design would have situated the villa on Jánský kámen, on the lands owned by the Liebieg family, near a children’s shelter and the workers’ dormitory the family had built for their employees. This facility later became a part of the employee residential area (Liebieg town) built in 1906–1929.
For the new opulent villa, a piece of land situated south-east of the city centre in the immediate vicinity of the Liberec castle was selected. At that time, the lot had already been built upon with a Classicist residential two-floor house of Ferdinand Römheld, the pioneer of the manufacture production in Liberec. This building was not torn down but, in contrary, became the core of the villa’s central part, and was extended by three-floor wings. The new arcade square courtyard was closed on the north by the ground-floor Sala terrena opening into the vast park around. Historical documentation and the preserved ancient planting and small garden buildings recall the original rich composition of the park. The main entrance situated in the southern facade led to the hall with a staircase lit from above by a skylight. The ground floor of the south wing housed the gentleman’s room, the library, and the guest room. The other wings contained the facilities of the house, such as the kitchen, laundry, servant room, and a separate gardener’s flat. Social rooms were situated in the west wing. These included the dining room, two salons, a music room, another gentlemen’s room, and the adjacent smoking room, billiards, and gambling rooms. The north wing held other residential, not further specified rooms. The east wing was dedicated to the private part of the villa, housing bedrooms and bathrooms. The vast premises make a uniformly conceived whole, comprising the villa, a gardening hut, a coach house, stables, garden, two terraces with a balustrade, pavilion, a swimming pool with the Neptune’s head, which was incorporated into the staircase ramp with brick pergola and the surrounding wall. Liebieg’s villa is a valuable example of representative historicist architecture of the last third of the 19th century. Due to its dimensions and the layout, this manufacturer’s mansion – reflecting the wealth and taste of its architect - was aptly called the Liebieg Palace (Liebiegs Palais).
Following the death of Johan Liebieg Jr., the villa was handed over to his son Johan Moritz Liebieg and to the children of his daughter Gabriela who was married to the Count Theodor Radecký. However, neither of them wished to live in the villa and instead, rented it for various purposes, e.g. for accommodating the police emergency unit in Liberec. In 1946, the building was nationalized, and has served for exhibition purpose ever since. The Regional Gallery, established by separating the visual arts collection from the North Bohemia Museum, has resided here since 1953.The gallery funds contain, among others, a unique collection of Austrian and German paintings and of French Pre-Impressionism landscape paintings, collected by Johan’s brother Heinrich Liebieg. This collector and art patron bequeathed his collection and foundation to the city of Liberec. The villa of Johan Liebieg Jr. is inscribed on the Central Registry of Cultural Monuments of the Czech Republic under number 27557/5–4145.
Text by: Mgr. Petra Šternová
Text adapted from a book published by the Foibos Publishing House: Pavel Halík (ed.), Slavné vily Libereckého kraje, Praha 2007, s. 20-22.BACK ABOUT THE GALLERY