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Henry van de Velde Year in Germany and Belgium: Part One

Honoring the 150th birthday of painter, architect, and designer Henry van de Velde, Google posted a celebratory doodle on April 3, 2013. It was not a global doodle like the glitzy Kiss commemorating Gustav Klimt, displayed around the world in 2012. The pastel tribute to van de Velde could be seen in only a handful of continental markets: Belgium, where he was born in 1863; France, where in 1884 the young painter studied for a few months in Paris with Carolus-Duran and where in 1895 he created three sensational rooms for Siegfried Bing’s new gallery L’Art Nouveau; Austria, where he showed furniture at the Eighth Vienna Secession exhibition in late 1900; Germany, where he lived with his wife and growing family from 1900 until 1917; the Netherlands, where he settled in the 1920s; and Switzerland, where he died in 1957. Google commissioned the Belgian designer’s birthday doodle from a worthy compatriot, the comic book artist François Schuiten. The resulting drawing merits a visit to the internet corporation’s online doodle museum.[1]

Unless otherwise indicated, all works are by Henry van de Velde. Photographs are by the author, except when otherwise labeled.
Fig. 1, Louis Held, Henry van de Velde in his studio in the Kunstgewerbeschule, Weimar, ca. 1908. Photograph, print from glass negative S 2016. ENSAV (Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Visuels) – La Cambre, Fonds Henry van de Velde, Brussels. Courtesy, Royal Museums of Art and History, Cinquantenaire Museum, Brussels.

Baron Schuiten, a bande dessiné (BD) master of visionary narrative, produced an impressive capsule chronology of the many-faceted artist (fig. 1). Focusing on Belgium, Schuiten illustrated different aspects of van de Velde’s long career in each of the six letters of the search engine’s logo. He superimposed Google’s capital “G” within the frame of a Neo-Impressionist masterpiece, Bathing Huts at Blankenberge (1888; Kunsthaus, Zurich), a view of the popular beach on the Belgian coast. Nearly fifty years later van de Velde—working with the Ghent architect August Desmet—would design the North Sea resort’s new railroad station. The first Google “o” is a wallpaper design called “Dahlias” created with his future wife Maria Sèthe. A classic armchair from 1895 supersedes the second “o”; four chairs upholstered with the same William Morris pattern were photographed in the Herbert Esche villa in Chemnitz.[2] The small “g” in the doodle is an architectural plan based on the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in Paris, a building celebrating its hundredth anniversary in 2013.[3] The “l” is an important late work: Ghent University Library’s book tower (Boekentoren, 1933–36). Soon after the library was built, former U.S. President Herbert Hoover praised it lavishly on his European tour in 1938, then erected his own landmark tower in 1941 on the campus of Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. The final “e” in the logo is a tunnel toward which a green steam locomotive hauls a cargo of modern design into the future. In addition to its bold reference to Schuiten’s recent album about the locomotive La Douce (2012), the doodle reminds us that in the 1930s van de Velde produced not only depots, but wagon interiors for the Belgian railways.[4]

Birthday remembrances in 2013 suggest that decades of neglect in van de Velde’s native land may be ending. An online inventory now lists his protected buildings in Belgium. These include the last of his houses, La Nouvelle Maison, built in 1927–28 in Tervuren, where he lived until he went into voluntary exile in Switzerland at age eighty-four; his grave in Tervuren is also a protected monument. The inventory includes the Technical School in Leuven (1937–40) and describes its recent transformation into the municipal library and city archives by the Antwerp architect Georges Baines, who has worked on structures by Le Corbusier, Victor Horta, and others. A thoroughgoing renovation of the Boekentoren in Ghent begun in 2012 is explained in an excellent series of English-subtitled videos.

Equally promising for the threatened van de Velde patrimony in Belgium was an event in Antwerp on April 3, 2013. Along with the birthday ceremony and a musical fanfare, a trio of cultural organizations posted an excellent web exhibition about his only architectural work in the city of his birth: a fountain in Belgian bluestone honoring Peter Benoit. The Flemish composer, a friend of van de Velde’s father, wrote letters of recommendation for the young painter when he left for Paris. The strikingly modern memorial, unveiled on the boulevard in front of the opera for the centenary of the composer’s birth in 1934, disappointed those citizens expecting a traditional statue or bust: its only decoration is a lyre by the sculptor Oscar Jespers. Moreover, the fountain was a plum handed to van de Velde by his friend Camille Huysmans, Antwerp’s socialist mayor, and therefore dubbed by cynics, “Camille’s swimming pool.” Post-war traffic dealt this abstract landmark a nearly mortal blow. After lengthy discussion, it was moved in 1953–54 to the Harmonie Park. There the monument fell into a ruinous state, its empty basin appreciated only by graffiti sprayers or skateboarders.

Several Flemish reporters covering the birthday speeches in Antwerp, all incorporating pleas for conservation of the dry-docked fountain, observed that the Germans seem to esteem van de Velde more than the Belgians. If true, this may be a late echo of an ironic double indemnity. During World War I, the Belgian architect had to resign his official post in Weimar as an enemy alien; he spent 1917–18 in neutral Switzerland. In Belgium, however, he remained tainted by his long residence in Germany. As his wife Maria wrote to a friend in 1922, “We always seem to have the wrong nationality.”[5] After World War II, he faced charges of collaboration with the German occupiers and withdrew again to Switzerland for the last ten years of his life.

The Cinquantenaire Museum in Brussels, the second venue for the splendid retrospective opened by the Klassik Stiftung Weimar in March, is closing the anniversary year with a glorious finale in van de Velde’s homeland. In Germany more than a dozen exhibitions in 2013 displayed the dazzling reach of a man they call the Alleskünstler (the “everything artist”). After abandoning painting in the early 1890s, he produced works ranging from title pages to twenty-story towers, from cufflinks to packet boats. At the same time he was an educator for much of his life, founding two national schools of decorative art, as well as lecturing and publishing to disseminate his ideas. Van de Velde developed networks of fervent and generous supporters, while dodging the rancor of his enemies. To commemorate his accomplishments, Belgium and Germany invested substantial resources during the 150th anniversary of his birth. The earliest exhibitions of 2013 in Bavaria, North Rhine-Westphalia, and especially in Thuringia are described below in the approximate order of opening dates for the various shows.

Der Alles-Könner: Arbeiten von Henry van de Velde aus den Sammlungen des Germanischen Nationalmuseums
Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg
December 6, 2012–April 1, 2013 (extended to September 22, 2013)

Der Alles-Könner: Arbeiten von Henry van de Velde aus den Sammlungen des Germanischen Nationalmuseums.
Petra Krutisch, with an essay by Almuth Klein.
Nuremberg: Germanisches National Museum, 201288 pp.;
100 color illustrations, 55 b&w; illustrated list of works by van de Velde in the museum collection
ISBN 978-3-936688-71-9

Fig. 2, Cover, Um 1900, catalogue of exhibition at Kunstgewerbemuseum, Zurich, 1952. Altered from Henry van de Velde’s Tropon lithograph, Pan 4 (1898), between pages 62–63.

Fig. 3, Cover, Der Alles-Könner, catalogue of exhibition at the Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg, 2012–13.

The exhibition Um 1900 in the summer of 1952, organized in Zurich by the Swiss designer Johannes Itten and the German-Swiss art historian Hans Curjel, revived interest in the art nouveau movement and placed Henry van de Velde at its center (fig. 2).[6] The eighty-nine-year-old artist was living with his oldest daughter Nele in Oberägeri, a village on an Alpine lake near Zug. He remained skeptical about the exhibition, he wrote in his memoirs, even after reading the catalogue. Nevertheless, he agreed to speak at the show in Zurich a few weeks after the opening on June 28. His reluctance to talk about his work vanished, he said, when he sat down at a large oak desk, the focal point of the exhibition. Half a century earlier, he had designed every detail of that desk and supervised its manufacture in the Brussels workshop of his short-lived firm van de Velde & Co. He first showed it as the anchor of his “gentleman’s office” at the Munich Secession in 1899, an ensemble in a fictive room at the exhibition.

Van de Velde did not mention in his memoirs the man who ordered the desk, now usually called the Secession desk (Sezessionsschreibtisch). His client was Ludwig Loeffler (1866–1960), a partner in the Berlin publishing firm Schuster & Loeffler until around 1900.[7] Like van de Velde, Loeffler lived well into his nineties. His desk was a highlight of the Zurich show in 1952, installed beneath Ferdinand Hodler’s Day (second version, 1904–06; Kunsthaus, Zurich).[8] After the exhibition, the Germanisches Nationalmuseum in Nuremberg bought the desk, along with Loeffler’s oak cabinet for prints; the museum acquired the matching armchair in 1958.[9] Other pieces owned by Loeffler entered the collection in 1995: a massive oak bookcase, a leather-upholstered armchair, and two chairs based on a design for Bloemenwerf, van de Velde’s first house in Uccle near Brussels. The Loeffler furniture—along with another print cabinet commissioned by Ludwig Gutbier, proprietor of the Galerie Arnold in Dresden, donated in 1984—formed the core of the Nuremberg museum’s exhibition of its own van de Velde holdings. The show opened in December 2012 and remained on view through most of the anniversary year (fig. 3).

Henry van de Velde at Home
Osthaus Museum Hagen
January 27–April 21, 2013
Curators: Birgit Schulte, Hagen; Anne Van Loo and Régine Carpentier, Brussels

No catalogue

The exhibition in Hagen focused on the four homes van de Velde built to live in with his family. The first, Bloemenwerf (1895–96), was also his first architectural work. The socialist and artistic ideals of William Morris, along with materials collected by Maria Sèthe in 1893 on a journey to England, shaped the van de Velde house in Uccle. Louise Sèthe, Maria’s German-born mother, financed the couple’s new home.[10] Ground had scarcely been broken for Bloemenwerf when Siegfried Bing, the Parisian collector and dealer specializing in Japanese art, arrived at Mme. Sèthe’s.[11] He introduced himself and discussed his plans to present innovative Belgian design in a remodeled gallery at 22 rue de Provence, inviting van de Velde to come to Paris for further consultation. Bing announced an opening date of October 1 in Pan, then delayed it until the day after Christmas, 1895. Although the Belgian artist later admitted he had found it difficult to create an ambiance for imaginary clients, his rooms—a fully furnished smoking room, a “collector’s room,” and a dining room—earned him a great deal of attention, not all of it positive. Some French critics responded at first with distaste or even rage—Auguste Rodin, for example, allegedly called van de Velde a barbarian—but Julius Meier-Graefe promoted Bing’s presentation in Germany.[12] The artist, somewhat disappointed in Paris, returned to Uccle before the end of the year and moved into Bloemenwerf in early 1896.

In the Brussels suburbs, the unusual villa and its interiors attracted both the mockery of passersby and a steady stream of admirers. Drawn by van de Velde’s theoretical writings and exhibitions, artists and art lovers arrived to inspect this earliest built example of what he called the “new style,” a design total or Gesamtkunstwerk. Belgian artists, including Théo van Rysselberghe and George Minne, dropped in regularly, benefiting from their friend’s contacts with German patrons and critics. Julius Meier-Graefe spent several days with the van de Veldes and may have witnessed an unforgettable luncheon visit from Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, whose poster Divan Japonais hung in the studio at Bloemenwerf.[13] Apart from Meier-Graefe, a number of other influential Germans made their way to Uccle, and their patronage would dramatically alter van de Velde’s life. Eberhard von Bodenhausen arrived in May 1897 to invite van de Velde to produce packaging for his new protein supplement Tropon.[14] Harry Graf Kessler paid his first visit to Uccle at the end of October 1897, but found only Maria and her baby daughter Nele at home; van de Velde was in Berlin. Count Kessler met him there in November and returned to Uccle in March 1898 to commission the interior design of his Berlin apartment.[15]

Fig. 4, Osthaus Museum, Hagen, Great hall, Paul Kußmann, marble replica of George Minne, Fountain with Kneeling Youths 1973–74. Original (1905–06) in Museum Folkwang, Essen.

Fig. 5, Osthaus Museum, Hagen, Main stairway (1901–02), restored.

Fig. 6, Osthaus Museum, Hagen, Exhibition entrance, Henry van de Velde at Home.

Another wealthy young German arrived on May 1, 1900, with the even more tempting offer of an important public space. Karl Ernst Osthaus (1874–1921) wanted to give Hagen, his Westphalian hometown, a museum. The roof was already on the new building, constructed in neo-Renaissance style by the Berlin architect Carl Gérard. Apparently convinced by an article by Meier-Graefe in the October 1898 supplementary issue of Dekorative Kunst, Osthaus chose van de Velde to complete the interior. The Belgian’s new client had planned his museum for natural history objects and travel souvenirs, but after a tour of Bloemenwerf, he became a fanatical proponent of modern art. Van de Velde showed him van Gogh’s Fields with Poppies, a drawing he had bought during his honeymoon in Holland from Johanna Bonger, widow of Theo van Gogh.[16] Osthaus purchased La Moisson (1889; Museum Folkwang, Essen) from her in 1902, the year his museum opened. He later acquired more van Gogh paintings, among them First Steps, after Millet (1890; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York), which hung in the Hagen museum until financial straits forced Osthaus to let Paul Cassirer sell it at auction in 1917.[17]

As a patron, Osthaus was also generous to van de Velde’s friends. He commissioned the first marble of Minne’s Fountain with Kneeling Youths (1905–06; Museum Folkwang, Essen); a plaster had been exhibited in the Vienna Secession in 1900. Minne’s circle of five youths in the columned entrance hall replaced a reduced cast of Constantin Meunier’s Horse at the Pond (1899); the Minne group soon became a symbol of the Folkwang Museum.[18] The fountain was so perfect for the space that the museum ordered a marble copy to replace the original sold with other Hagen works to an art lovers’ association in the city of Essen after the collector’s death from tuberculosis in 1921 (fig. 4). The Osthaus collection then merged with the municipal museum in Essen, under the name Museum Folkwang. Invoked by Osthaus, Folkwang, abode of the goddess Freya, descended from the Old Norse Edda to industrial Hagen and thence to Essen, less than an hour to the west. Inscribed on walls and fluttering on banners, the name perpetuates the Osthaus ideal of art for the people; his principle now thrives in Essen’s new museum structure by David Chipperfield (2010).[19]

Fig. 7, At Home, installation view: Left wall, Louis Held, Haus Hohe Pappeln. Photographs, eight prints from glass negatives. ENSAV (Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Visuels) – La Cambre, Fonds Henry van de Velde, Brussels. In vitrine: Burkhard Bergius, Dortmund, Model, Haus Hohe Pappeln (1907–08), 1992. Osthaus Museum, Hagen.

Fig. 8, At Home, installation view: In vitrine, Burkhard Bergius, Dortmund, Model, Bloemenwerf (1895), 1992. Osthaus Museum, Hagen.

Fig. 9, At Home, installation view, detail: Louis Held, Henry van de Velde in Apartment at Cranachstraße 11, Weimar, ca. 1903. Photograph, print from glass negative S 2280. ENSAV (Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Visuels) – La Cambre, Fonds Henry van de Velde, Brussels.

Fig. 10, At Home, installation view, detail: Louis Held, Dining Room at Lassenstraße 29 with Bloemenwerf Furniture, ca. 1906. Photograph, print from glass negative S 2202. ENSAV (Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Visuels) – La Cambre, Fonds Henry van de Velde, Brussels.

Fig. 11, Louis Held, Haus Hohe Pappeln, Belvederer allee 28, Weimar, ca. 1908. Photograph, print from glass negative S 2028. ENSAV (Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Visuels) – La Cambre, Fonds Henry van de Velde, Brussels. Courtesy, Osthaus Museum, Hagen.

Fig. 12, At Home, installation view, second room: Right wall, unattributed photographic prints of third van de Velde house, De Tent (1921–22), Jagerslaan 3, Wassenaar, Netherlands, ca. 1925 (dismantled). ENSAV (Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Visuels) – La Cambre, Fonds Henry van de Velde, Brussels. Alcove left rear, “Familie Osthaus at Home.”

Fig. 13, At Home, installation view, second room: Vitrine with ceramics by Henry van de Velde, ca. 1902, Osthaus Museum, Hagen.

Fig. 14, Hohenhof (1906–08), garden side. Stirnband 10, Hagen.

Fig. 15, Hohenhof, exterior, dining room windows with monogram of Karl Ernst Osthaus in wrought iron.

Fig. 16, Hohenhof, dining room.

Fig. 17, Hohenhof, dining room, sliding door fixture.

The museum in Hagen, renamed Osthaus Museum Hagen in 2009, is pleasantly haunted by the spirits of the passionate philanthropist, his wife Gertrud, and van de Velde himself. The interior, although partly restored, bears the indelible mark of the designer (fig. 5). Visitors today can imagine Gertrud Osthaus and Maria Sèthe (enter 44 in search box when link opens) at the gala museum opening in July 1902, both wearing van de Velde dresses and ornaments; the collector’s wife vetoed the designer’s proposal that they dress identically. Henry van de Velde at Home, the anniversary-year exhibition in Hagen, was on view in 2011 in Brussels under the same title, organized by the Fonds van de Velde in conjunction with the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Visuels (ENSAV)—La Cambre (fig. 6).[20] Of the 660 glass negatives in the archive, recently restored and digitized through a grant from InBev-Baillet Latour Fund, a few were printed in large format for the exhibition in 2011 at La Cambre. The Hagen curator Birgit Schulte expanded the earlier show with objects from her museum and from the collections of the Henry van de Velde-Gesellschaft Hagen and the Hohenhof “Museum des Hagener Impuls.”

Drawn by these original photographic sources, visitors entering the Hagen exhibition could enjoy the details of a dozen razor-sharp, large-scale prints of the Weimar period on the walls (fig. 7). Van de Velde’s first house in Belgium was represented by three small, interior photographs in a single frame, a wall text with a plan and a recent color photograph of the exterior, a scale model, and a single “Bloemenwerf” cane-seated chair with its distinguishing “V” back (fig. 8). After only four years in the Uccle house, the van de Veldes left for Berlin in the autumn of 1900 with their daughters Nele, age three, and the one-year-old Hélène (Lene).[21] They occupied temporary quarters in the German capital, living in an apartment lent by Bodenhausen. Invited to take up a court appointment in Weimar, the designer began his duties in April 1902, three months before the Museum Folkwang opened in Hagen.

The previous year, the twenty-six-year-old Wilhelm Ernst had succeeded his grandfather as Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach. Thanks to the endorsement of Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche, who would ask van de Velde to renovate the ground floor of her brother’s archives in Weimar, and the relentless lobbying by Count Kessler, the new Grand Duke appointed van de Velde as his advisor on industrial and applied arts.[22] The Belgian family—with their two older daughters and the infant Anne, born in Berlin in December 1901—rented an apartment at Cranachstraße 11 (now 23) from1902 to 1906.[23] Seeking more room after the birth of twins—Thyl and Thylla—on March 13, 1904, the van de Veldes moved in 1906 to a tall, unprepossessing apartment building on Lassenstraße 29 (now Triererstraße 71).

Photographs in the Hagen exhibition taken by the brilliant Weimar court photographer Louis Held (1851–1927) were artfully styled by van de Velde to underscore the visual harmony of his surroundings; they also show the Bloemenwerf furniture wedged into the rented space in Weimar (fig. 9). Constantin Meunier’s bronze portrait of van de Velde (1899) is on the stand to the right of the curtained door. Looking through the door into the adjoining room, the right half of Georges Seurat’s Sunday in Port-en-Bessin (1888; Rijksmuseum Kröller-Müller, Otterlo) can be identified hanging over the sofa.[24] In Held’s photograph of the Weimar dining room there are a dozen V-back chairs made for the house in Uccle (fig. 10). On the elmwood table (Henry van de Velde Bequest, Museum für Gestaltung, Zürich) in the photograph is one of their innovative checked table coverings, already in use in Bloemenwerf; four narrow strips like elongated placemats surround a central heat-proof brass panel, lined with Alexandre Bigot tiles and ready for hot serving dishes. A similar table in cedar on display at Bing’s Paris gallery convinced one sympathetic critic through its sheer practicality. Held’s photograph of the Weimar dining room also reveals the prominent place awarded to van Gogh’s reed-pen drawing Fields with Poppies bought from the painter’s sister-in-law in 1894; it hangs in the far right corner, to the left of the white door. Over the buffet was a Paul Signac painting, Saint-Tropez, the Town and the Pines (1902; private collection), received by van de Velde in an exchange with the French artist.[25] The Held photographs suggest that the family of seven needed more room. Despite uncertainty about his future in the Grand Duchy, the architect decided in 1907 to build his second home, Haus Hohe Pappeln, in Weimar-Ehringsdorf [26] He moved his family into the idyllic country house early in 1908 (fig. 11).

With the outbreak of World War I at the end of July 1914, van de Velde became an enemy alien. His arts and crafts school closed at the end of September 1915, and in April 1917 he finally received permission to leave the country. His daughter Nele was eventually also given an exit permit to join her father in Switzerland, but Maria and the other children had to sit out the war in Germany. Late in 1919, the Dutch-German couple Anton Kröller and his German wife Helene Kröller-Müller came to his rescue. Having run through a string of prominent architects including Peter Behrens, Mies van de Rohe, and Hendrik Petrus Berlage, they gave van de Velde a two-year contract and an ample annual salary to build their house and a museum for their collection of modern art. With their promise of support, van de Velde ordered the largest model of prefabricated house from the specialist firm Christophe & Unmarck in Oberlausitz. After modifying the model to his taste, he erected it in 1921–22 at Jagerslaan 3 in Wassenaar, now a wealthy suburb of The Hague. Reflecting his reduced expectations for anything but a nomadic life, he named his third home, “De Tent” (fig. 12).

In the second room of the Hagen exhibition, large photographs of De Tent hung next to a few views of his fourth and last house, “La Nouvelle Maison.” The Kröller-Müllers ran out of money, and museum construction stopped in 1925 (fig. 13). Camille Huysmans, as Belgian minister of education, persuaded King Albert I to summon van de Velde to Brussels. Despite attacks in the press and political opposition to appointing a man who had lived for seventeen years in Germany, he was allowed to establish a national school of arts and crafts (Institut supérieur des Arts décoratifs) in the neglected abbey of La Cambre. He also accepted a professorship at the University of Ghent in the history of architecture and the decorative arts. He set to work on La Nouvelle Maison in Tervuren, moving in with his wife and Nele in 1928. Maria died in 1943, and in 1947, van de Velde and his daughter, despite the plea of Queen Mother Elisabeth, left Belgium once again, for good.

The Hagen exhibition closed with a section entitled “Familie Osthaus at Home,” an alcove of plans, photographs, and a model of the villa that Osthaus commissioned from van de Velde in 1906: Hohenhof (fig. 14). One of the largest houses van de Velde ever built, it was part of a complex city planning scheme devised by Osthaus to share his love of beauty with his fellow citizens.[27] Osthaus was particularly pleased with his villa’s wall-like base in blue-gray limestone, quarried nearby. He extolled the windows framed in Niedermenger basalt-lava and the slate roof; the building materials seemed to speak both a local and an ancient dialect. Inside, grandeur co-exists with practicality, and the stamps of both the architect and of one of his most fascinating patrons are omnipresent (fig. 15).[28] In the dining room, for example, the hardware for the sliding door from the dining room to the passage suggests that no detail escaped van de Velde’s notice. On the outer side of the door to the passage the fixture was executed in brass, but within the room he insisted on a silvery alloy to match his hanging lamp over the table and his elegant Osthaus silverware (figs. 16, 17).

The rich photographic documentation lent by Brussels on the self-taught architect van de Velde’s four dwellings was a useful way to launch this anniversary year. The Hagen exhibition offered a relatively simple point of entry into a long and complex creative life, as well as the short, but equally committed life of his patron. Glimpses of Osthaus in the show, in his progressive museum, and in Hohenhof itself, along with the many buildings his diverse architects left in Hagen, provided a context for van de Velde’s work in a city that no one had heard of until it suddenly became a center of modern art.

Der ewige Wanderer, Henry van de Velde in Jena: Gemälde, Plastiken, Zeichnungen, Druckgraphik, Entwürfe und Bücher
Städtische Museen, Kunstsammlung Jena
March 10–May 26, 2013
Curators: Manuela Dix and Erik Stephan

Der ewige Wanderer, Henry van de Velde in Jena: Gemälde, Plastiken, Zeichnungen, Druckgraphik, Entwürfe und Bücher.
Edited by Manuela Dix and Erik Stephan. Essays by Dix, Stephan, Conny Dietrich, Birgitt Hellmann, Antje Neumann, Lucius Grisebach.
Jena: Städtische Museen, 2013.
238 pp.; 179 color illustrations, 55 b&w; illustrated chronology; list of exhibited works
ISBN 978-3-942176-72-9

Fig. 18, Cover, catalogue of exhibition at the Kunstsammlung Jena: Der Ewige Wanderer: Henry van de Velde in Jena, 2013.

Fig. 19, Cover, Volker Wahl, Jena als Kunststadt, 1900–1933 (Leipzig: Seemann, 1988). Design based on poster by August Macke for his exhibition at Kunstverein Jena, May 24–June 17, 1914.

Fig. 20, Exhibition poster: Henry van de Velde in Jena, Kunstsammlung Jena, 2013.

As the Hagen exhibition showed, van de Velde changed homes repeatedly. He also re-launched himself multiple times, when approaching creative dead ends or, more often, facing acute financial need. Manuela Dix, curator of the show in Jena, installed a striking series of rooms and produced a stunning catalogue to tell the story of van de Velde in the old university town on the Saale (fig. 18). An indispensable book by Volker Wahl in 1988 established the framework for studying the atmosphere and achievements in Jena during the years after 1902, when the Belgian arrived with high hopes for introducing craftsmen throughout the Grand Duchy to his Neuer Stil (fig. 19). The anniversary year 2013 offered a chance to look at Jena from van de Velde’s point of view, to meet the new cast of characters he encountered there, and to search for his traces in the city.

Not every project could be accomplished and, even in the technological paradise of Carl Zeiss, Ernst Abbe, and Otto Schott, architects had to pitch their schemes to skeptical committees. Two successive plans for a van de Velde swimming pool were rejected outright in Jena, but he did erect a monument to Ernst Abbe. It survives, overshadowed in the tourist’s memory, perhaps, by the shiny Jentower (1972), a late work by the DDR architect Hermann Henselmann. Jena, now less than fifteen minutes by train from Weimar, nevertheless offered van de Velde contacts with a broader circle of art lovers and an intellectual climate more open than the toxic pressures and intrigues emanating from the Grand Ducal residence would allow. Curator Dix entitled her introductory catalogue essay, “Meine Jenaer Freunde,” a quotation from a passage in van de Velde’s memoirs about his support from friends in Jena (9-19). Writing in Swiss exile after 1947, he recalls the intervention on his behalf in 1914 of Otto Binswanger, director of the Jena mental asylum and—from 1882 until his retirement in 1919—professor of psychiatry at the university (18).[29] When the Grand Duke threatened van de Velde with imprisonment after World War I broke out, Dr. Binswanger took responsibility for him as a patient and prescribed a rest cure at the private clinic of Oskar Kohnstamm in Königstein im Taunus, near Frankfurt. Two years later Dr. Kohnstamm would treat Ernst Ludwig Kirchner—not very successfully, it turned out.

Kirchner’s epithet for van de Velde in his letters—“You eternal wanderer”—inspired the title for the 2013 exhibition, where eighteen Kirchner prints, two drawings, a watercolor, and three paintings were on view. From the Kunstsammlung Jena’s own holdings came Kirchner’s oil portrait of the philosopher Eberhard Grisebach, a leader of the Kunstverein; in early 1914 he had organized the association’s first solo show for the painter. Examples of the two rare woodcut portrait heads of Henry van de Velde hung in Der ewige Wanderer and formed an emphatic double spread in the exhibition catalogue, a book beautifully designed by Bernd Adam. The Kornfeld Collection, Bollingen, lent an impression of the light version, and the dark version from the Kirchner Museum Davos was also used for the poster (fig. 20). Kirchner, the architect turned painter, and van de Velde, the painter turned architect, had both established strong friendships in Jena, but they didn’t actually meet until June 27, 1917, in Davos, Switzerland.[30]

After arriving from Germany and settling in Bern, van de Velde managed to persuade the fragile Kirchner to seek treatment at Bellevue, the upscale clinic in Kreuzlingen run by Ludwig Binswanger, nephew of the Jena professor; Van de Velde had been treated there for depression himself from May through August 1909. Kirchner would remain in the Swiss sanatorium on Lake Constance for nearly a year, from 15 September until the following July. The Belgian also hoped to console Kirchner over the death in April of their friend Botho Graef.[31] Graef, seen in several works in the exhibition, had taught classical archaeology at Jena since 1904. He became a forceful motor of the Kunstverein Jena and a parallel organization, the Gesellschaft der Kunstfreunde in Jena und Weimar, vigorously promoting Emil Nolde and Kirchner. Kirchner first met Grisebach and Graef when he came to Jena for his exhibition in February 1914; Graef gave the introductory lecture at the opening. As a monument to his friend, Kirchner established in May 1918 the Botho Graef-Stiftung with the donation of 260 of his own graphic works.[32]

Fig. 21, In Jena, installation view: Georg Kolbe, Henry van de Velde, 1913. Bronze. Skulpturensammlung, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Dresden.

Fig. 22, In Jena, installation view: Left in vitrine, Max Klinger, Cast after Death Mask of Friedrich Nietzsche, 1900. Bronze. Museum der Bildenden Künste, Leipzig. Right wall, Max Klinger, On Death, Part Two, Opus XIII, 1898–1910. Etchings, engravings, and aquatints. Suermondt Ludwig Museum, Aachen.

In Jena, as in Hagen, a cast of George Kolbe’s bronze head of van de Velde stood next to the exhibition’s biographical wall text (fig. 21). A century earlier, Karl Ernst Osthaus had commissioned the portrait in honor of the architect’s fiftieth birthday. The bronze was first shown in the German section of the world’s fair in Ghent in 1913; Osthaus used it as a frontispiece for his book in 1920. In one room of the Jena show, the visitor could reflect on Nietzsche and Schopenhauer and inspect at eye level the twelve intaglio prints of Max Klinger’s cycle On Death, Part Two, Opus XIII, or, more prosaically, bend over a vitrine to study the artist’s contract signed in 1910 for the marble herm in the Ernst Abbe monument (fig. 22).[33] The adjacent gallery was devoted to the Swiss painter Ferdinand Hodler. Particularly interesting was Student from Jena (1908; Kunstmuseum Solothurn, Joseph Müller-Stiftung), a study for The German Students’ Departure to the Freedom War of 1813 (132–3). The Gesellschaft der Kunstfreunde (van der Velde and Kessler were founding members from Weimar) collected funds for the large wall painting as a gift to decorate the new university building by Theodor Fischer. Presented to the rector in a ceremony on November 14, 1909, the painting provoked years of controversy, despite Botho Graef’s public explanations and his small book on the merits of the picture.[34]

The Jena exhibition documented on a single wall an earlier controversy, one with serious repercussions for van de Velde. Having succeeded in installing his Belgian friend in Weimar as artistic advisor, Kessler arrived himself in the winter of 1902–03 to assume what amounted to a directorship—his enemies might have considered it a hostile takeover—of a collection called the Permanente Kunstausstellung, managed by a private association. Housed since 1880 in a former brick factory on the Karlsplatz (now the Goetheplatz) embellished around 1890 with spolia from a Venetian palace, the institution and its building were renamed in March 1903 the Großherzogliche Museum für Kunst und Kunstgewerbe (Grand Ducal Museum for Art and Applied Arts), with Kessler as unpaid chairman of its governing committee.[35] His impressive series of exhibitions began with a Klinger show on June 24, 1903. From November until February 1904, van de Velde’s 335-piece table silver for the wedding of the Grand Duke was on exhibit in the museum, along with a range of decorative objects and photographs of van de Velde interiors. Manet, Monet, Renoir, Cézanne followed in March, and on July 6 an exhibition of Auguste Rodin opened, with sixteen sculptures and thirty-three drawings. The show, which ran through mid-August, aroused the interest of the Gesellschaft der Kunstfreunde and its prominent academic members in Jena, including the dean of the philosophy faculty Rudolf Eucken, who would win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1908.

Even Kessler may have been somewhat surprised by Eucken’s request that he contact Rodin in Paris to assure the Jena committee that the sculptor would accept the award of an honorary doctorate. Rodin accepted with gratitude, but did not attend the ceremony on May 9, 1905. In Paris later that month, Kessler visited the sculptor at Meudon. Taking literally the Grand Duke’s role as nominal head of the university and believing that Kessler had arranged his diploma award, Rodin invited him to choose some watercolors of nudes to present to his ruler. Allegedly unable to locate the group of drawings Kessler had selected, Rodin then sent him fourteen watercolors of nudes, one of which he inscribed, “Hommages respectueux de Auguste Rodin au Grand Duc de Weimar.” Kessler’s exhibition of the fourteen nudes opened on January 6, 1906, and the scandal instigated by his adversaries, based on what they saw as an insulting inscription, cost him his job. He submitted his resignation in July, and the Grand Duke accepted it within days. That same month in Jena the Kunstverein displayed the cast of Minerva received from Paris in June by the university as a gift for the new building; with the crate was a letter of thanks signed, Auguste Rodin Doctor Philosophiae Honoris Causa.[36]

Fig. 23, In Jena, installation view: Auguste Rodin, Thirteen pencil drawings with watercolor, c. 1900. Klassik Stiftung Weimar, Kunstsammlungen zu Weimar, Weimar.

Fig. 24, In Jena, installation view: Max Klinger, Bust of Elsa Asenijeff, 1899–1900 (posthumous cast from 1990). Bronze. Museum der bildenden Künste, Leipzig. Wall, left to right, Emil Nolde, Flower Garden with Farmwoman Sewing and House in the Woods. Both 1908, oil on canvas. Stiftung Seebull, Ada and Emil Nolde.

Fig. 25, In Jena, installation view: Foreground bronzes, Constantin Meunier, left, The Stonebreaker, 1900, Deutsches Bergbaumuseum Bochum; right, Le Portefaix, 1889. Museum Folkwang, Essen. Middle bronze, Max Klinger, Athlete, 1891 (1901 cast). Museum der Bildenden Künste, Leipzig. Max Klinger, Franz Liszt, 1904. Marble. Hochschule für Musik und Theater Felix Mendelsohn-Bartholdy, Leipzig.

Fig. 26, In Jena, installation view: Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Portrait Nele van de Velde, 1921. Lithographs. Five of eleven known impressions. Ernst Ludwig Kirchner Archive, Wichtrach (Bern).

Fig. 27, In Jena, installation view: Nele van de Velde, A Day with Kirchner on the Stafelalp, c. 1920. Eleven woodcuts, published in Genius, Zeitschrift für werdende und alte Kunst (Munich: Kurt Wolff Verlag, 1921), 282–92. Kornfeld Collection, Bollingen.

Fig. 28, In Jena, installation view: Edvard Munch, Van de Velde’s Children [Thyl and Thylla, born March 1904], 1906. Lithograph. Formerly in van de Velde collection, Museum der Bildenden Künste, Leipzig.

Fig. 29, Henry van de Velde, Max Klinger, Constantin Meunier, Ernst Abbe Monument, 1909–11. Carl-Zeißplatz, Jena. Photo, Jens Hauspurg, © Thuringer Tourismus.

Thirteen Rodin watercolors, described as “gutter art” in a report from a Prussian diplomat to Kaiser Wilhelm II on February 22, 1906, hung in the 2013 van de Velde show in Jena (fig. 23). Thirteen? Not fourteen? Thomas Föhl notes that the sheet with the dedication to the Grand Duke, hastily masked with a passe-partout in 1906, has disappeared from the collections of the Klassik Stiftung Weimar.[37] Opposite the Rodin wall in the Jena exhibition was an uncontroversial vitrine displaying a coffee and tea service designed by van de Velde and produced in 1913–14 by the Burgau porcelain factory; Birgitt Hellmann and Antje Neumann discuss in brief catalogue essays van de Velde’s collaboration with Ferdinand Selle (1862–1915) in Burgau, his inspection tours of Thuringian workshops, and his later connections with other porcelain producing centers (45–53).

In an adjoining room were works by Emil Nolde and a bust by Max Klinger of his then companion, the writer Elsa Asenijeff (pseudonym for Elsa von Packeny), more familiar in the polychrome half-length figure in the Neue Pinakothek, Munich (fig. 24). Klinger’s early ten-print intaglio cycle The Glove, Opus VI, led the viewer into a large gallery devoted to sculpture and to five outstanding architectural drawings for the Ernst Abbe monument from the van de Velde archive (1910; ENSAV—La Cambre, Brussels). Complementing a choice selection of works by Meunier, Klinger’s marble bust of Franz Liszt stood out among the bronzes and plasters in this compelling installation (fig. 25). Upstairs in the museum, the exhibition continued with a substantial section on Kirchner and many works by one of his only students, van de Velde’s oldest daughter Nele. Lucius Grisebach quotes Eberhard W. Kornfeld on the young woman’s first meeting with the painter at the Bellevue clinic in 1918; a beautiful oil portrait of Nele (Collection of Catherine Woodard and Nelson Blitz, Jr., New York) illustrates Grisebach’s evocative catalogue essay (58–9).[38] The 2013 show presented Kirchner’s portraits of Nele near the touchingly small body of her own work (fig. 26). The display included the woodblock for her untitled print showing Kirchner reading and her eleven woodcuts from around 1920 for the series A Day with Kirchner on the Stafelalp; the catalogue, with its high-quality illustrations, preserves the impact of this thoughtful arrangement (fig. 27). While her mother, unable to leave Weimar, worried that Nele smoked too much, Kirchner accepted the talented and troubled girl as she was, creating the unforgettable woodcut portrait, Young Woman with a Cigarette (1918). For Nele, herself an intermittent patient, Bellevue was a welcoming home. After her father’s death, she continued to live in their cottage in the Swiss Alps, the only one of his four daughters to survive him.

Like Kirchner, Edvard Munch had connections with Jena. He had visited Weimar for the first time briefly in 1904 to paint a portrait of Kessler. He returned in late October 1905, after spending several hectic weeks in Chemnitz painting the Herbert Esche family; as architect of their new villa, van de Velde had suggested Munch to his patrons. The Norwegian artist’s purpose in Weimar was to paint a posthumous portrait of Nietzsche commissioned by Ernest Thiel in Stockholm. He claimed he was not up to the challenge, and at lunch with the van de Veldes on October 29, Maria Sèthe, supported by Hanni Esche, urged the chronically drunken and despondent painter to take a cure at Elgersburg in the Thuringian forest. Before he left for his cure, he thought of accepting the invitation of Nietzsche’s sister to attend a lecture on November 5 by Botho Graef, whom he remembered vaguely from Berlin, then begged off because of his nerves. Somehow he did meet Graef—the archaeologist visited him at the Oberhof ski resort near Elgersburg in January 1906—as well as other art lovers from Jena; the theoretical physicist Felix Auerbach, for example, commissioned a portrait.[39]

Munch’s cure had immediate benefits, and by February 1906 he was able to finish his Nietzsche portrait and to show Felix Auerbach at the Jena Kunstverein from March 7–18, along with three landscapes from Elgersburg. Sometime that winter Munch depicted the only van de Velde son, Thyl, with Thylla, his twin sister. The rare lithograph, showing the children in front of a typical van de Velde armchair, was printed at the Weimar Kunstschule, and on March 25, 1906, Munch wrote a polite and coherent note to Maria van de Velde to say he was happy she liked his portrait of the twins (fig. 28). In Weimar that summer, Munch painted in three days (July 9–11) a portrait masterpiece of the early twentieth century: Count Harry Kessler (Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin). Munch’s model had just submitted his resignation to the Grand Duke. The elegant, relaxed image with straw hat and cane must have pleased the count, for he allowed Munch to send the picture to Paul Cassirer’s gallery in Berlin as one of nearly thirty paintings by Munch in the winter group exhibition, the first time it was shown in public.[40] Before his resignation, Kessler had planned a Munch retrospective for his museum, and his successor, Karl Koetschau, was able to mount the show in November 1906, soon after it closed at the Museum Folkwang in Hagen. Because the Osthaus museum was private, the presentation in Weimar on the Karlsplatz in the Großherzogliches Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe counts as Munch’s first exhibition in a public museum and an opportunity for the artist’s friends in Thuringia to see twenty-eight of his paintings.

Visitors in 2013 exiting the show at the Kunstsammlung Jena could walk to the Volkshaus, a project of the physicist and social reformer Ernst Abbe (1840–1905) and the scene of many progressive Kunstverein exhibitions. Nearby stands the limestone temple van de Velde built to honor Abbe soon after his death (fig. 29). The structure has suffered, and there are now barriers to fend off vandals. Klinger’s portrait herm and the posthumous bronze casts from Meunier’s marble reliefs (also posthumous) on the Monument to Work in Brussels can better be seen in the excellent photographs illustrating the catalogue essays by Erik Stephan and Conny Dietrich or the fragments at the Musée d’Orsay. The Abbe monument, Dietrich rightly insists, can hardly be considered a Gesamtkunstwerk; it is a curious sum of individual contributions. Meunier died a few months after Abbe, and the other two artists did not work together until the last days of the installation. When the monument was unveiled on Saturday, July 30, 1911, Klinger and van de Velde paraded through the inner city and dined outdoors on long tables set up on the Marktplatz. Kessler was there and left a description of the summer evening in his diary: “the fat Asenijeff” (Klinger’s muse) never budged from her chair, the red-faced Klinger hunched over his drinks while schoolchildren with lanterns marched through the crowds. The Kunstsammlung Jena, venue for The Eternal Wanderer in 2013, is also on the Marktplatz. Thanks to the efforts and subtle choices of Dix, Stephan and their team, exhibition-goers leaving the show crossed that square with indelible impressions of van de Velde’s Jena.

Fig. 30, Henry van de Velde, Haus Schulenburg, Gera, 1913–14. Photo, Jens Hauspurg, © Thuringer Tourismus.

Fig. 31, Haus Schulenburg, Gera. Fireplace in restored central hall seen from upstairs gallery.

Fig. 32, Haus Schulenburg, Gera. Upstairs study, book exhibition.

Fig. 33, Haus Schulenburg, Gera. Book exhibition, above, cover for Dominical by Max Elskamp (1892); below, cover of Van Nu en Straks, No. 6-7 (1893); upper right, first edition of Déblaiement d’Art (1894).

Fig. 34, Haus Schulenburg, Gera. Book exhibition, Tropon product wrapping paper; L‘Art Decoratif, No. 1 (October 1898), entire issue on Henry van de Velde, edited by Julius Meier-Graefe.

Fig. 35, Haus Schulenburg, Gera. Book exhibition, left, exhibition catalogue Nouvelle Galerie Dietrich, Brussels, April 8–May 8, 1933; right, Henry van de Velde Entretient ses Collègues de l’Académie Ed. Picard de la Formation Poétique de Max Elskamp, lecture to the Académie Royale de Langue et de Littérature Françaises de Belgique, June 15, 1933. Inscribed to Georges Marlow.

Fig. 36, Haus Schulenburg, Gera. Book exhibition, Belgian Pavilion, Official Guide Book, New York World’s Fair, 1939–40.

Henry van de Velde – Buchgestaltungen, Publikationen, Entwürfe, Möbel
January 2–December 22, 2013
Haus Schulenburg – Gesamtkunstwerk von Henry van de Velde, Baugeschichte, Rekonstruktion
March 17–December 22, 2013

Henry van de Velde in seinem künstlerischen Umfeld
April 17–December 22, 2013
Haus Schulenburg, Gera

No catalogue

Exhibitions on van de Velde mounted in one of his buildings have a clear advantage. No modern mise-en-scène can compete with the master designer. Starting with the Bing show in Paris in 1895, through the Munich Secession in 1899, the Museum Folkwang in Hagen in 1902, and the constructed museum hall in 1906 at the Third Dresden Arts and Crafts Exhibition (enter Hofmann in search box when link opens; the wall paintings there were by Ludwig von Hofmann of the Weimar Kunstschule and the amazing brass light fixtures manufactured by a Thuringian craftsmen from Berka an der Ilm), van de Velde knowingly displayed his furniture, lamps, vases, woodwork, and wallpaper—even his art collection—to the best advantage. He lived, so to speak, in his own showroom at Bloemenwerf and in his Weimar dwellings, encouraging his wife and his admiring patrons to clothe themselves in harmony with the environments he created for them. The match between ambiance and artifact sustained the anniversary presentations at Haus Schulenburg (fig. 30).

At the Dresden exhibition in 1906 (Dritte Deutsche Kunstgewerbe-Ausstellung), Paul Schulenburg, a St. Louis-born textile manufacturer in Gera, could not resist a van de Velde dining room (enter 120 in search box when link opens). Seven years later, he asked the architect to construct a villa, inside and out, as well as a garden; Schulenburg was an avid orchid grower. When he died in 1937, much of the garden was parceled out and sold. The central hall, the focus of van de Velde’s plan, was mutilated when the stairway (enter 122 in search box when link opens) was torn down to divide the building into apartments (fig. 31). After 1947 the building became a medical school and the interior was further altered. The house had been empty for six years when Volker Kielstein, a medical doctor who had grown up near the house in Gera, bought the ruined property in December 1996.

Kielstein, fascinated since his childhood with the building and with the photographs he had seen in his father’s copy of the Karl Ernst Osthaus book on van de Velde, began a painstaking restoration of Haus Schulenburg. He and his wife Rita, a professor of medicine in Magdeburg, tracked down the furniture and decorations, collecting at the same time books written or designed by van de Velde and assembling a library of materials about the architect. For a long-term display in the house, the books and periodicals have been installed in vitrines in and near Schulenburg’s restored study (fig. 32). There, and throughout the house, photographs document the past and efforts to return the rooms to their original condition. The arrangement of printed works began with the first Belgian period (1892–99); the collection includes path-breaking covers for his friend Max Elskamp’s Dominical and for the Flemish journal Van Nu en Straks (fig. 33). Next to them was the rare first edition of his theoretical work Déblaiement d’art published in 1894. Van de Velde’s designs for Tropon products and an example of the first issue of L’Art décoratif (1898) were displayed with other early journals (fig. 34). Among the relics of the artist’s seventeen years in Germany were several Nietzsche volumes. One of the later objects (1923–1942) was the memorial lecture on Elskamp from 1933, inscribed with a dedication to Georges Marlow, the poet who was elected to replace Elskamp in the Belgian Royal Academy of French Language and Literature (fig. 35). On display with the books about van de Velde was a guidebook to his Belgian Pavilion at the New York World’s Fair of 1939–40 (fig. 36). After the fair closed, the Belgian government donated the pavilion with its dramatic bell tower to Virginia Union University, a private, then all-black college in Richmond, Virginia.[41]

Vitrines in library exhibitions sometimes emit a lugubrious feeling, like Snow White’s glass coffin. This does not happen in Haus Schulenburg. In a room van de Velde flooded with light some twenty years after producing the earliest printed works in the Gera show, his books are alive. The repetitive curving lines of the abstract landscape on the cover of Dominical seem to vibrate still with the stroke of his tool; the end-grain block is preserved in the Antwerp print cabinet. Within oddly tidy quotation marks, the energetic letters of the title Van Nu en Straks (Of Now and Later), surf on a wave, then escape their frame to arrange themselves on the laid paper below. In the presence of these vigorous traces of the thirty-year-old van de Velde, the visitor recalls how busy he was and for how many decades.

Leidenschaft, Funktion und Schönheit: Henry van de Velde und sein Beitrag zur europäische Moderne
Klassik Stiftung Weimar, in cooperation with Royal Museums of Art and History, Belgium
Neues Museum Weimar
March 24June 23, 2013
Curators: Thomas Föhl, Sabine Walter, with the assistance of Swantje Dogunke

Henry van de Velde: Passion, Function, Beauty / Passie, Funktie, Schoonheid / Passion, Fonction et Beauté
Royal Museums of Art and History – Klassik Stiftung Weimar
Cinquantenaire Museum / Jubelpark Museum, Brussels
September 13, 2012January 12, 2014
Curator: Werner Adriaenssens

Edited by Thomas Föhl and Sabine Walter. Essays by Werner Adriaenssens, Ingeborg Becker, John Dieter Brinks, Föhl, Antje Neumann, Léon Ploegaerts, Linda Tschöpe, and Gerda Wendermann.
Weimar: Klassik Stiftung Weimar / Weimarer Verlagsgesellschaft, 2013.
464 pp.; 512 color illustrations, 130 b&w; illustrated checklist; name index
ISBN 978-3865396853 (German trade edition)

Henry van de Velde: Passion, Function, Beauty (English trade edition).
Henry van de Velde: Passie, Functie, Schoonheid (Dutch trade edition).
Henry van de Velde: Passion, Fonction, et Beauté (French trade edition).
Tielt: Lannoo, 2013.
ISBN: 978-94-014-1095-3 (English trade edition)
ISBN: 978-94-014-1093-9 (Dutch trade edition)
ISBN: 978-94-014-1094-6 (French trade edition)

Haus Hohe Pappeln
Belvederer Allee 58, Weimar

Humboldtstraße 36, Weimar
March 24December 31, 2013

No catalogues

Prophet des Neuen Stil: Der Architekt und Designer Henry van de Velde.
Edited by Hellmut Th. Seemann and Thorsten Valk. Essays by Ute Ackermann, Dieter Dolgner, Angelika Emmrich, Hansdieter Erbsmehl, Ole W. Fischer, Thomas Föhl, Norbert Korrek, Ursula Muscheler, Antje Neumann, Carsten Ruhl, Jérémy Vansteenkiste, Volker Wahl, Sabine Walter, Gabriel P. Weisberg, Gerda Wendermann, and Ulrike Wolff-Thomsen.
Klassik Stiftung Weimar Jahrbuch 2013.
Göttingen: Wallstein, 2013.
379 pp.; 19 color illustrations, 80 b&w
ISBN 978-3-8353-1229-6
ISSN 1864-1210

Fig. 37, Cover, catalogue of exhibition at Neues Museum, Weimar: Leidenschaft, Funktion und Schönheit: Henry van de Velde und sein Beitrag zur Europäischen Moderne, Klassik Stiftung Weimar, 2013. Cover design: Maria and Henry van de Velde, replica of wallpaper no. 4, 1895.

Fig. 38, Cover, catalogue of exhibition at Kunsthalle am Theaterplatz, Weimar: Henry van de Velde: Weimar 1902–1915. Gedächtnis Ausstellung zu seinem 100. Geburtstag am 3. April 1963. Photo by Louis Held, Henry van de Velde in his studio in the Kunstgewerbeschule with plans for parish house [destroyed in WWII], St. Peter’s Church, Riga, ca. 1910.

Fig. 39, Cover, Prophet des Neuen Stil: Der Architekt und Designer Henry van de Velde, Klassik Stiftung Weimar Jahrbuch 2013. Cover photo, ceiling lamp, 1903–04. Brass, opal and colored glass. Klassik Stiftung, Weimar.

Fig. 40, Neues Museum, Weimar. Banner reads: “Eine Linie ist eine Kraft” (A line is a force).

Fig. 41, Passion, Function, Beauty: Main entrance foyer: Six-armed candelabra, 1898–99. Silvered bronze. Cinquantenaire Museum, Royal Museums of Art and History, Brussels. Photo, Alexander Burzik, © Klassik Stiftung Weimar.

Fig. 42, Passion, Function, Beauty: Initial room, “Artistic beginnings”: Paintings, right of door, left to right, Jeanne Biart, 1883. Galerie Ronny Van de Velde, Antwerp-Knokke; Dunes, 1888. Private collection, Düsseldorf; Girl Mending, 1890. Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium. All oil on canvas. Far end of room, objects showing English influence on van der Velde.

Fig. 43, Passion, Function, Beauty: Paintings, left to right, Garden in Summer, ca. 1890. Osthaus Museum, Hagen; Winter Sun, 1892. Klassik Stiftung Weimar. Both oil on canvas. Paul Hankar, Chair, ca. 1897. Oak, leather. Victor Horta, Ceiling lamp, ca. 1897. Bronze, brass.  Both private collection, courtesy Galerie Historismus, Brussels. Gustav Serrurier-Bovy, Ladies’ Secretaire, c. 1900. Mahogany. Sammlung SAM. Photo, Alexander Burzik, © Klassik Stiftung Weimar.

Fig. 44, Passion, Function, Beauty: William Morris wallpaper “Pimpernel”; door into room related to Bloemenwerf, tea-gown for Maria Sèthe, 1895 (1964 copy in cotton). Original in velvet. Design Museum Ghent. Photo, Alexander Burzik, © Klassik Stiftung Weimar.

Fig. 45, Passion, Function, Beauty: On wall beyond table, The Angels’ Watch, 1892. Wool applique, silk thread embroidery. Dining room table (with inlaid brass plate) and vitrine cabinet; both for Bloemenwerf, 1895. Elm, fir. Both Museum für Gestaltung Zurich. Armchair, 1895. Oak, leather. Klassik Stiftung Weimar. Photo, Alexander Burzik, © Klassik Stiftung Weimar.

Fig. 46, Passion, Function, Beauty: Foreground, in mahogany vitrine: Vase, after 1902. Stoneware, salt glaze. Sammlung SAM. Bowl, ca. 1905, Stoneware with incised cobalt blue ornamentation. Klassik Stiftung Weimar. Background: Barber’s table, Salon François Haby, Berlin. 1900–01. Mahogany, brass, marble. Photo, Alexander Burzik, © Klassik Stiftung Weimar.

Fig. 47, Passion, Function, Beauty: Fictional dinner table set for ten at Harry Graf Kessler apartment. Biographies of potential guests on white panels on three sides of table. Meißen porcelain, “Whiplash”; silverware Model I, knife rests Model 3000. Sammlung SAM. Photo, Alexander Burzik, © Klassik Stiftung Weimar.

Passion, Function, and Beauty: Henry van de Velde and his Contribution to European Modernism represents the Klassik Stiftung Weimar’s principal offering for the anniversary year 2013 (fig. 37). Fifty years ago, a commemorative van de Velde exhibition took place in Weimar at the Kunsthalle am Theaterplatz. Some 179 items dating from the Belgian artist’s term of employment in the Grand Duchy (1902–1915) were grouped by medium and listed in a fifty-four-page catalogue, illustrated with a dozen black-and-white photographs (fig. 38). In 1992, Weimar was the second stop on the tour of a major van de Velde exhibition, the first after the fall of the Berlin Wall. The 465-page book accompanying the exhibition, which traveled to six cities between 1992 and 1994, was exactly the size of Passion, Function, and Beauty. Like the catalogue of the 2013 show, it contained a number of solid essays by experts, among them Thomas Föhl, curator of the 150th birthday exhibition in Weimar.[42] In the two decades since that show, Weimar has become a center for van de Velde research. Parallel to the eight essays and a chronology in its lavishly illustrated exhibition catalogue this year, the Klassik Stiftung Weimar published sixteen additional articles on the artist in its 2013 Jahrbuch (fig. 39). Föhl envisioned a presentation that would at once entertain a diverse public in Weimar and Brussels and document the multiple aspects of the Belgian designer’s productive life (17). Editor of a six-volume catalogue raisonné of van de Velde works in interior design and the decorative arts, Föhl inhabits the sphere of his subject in ways that the abundant written and visual sources demand.[43] For the 2013 exhibition he chose an energetic co-curator, Sabine Walter, a Kessler expert, who had the able support of Swantje Dogunke in the crucial final stages of preparations for the show.

The 2013 exhibition was held in the Neues Museum, inaugurated in 1869 as the Grand Ducal Museum (fig. 40). An arcade links the neo-Renaissance building to a huge remnant of the Nazi period, part of the Gauforum complex now anchored by a shopping mall.[44] The yellow banner in front of the museum quoted van de Velde’s best known slogan, “A line is a force.” First set in print in 1902 in Kunstgewerbliche Laienpredigten, the concept of a line as an elemental force and a basis for a “new ornament” gave visitors a suggestive password to keep in mind as they viewed the nearly 500 items installed on both floors of the museum.[45] Van de Velde’s motto epitomized in an objet phare stood in the entrance foyer at the foot of the main stairway: a six-armed, silvered bronze candelabra (fig. 41). Lent to the show by the Cinquantenaire Museum in Brussels, the candlestick was one of a pair bought in March 1900 for 850 francs after van de Velde showed them at the Salon de la Libre Esthétique; they were among the first works by van de Velde to enter a Belgian public collection (248).[46] The candelabra from Brussels—a paradigm of passion, function, and beauty—made an ideal preface to the exhibition. Radiating in its vitrine like a silvery dancing Siva, the candelabra’s dynamic lines imparted energy to art lovers heading up the stairs to the first room of the show. On the stairwell, paper spectacles prepared by the Bauhaus University architecture students allowed the museum goer to see how van de Velde would have redesigned the stairway in 1908, had his project been approved by the Grand Duke (398–9). Ninety years later, Daniel Buren did remodel the stairway, leaving in situ the statue of Goethe and Psyche (1851) by Carl Steinhauser, based on a drawing by Bettina von Arnim (click in link to photos 3 and 4 of 6).

The second Brussels candelabra was the centerpiece of the initial gallery, sharing a vitrine with a silvered brass water kettle (1902) with a teak handle and a réchaud, one of the objects in van de Velde’s legacy to the design museum in Zurich. Under the rubric “Artistic Beginnings,” the display of paintings began with a portrait of van de Velde’s favorite sister, Jeanne Biart. Next to her hung an undated dune landscape with short parallel brushstrokes, followed by a more pronounced example of Neo-Impressionism, The Girl Mending (fig. 42). In her catalogue essay, Gerda Wendermann discusses the impact on Belgian artists—and on van de Velde, in particular—of Georges Seurat’s A Sunday Afternoon on the Ile de la Grande Jatte (1884–86) at the fourth Salon of Les Vingt in 1887 (124–6). Along with Georges Lemmen and Auguste Rodin, van de Velde was elected to membership in Les Vingt in November 1888. He sent six paintings to the group’s Salon that year, among them Blankenberge, painted in August. Wendermann studies closely the period in which van de Velde wavered between Seurat’s dot and Van Gogh’s dash. An important work incorporating a strict interpretation of Seurat, as well as nascent research on the power of lines, Woman at the Window (1889; Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerp) appeared in the seventh Salon of Les Vingt in 1890 (127, 130).

A transitional work of 1892, Winter Sun, mingling short strokes of the brush with traces of Seurat, was the final canvas in the array showing van de Velde oils (fig. 43). As he moved away from painting, van de Velde produced strong pastels, such as the Abstract Plant Composition (1893; Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo), which hung with delicate graphic works and ornaments in the small adjacent room. He would become a collector of Neo-Impressionist works, displaying them in his Weimar residences with his friend Théo van Rysselberghe’s portrait of Madame van de Velde and Her Children (1903; Musée du Petit Palais, Geneva). He would also recommend such paintings by to his clients, but he seemed more inspired by the arts and crafts. The first room of the exhibition devoted two corners to sample objects by his Belgian contemporaries: Paul Hankar, Gustav Serrurier-Bovy, and Victor Horta. At the opposite end of the long gallery another section included two Van Rysselberghe paintings: the stunning Maria Sèthe at the Piano (1891; Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerp) and a subtle composition of dots and lines, l’Arc-en-Ciel (c. 1892, Centraal Museum, Utrecht). The British craftsmen he had come to admire—William Morris, Christopher Dresser, and Edward William Godwin—were the focus of the narrative path toward the door into a small second room (fig. 44).

There the visitor was introduced to Bloemenwerf, his first work of architecture. With his marriage in 1894 and the creation of his own house in Uccle the following year, van de Velde built his own Eden. He would keep some of the furniture crafted and used in those rooms for the rest of his life, and several large objects in the third room came from his archives in the Museum für Gestaltung in Zurich (fig. 45). When they saw the dining room table from Bloemenwerf, those viewers who had read van de Velde’s memoirs recalled Toulouse-Lautrec’s leap to savor the fragrant Flemish stew Maria Sèthe had placed on the central inlay; an impression of the Divan Japonais poster hung on a nearby wall to remind them. On the wall behind the table was the embroidery The Angels’ Watch. The wall hanging can be thought of as a hinge into his new life, as Werner Adriaenssens explains in his thoughtful catalogue essay, “Bloemenwerf, Manifest eines Berufswechsels” (Manifesto of a Career Change, 156–83). Linda Tschöpe (328–49) also describes the important Zurich piece in her essay on textiles, beautifully illustrated with embroidery fragments from Maria Sèthe’s reform garments.

The catalogue, unlike the exhibition, is arranged chiefly by medium, and the Bloemenwerf furniture is discussed in fascinating detail in Adriaenssens’s second catalogue essay (210–47). In those pages he makes clear the rhythm of success and failure that led van de Velde to move to Berlin. There he had found more clients than he could physically handle, nor could he manage financial complexities or the logistics of delivering his works to Germany. Despite Maria’s heroic efforts to keep it afloat, the firm in Brussels failed. To help reduce the losses, in October 1900 von Bodenhausen, always short of money himself, indentured the Belgian genius to the Berlin art dealer Hermann Hirschwald (1845–1906). Bloemenwerf was put up for rent, then sold, and van de Velde, now a salaried employee, set to work in Berlin on a new project, the interior of a luxury barber shop for François Haby, the most famous coiffeur in Prussia. A work station from the men’s section (enter 490 in search box when link opens), dramatic in itself, was multiplied by mirrors in the installation, catching reflections of nearby objects (fig. 46). Haby had discovered how to help Emperor Wilhelm II’s mustache resist gravity, and he could afford to have his shop on the Mittelstraße redesigned by the trendy Belgian expatriate. Frequented by Heinrich Mann’s character Diederich Heßling in Der Untertan, the new Haby salon became a sensation for brazenly exposing the gleaming gas and water pipes surrounding the marble sinks. Van de Velde was also at work in 1901 on the interior of the Folkwang Museum in Hagen. Troubled when Osthaus insisted that he retain the traditional columns and metal supports of the recently completed entrance hall, van de Velde seized on the analogy with the human body. He simply covered the earlier architect’s skeleton with his own plaster flesh. The Haby interior was an extreme case of baring what was normally hidden, of stressing, rather than masking, function. The painter Max Liebermann allegedly complained about the innovative design that you wouldn’t wear your guts like a watch chain on your waistcoat.

The salt-glazed stoneware in the vitrine, recalling how Haby might have displayed his line of cosmetics and hair products, documents van de Velde’s growing interest in making ceramics. He had earlier collected works of Willy Finch, Alexandre Bigot, and other artists in clay, but he displayed his own vases for the first time in 1902 at the Düsseldorf Industrie- und Gewerbe Ausstellung (May 1–October 20, 1902). He had discovered the Reinhold Hanke firm in Höhr-Grenzhausen, the pottery town in the Westerwald near Coblenz. August Hanke had taken over his father’s firm in 1901, and four different versions of a large vase by van de Velde were shown in different contexts at the Düsseldorf show (296). Van de Velde even produced his own interpretation of the renowned Westerwald beer steins and kept at least one of them throughout his life. In her shapely and splendidly illustrated essay for the catalogue, Ingeborg Becker tells the story of van de Velde’s fascination with ceramics and his success in imparting his enthusiasm to his students (290–327).

A magical presentation in the museum’s Preller Gallery evoked a wholly imaginary Kessler dinner table, with ten places set with van de Velde’s Meissen porcelain in the “whiplash” pattern and fourteen silver pieces per guest in the Model I pattern (fig. 47).[47] The dinner ensemble was lent by a single German collector. The ten chairs are the only surviving furniture from Kessler’s dining room in Weimar; everything else disappeared when he went into exile in 1933. Forming an instructive protective hedge to the gleaming table was a low barrier printed with succinct and entertaining biographies (written by Thomas Föhl) of personalities who might have been invited to such a meal. One, for example, was Edward Gordon Craig, the illegitimate son of actress Ellen Terry and Edward William Godwin; a black lacquered wood buffet by Godwin was on display in the first room of the exhibition to illustrate Japanese influence on designers (53). Craig visited Weimar several times after 1904, consulting with van de Velde on theatre projects.[48] Richard and Ida Dehmel were other ghosts at the Kessler dinner party. Fohl wrote, “Thanks to her exotic appearance, Ida Dehmel was regarded as the embodiment of the ‘Jugendstil woman.’ Facing deportation by the Nazis because of her Jewish ancestry, the lifelong women’s rights advocate took her own life on September 29, 1942, at the age of 72.”[49] Meeting the spectral guests and reading what Kessler wrote about them in his diary provided a piquant flavor complementing the rare silver and porcelain artifacts on the table.

Kessler’s apartment in the Cranachstraße, designed by van de Velde in 1902–03, was conceived as the center of what the two men hoped would be a New Weimar. Close to the Nietzsche-Archiv, which van de Velde was remodeling at the same time, the dining room (enter 43 in search box when link opens), the pictures, and the harmonious design were to provide a setting for the exchange of ideas, drawing artists and intellectuals to Weimar as a Secessionist haven, competing with Darmstadt, Hagen, and Krefeld. Van de Velde was optimistic, even euphoric at first. The Grand Duke’s staff, as they considered van de Velde’s assignment in 1901, had questioned Kessler on whether Maria would behave suitably at court. Her husband soon charmed the young ruler’s widowed mother, the Hereditary Grand Duchess Pauline, who accompanied him on an inspection tour of the craft workshops during his early months in Thuringia. Caroline, the reluctant bride of Grand Duke Wilhelm Ernst, showed an interest in the exhibitions at Kessler’s museum when she arrived in 1903. In December that year Kessler held in his museum on the Karlsplatz the founding meeting of the Deutscher Künstlerbund. The new artists’ association crossed regional boundaries and promoted freedom for the artist in the face of the emperor’s scorn. In May 1904, however, Pauline of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach died on her way back to Weimar from her winter home in Italy; in January 1905 the twenty-year-old Grand Duchess Caroline, who had provided funds enabling the museum to purchase Rodin’s Age of Bronze, died suddenly as well. As van de Velde put it in his memoirs, the loss of these sympathetic women made him feel as if the curtain had fallen twice. The resignation of Kessler in the wake of the Rodin scandal in the summer of 1906 was in many ways a final curtain.

Professor van de Velde, now on his own, concentrated on his private commissions and his teaching, represented in the exhibition by a room with a much-used studio table and many works by his students. He had opened his decorative arts seminar (Kunstgewerbliches Seminar) in October 1902, taking over and remodeling a studio space in the large Preller house (built by artist Louis Preller, no relation to Friedrich Preller) near the art school. Van de Velde had to campaign persistently for permission to build the Kunstgewerbeschule. Now venerated as the cradle of the Bauhaus, it was completed in 1906 and opened officially in 1908. A number of other projects in Weimar fell through, particularly those requiring official approval—a restaurant, a new summer theatre, rebuilding the national theatre, designing a new building for the Großherzogliches Museum für Kunst und Kunstgewerbe (the Kunsthalle Harry Graf Kessler is now housed in what remains of the building), the projected rebuilding of the Grand Ducal Museum (Neues Museum). On the plus side, beyond Weimar, van de Velde finished Hohenhof in Hagen, received a commission from Arnold Esche for his property in Lauterbach, and another from Fritz Eugen Esche for a tennis clubhouse in Chemnitz. Best of all, perhaps, Carl Herrmann, his loyal painter friend in Berlin, financed the completion of Haus Hohe Pappeln.

Fig. 48, Passion, Function, Beauty: Children’s room furniture for Willy Engels, Berlin, 1911. Massive ash and wood veneer, linoleum on table top. Stiftung Stadtmuseum, Berlin. Photo, Alexander Burzik, © Klassik Stiftung Weimar.

Fig. 49, Passion, Function, Beauty: Writing desk, 1903. Beech wood, brass fixtures. Electric desk lamp (Model E 117), 1903–04. Silvered brass. Both Landesmuseum Württemberg, Stuttgart. Desk chair for Baron Max von Munchhausen, 1904. Massive oak. On wall, watercolor and pen drawings for project to remodel Grand Ducal Museum, Weimar, 1908. Chair and drawings, Klassik Stiftung, Weimar.

Fig. 50, Passion, Function, Beauty: Library desk with book supports, chairs, and lamp, 1933–36. Wood, metal. Ghent University Library (Boekentoren), Ghent.

Fig. 51, Passion, Function, Beauty: Foreground, P. Forceville, Model of Henry van de Velde, Prince Baudouin, ferry from Ostende to Dover, 1934. MAS, Maritime Collection, Antwerp. Rear wall, photographs of ship interiors. Staatsarchiv, Antwerp, and Archives et Musée de la Littérature, Fonds Henry van de Velde, Brussels. Photo, Alexander Burzik, © Klassik Stiftung Weimar.

Fig. 52, Nietzsche-Archiv, Weimar. Façade, 1903.

Fig. 53, Nietzsche-Archiv, Weimar. Interior. Arnold Kramer, Seated Nietzsche, 1898. Bronze. Photo, Jens Hauspurg, © Thüringer Tourismus.

Fig. 54, Haus Hohe Pappeln, Weimar. Interior. Photo, Jens Hauspurg, © Courtesy Thüringer Tourismus.

Fig. 55, Haus Hohe Pappeln, Weimar, Garden, rear view of house, 2013.

The four houses for his family, all shown in the exhibition as models, and other houses for private clients during the Weimar period are the subject of Léon Ploegaerts’s catalogue essay on van de Velde’s theory of dwellings (378–95). He sees the simultaneous Hohenhof and Hohe Pappeln as studies in functionality, quoting Walter Benjamin: “With van de Velde the house is a plastic expression of personality. Ornament is to the house what a signature is to a painting” (378). Ploegaerts matches each house in his discussion to the wealth of theory van de Velde published. The exhibition demonstrates that van de Velde’s ornamentation became more abstract, as shown in the set of children’s furniture for Willy Engels in Berlin (fig. 48). A desk manufactured in 1903 by Heinrich Scheidemantel in Weimar is simpler than earlier desks; it is shown in the exhibition with van de Velde’s watercolor drawing of 1908 for the director’s office in the projected remodeling of the Grand Ducal Museum (fig. 49).[50] The desk lamp is also abstract in its ornament: Greek key designs and bared bolts and screws. Antje Neumann describes it as a classic: “Its especially beautifully shaped shade resembles whipped cream, in contrast to the elegant construction below” (253-54). The last desk in the exhibition, a restored treasure from the Boekentoren in Ghent, has achieved pure function and apparently survived generations of students, a testament to van de Velde’s plea for rationality (fig. 50).

John Dieter Brinks, an authority on van de Velde as a book artist, chose seven examples for a catalogue essay that explores the Belgian’s development of the line and his inspiration from the column in the search for harmony and balance on a page (350–77). The illustrations in his chapter range from Dominical (1892) to La Colonne (1943). For all seven examples in his essay, Brinks is an articulate guide to the subtleties of van de Velde’s quest for the bound Gesamtkunstwerk. Nearly every anniversary year exhibition discussed above displayed a copy of Nietzsche’s Also sprach Zarathustra, published by Insel in Leipzig in 1908 after a decade in gestation. For that book, Brinks is particularly helpful as he parses both design and meaning. He compares the heavy oval ornament of a trial proof in La Cambre to the final version with the ornament removed. In the final page, Van de Velde achieved a pure column of type and lit it with gold instead of ochre (361). That one of this book lover’s last major works was a university library was a stroke of good fortune.

Henry van de Velde grew up in Antwerp on the Falconplein near the Bonaparte docks. With the poet Max Elskamp, his classmate at the Antwerp Athenaeum, he spent hours roaming the port and watching ship traffic on the Schelde. Antwerp’s newest museum is about two blocks from van de Velde’s childhood home; at the Museum aan de Stroom (MAS), the errant schoolboys would be amazed at the sixth-floor display entitled “World Port.” The MAS lent one of the more surprising and popular objects in the 2013 exhibition, a model of the ferry and mail packet Prince Baudouin, designed by van de Velde in 1933–34 (fig. 51).

The exhibition closed with a vitrine containing the 1962 German edition of van de Velde’s memoirs edited by Hans Curjel, Geschichte meines Lebens, and the 1992–95 volumes of Le Récit de ma vie edited by Anne Van Loo and Fabrice van de Kerckhove. Despite his memory lapses, he remembered a miraculous amount, and his book conveys his passionate, not always likeable tone. Kessler’s sister allowed van de Velde to read some of the count’s as yet unpublished diary, an experience that may have enriched his own narrative. The van de Velde book has never appeared in Dutch or English, but the new Japanese edition of 2012 (Anri ban do berudo jiden, edited and translated by Hajime Obata and published in Tokyo by Kajimashuppankai) was also included in the last vitrine in Weimar.

That final touch is a measure of the thoroughness and depth of the Weimar exhibition. A large retrospective requires multiple viewings, but even the casual visitor left with a sense of the scope of van de Velde’s undertakings. The team responsible for the show must have drawn inspiration from one of his core strengths that is difficult to demonstrate: his gift for the ephemeral art of exhibition display.[51] Photographs, particularly those in the many journals devoted to interior design and the decorative arts, show that he must have carefully placed objects in the numerous exhibitions where he had a hand in the installation; in the less than three years that Kessler ran the museum on the Karlsplatz, van de Velde may have been involved to some extent in nearly forty shows.

Each visitor to the 2013 exhibition will have retained his or her own mental snapshots: a belt buckle for Gertrud Osthaus, the high chair from Bloemenwerf, the painter’s cabinet for his friend Curt Herrmann’s apartment in Berlin, the sleek white stools and hanging lamp for the tennis club in Chemnitz, the grotesquely inappropriate chalk drawing for the van Gogh room at the Kröller-Müller Museum in 1923. Reading the excellent essays in the catalogue and the Jahrbuch can reinforce those images and answer many questions. Not much is known, however, about the second Belgian period or van de Velde’s work during the German occupation for his friend and colleague Raphael Verwilghen in the Commisariaat-Generaal voor ’s Lands Wederopbouw (CGLW). The completion of the Klassik Stiftung Weimar’s catalogue raisonné and further study of the correspondence can be expected to add considerably to the information available on the period after 1926.

With a combination ticket, the visitor could move on from the Neues Museum to the Nietzsche-Archiv, a monument of the New Weimar (fig. 52). After walking through the still breathtaking van de Velde entrance, one encounters in the documentation a photograph of Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche greeting Hitler at that very threshold in 1934, the year before she died. However controversial Nietzsche’s sister may have been, at the beginning of the twentieth century intellectuals, writers, and artists surged through those doors to pay their respects to her late brother. In any case, the former library-lecture room at the Nietzsche-Archiv is among van de Velde’s best-preserved interiors (fig. 53).

From Villa Silberblick where Nietzsche died in his bedroom over the archives and where his memory is enshrined, the Weimar tourist can take a bus to the Haus Hohe Pappeln. There the Klassik Stiftung Weimar is trying to reassemble some of the scattered van de Velde family possessions; on display at present is the lovely, recently acquired furniture made in 1904 for Baron Max von Munchhausen and a chair reproduced from photographs (fig. 54). Thyl van de Velde, who was four in 1908 when the family moved into the house his father built on the outskirts of Weimar, named it for the tall poplars on the property; those trees are also no longer there (fig. 55).

Jane Van Nimmen
Independent scholar, Vienna, Austria

The author is grateful to Sabine Walter and Swantje Dugonke, Klassik Stiftung Weimar, and Bart Suys, Cinquantenaire Museum, Royal Museums of Art and History, Brussels, for generously supplying photographs and other materials; Manuela Dix, Kunstsammlung Jena, for making digital files available; Birgit Schulte, Osthaus Museum Hagen, and Fabrice van de Kerckhove, Archives et Musée de la Littérature, Brussels, for their rapid responses to requests.

[1] François Schuiten and his co-author Benoît Peeters won the Grand Prize Manga at the Japan Art Festival 2013 for their long collaboration on Les Cités Obscures(1983–2008). Schuiten, the son and brother of Brussels architects, may have been more influenced by van de Velde’s rival Victor Horta, whose townhouse Maison Autrique (1893) he and Peeters scrupulously restored. In 2003, the Belgian post issued a series of four stamps designed by Schuiten depicting works by van de Velde.

[2] A chair upholstered with Morris’s “Dove and Rose” pattern photographed at Siegfried Bing’s gallery in Paris around 1896 is illustrated in Gabriel P. Weisberg, Art Nouveau Bing: Paris Style 1900, exh. cat. (New York: Harry N. Abrams, in association with the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, 1986), fig. 59. The four chairs, manufactured for Esche’s apartment in 1898 and then still in use in his villa in Chemnitz, were published by Karl Ernst Osthaus in his book Van de Velde: [Leben und Schaffen des Künstlers] (Hagen: Folkwang Verlag, 1920), 33. In the photograph (enter 33 in search box when link opens), one of the four chairs is seen from the rear in the same position as the chair in Schuiten’s doodle. Van de Velde first produced this type of chair in 1895 for his sister and brother-in-law Jeanne and Léon Biart. Eberhard Freiherr von Bodenhausen commissioned an example in 1897; with his and other German patrons’ financial support, van de Velde began producing their furniture in a new workshop in a Brussels suburb. A “fragment drawing” by Hugo Ulbrich of the prototype of what is now called the Bodenhausen armchair accompanied van de Velde’s article on furniture design in Pan 3, no. 4 (February 1898), 260–63.

[3] Van de Velde might have been especially pleased with Schuiten’s choice for this vignette. To the architect’s lasting chagrin, Auguste Perret took the Paris theatre project away from him. The French architectural historian Bernard Marrey has labored to establish the importance of van de Velde’s contribution to the design; see Revers d’un chef-d’oeuvre: la naissance du théâtre des Champs-Elysées (Paris: Picard, 2007). The best known production during the theatre’s first season, Igor Stravinsky’s ballet Le Sacre du Printemps (The Rite of Spring), was also celebrated with revivals throughout the world in 2013.

[4] Many Belgian sources attribute the design of the national railway logoin use since 1936—a horizontal oval with a B – to Jean de Roy, claiming that van de Velde, in his role as artistic advisor, merely urged management to accept it. Most of the anniversary-year catalogues, however, continue to accept van de Velde as the designer.

[5] Quoted in Thomas Föhl, Henry van de Velde: Architekt und Designer des Jugendstils (Weimar: Weimarer Verlagsgesellschaft, 2010), 322. Föhl centers his lucid account on van de Velde’s Weimar period and appends an immensely useful section of nearly fifty pages providing short biographies of the artist’s relevant contacts.

[6] Hans Curjel, Um 1900: Art Nouveau und Jugendstil, Kunst und Kunstgewerbe aus Europa und Amerika zur Zeit der Stilwende, exh. cat. (Zurich: Kunstgewerbe Museum, 1952). Curjel translated and edited van de Velde’s unfinished autobiography, publishing it five years after the Belgian architect died in Zurich; see Henry van de Velde, Geschichte meines Lebens (Munich: Piper, 1962). The first French version (with an excellent index) appeared thirty years later: Le Récit de ma vie, texte établi et commenté par Anne Van Loo, avec la collaboration de Fabrice van de Kerckhove, 2 vols. (Brussels and Paris: VersA / Flammarion, 1992–95); vol. 1, Anvers, Bruxelles, Paris, Berlin, 1863–1900; vol. 2, Berlin, Paris, Weimar, 1900–1913 [i.e. 1917]. See also Léon Ploegaerts, Henry Van de Velde: les Mémoires inachevées d’un artiste européen, édition critique établie par Léon Ploegaerts, 2 vols. ([Brussels]: Académie royale de Belgique, ca. 1999), vol. 1, Les Mémoires; vol. 2, Notes et variants.

[7] Birgit Kuhbandner mentions that the partnership ended around the turn of the century when Richard Schuster’s wife left him for Loeffler; see Unternehmer zwischen Markt und Moderne: Verleger und die zeitgenössische deutschsprachige Literatur an der Schwelle zum 20. Jahrhundert, Mainzer Schriften zur Buchwissenschaft 17 (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2008), 93, n. 32. The firm was best known as the publisher of the poet Detlev von Liliencron and the writer Richard Dehmel.

[8] See Curjel, Um 1900 (1952; as in note 6).

[9] The Germanisches Nationalmuseum lent the Loeffler desk to a monographic retrospective during the summer after van de Velde’s death: Henry van de Velde, 1863–1957: Persönlichkeit und Werk, exh. cat. (Zurich: Kunstgewerbemuseum, 1958). The chair for the desk was lent by Mathilde Loeffler and was also purchased by the Nuremberg museum after the show.

[10] Louise Sèthe, with whom her daughter and son-in-law lived after their marriage in 1894, obtained the building permit for Bloemenwerf within days after the couple’s first child was born in April 1895; the baby girl lived only a little over a month. A second child born in April 1896 lived for only ten days. The impulse to construct a refuge for his family—free from infection, as well as from ugliness—transformed the painter van de Velde into an architect. Louise Sèthe also commissioned a new house for herself in a nearby lot; both houses in Uccle are extant.

[11] According to van de Velde’s memoirs, the German critic Julius Meier-Graefe accompanied Bing to Uccle for this first meeting. This is one of countless passages in the memoirs where van de Velde’s octogenarian memory appears to have blurred events. For an alternate, if inconclusive reconstruction of their earliest encounters, see Catherine Krahmer, “Uber die Anfänge des Neuen Stils: Henry van de Velde, Siegfried Bing, Julius Meier-Graefe,” in Klaus-Jürgen Sembach and Birgit Schulte, eds., Henry van de Velde: Ein europäischer Künstler seiner Zeit, exh. cat. (Cologne: Wienand, 1992), 148–68. Van de Velde recalled Bing’s kind words when the dealer saw that Maria Sèthe was dressed in mourning; unless memory failed him here as well, this would place Bing’s visit after the death of the couple’s infant daughter on May 18, 1895. Krahmer suggests that the Berlin dealer Hermann Paechter (1839–1902) was the person who accompanied Meier-Graefe.

[12] On the reception of Bing’s l’Art Nouveau, see Weisberg, Art Nouveau Bing (1986; as in note 2), chapter 2.

[13] In his memoirs, van de Velde mentioned Toulouse-Lautrec’s ape-like leap onto the dining room table to sniff Maria Sèthe’s special stew, a hochepôt flamand, and the artist’s keen delight at her Flemish style rijstpap with saffron. See Anne Van Loo, Récit de ma vie (as in note 6 above; 1:307). Van Loo annotated this passage with three other accounts of the luncheon at Bloemenwerf (1:306). Van Loo (1:307) and Ploegaerts, Mémoires inachevées (1:103, and 2:568) do not correct van de Velde’s phonetic misspelling of the sublime Flemish dessert as rijspap [sic].

[14] Bodenhausen not only ordered furniture but wrote an article for Pan, praising van de Velde’s interiors and observing that what fundamentally distinguished him from his English predecessors and from contemporary German artists was that he did not specialize in a single field.

[15] In the last days of 1897, Kessler had purchased Models by Georges Seurat (1886–88; since 1926, Barnes Collection, Philadelphia) from Ambroise Vollard in Paris. The picture, more than six feet wide, was too large for the wall at 28 Köthener Straße in Berlin, and van de Velde attributes to Kessler the idea of devising a frame into which the painting could be rolled. Van de Velde’s memoirs describe the middle figure as exposed to the viewer after rolling both sides. Only the model in profile on the right, however, is visible in the photograph illustrated in Gerhard Schuster and Margot Pehle, eds., Harry Graf Kessler: Tagebuch eines Weltmannes, Marbacher Katalog 43, exh. cat. (Marbach am Neckar: Deutsche Schillergesellschaft, 1988), 74–7. See also Ploegaerts, Mémoires inachevées, 2:893, fig. 13.

[16] The drawing is closely related to Fields with Poppies (1889), acquired by Kunsthaus Bremen in 1911.

[17] By 1912, when Osthaus published the first and only catalogue for his museum, he owned six van Gogh paintings and four superb drawings, all purchased through Cassirer from Johanna Bonger. He also owned six Renoir paintings. His first purchase from Cassirer in 1901—on van de Velde’s recommendation—was Renoir’s Lise, with a Parasol (1867; Museum Folkwang, Essen); it was hanging in Hagen at the Folkwang Museum when it opened in July 1902. He later acquired fourteen Schiele watercolors; Paul Signac’s Seine at St. Cloud (1900; Folkwang Museum, Essen); Edvard Munch’s Beach (1903; private collection), plus a dozen of his prints; and seven Gauguin paintings, to name a handful of his treasures in 1912. On the museum and its collection, see Herta Hesse-Frielinghaus, et al., Karl Ernst Osthaus: Leben und Werk (Recklinghausen: Bongers, 1971), 119–225, with a reprint of the 1912 catalogue, 519–26.

[18] The Meunier purchase, like the Minne commission, may well have been another recommendation of van de Velde; a large 1899 cast of Meunier’s bronze was unveiled in Square Ambiorix in Brussels in 1901.

[19] Despite some losses, the brilliance of Karl Ernst Osthaus as a collector is still evident in Essen. Cézanne’s Quarry at Bibémus (c. 1895), for example, bought by the couple after a visit to the painter in Aix in 1906, the year of his death, was confiscated by the Nazis and sold for foreign exchange. In 1964 the picture was re-acquired and rejoined a second Osthaus Cézanne, which had survived the war in Essen.

[20] According to the explanation kindly given to the author by Fabrice van de Kerckhove, Archives et Musée de la Littérature (AML), there are two large, “distinct and complementary” repositories of materials related to Henry van de Velde in Brussels. The older repository is ENSAV—La Cambre, where the Henry van de Velde archive (Fonds Henry van de Velde) comprises more than 4,000 items: architectural plans, decorative arts projects, a personal library, and 660 glass-plate negatives. Van de Velde, founding director of the arts and crafts school at La Cambre from 1927 until 1936, donated that material to the institution when he left Belgium for Switzerland in 1947. The archive at the ENSAV library is administered by a committee of van de Velde specialists.

The second repository in Brussels is the Fonds Henry van de Velde of the Bibliothèque royale de Belgique / Koninklijke Bibliotheek van België, deposited in the Archives et Musée de la Littérature (under the oversight of the royal library). It consists of the personal archives van de Velde took with him to Switzerland to continue writing his memoirs (drafts, notes, correspondence, files about his work, and a collection of press cuttings). This material was delivered upon his death to the Ecole polytechnique féderale de Zurich (ETH Zürich) and transferred to the Bibliothèque royale in Brussels on May 10, 1963. Since then, various gifts, described in the introduction by Claudine Lemaire to the 1993 catalogue of the archive, have been added to the holdings at AML. After a review undertaken by Marguerite Cambier, the 191-page catalogue went online on April 3, 2013, an enormous convenience for researchers and a splendid contribution to the birthday celebration.

[21] For several months beginning on November 11, 1900, a classified ad ran in l’Art moderne, announcing that since van de Velde had moved to Berlin, his country house at Avenue Vanderaey 80 was for rent; inquiries could be made next door. The ads can be found by searching for “Uccle” in the useful digital version of l’Art moderne available here.

[22] Förster-Nietzsche formulated van de Velde’s job description in a letter to Kessler (March 22, 1901); see Thomas Föhl, Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche und Harry Graf Kessler: Der Briefwechsel 1895–1935 (Weimar: Weimarer Verlagsgesellschaft, 2013), 1, Letter 190.

[23] After 1902 Kessler would also live in the pleasant, villa-lined street on the southwestern edge of Weimar. He commissioned van de Velde, once again, to design his interior at Cranachstraße 3 (now 15).

[24] At Bloemenwerf, the Seurat picture had hung in the entrance hall, as Sabine Walter points out in her important article “Agent der Moderne: Henry van de Velde als Kunstsammler und -vermittler,” in Hellmut Th. Seeman and Thorsten Valk, Prophet des Neuen Stil: Der Architekt und Designer Henry van de Velde, Klassik Stiftung Weimar Jahrbuch 2013 (Göttingen: Wallstein, 2013), 176, fig. 2, and 201. Van de Velde may have sold the painting to Osthaus after 1906; it appears in the 1912 catalogue, Museum Folkwang Hagen i. W., 1, Moderne Kunst (Hagen: Museum Folkwang, 1912), 18, no. 187, and was later acquired by the Rijksmuseum Kröller-Müller. In the center of the bookcase shelf behind van de Velde in Held’s photograph (reproduced as Walter’s fig. 3) stands a Minne bronze, Small Injured Figure II (1896–98), also identifiable in photographs of Bloemenwerf; see Walter, 195, fig. 1. Walter envisions van de Velde moving the Minne statuette from room to room and from house to house, a talisman integrating art into everyday life.

[25] Walter (“Agent der Moderne,” as in note 24, 202) discusses van de Velde’s Signac landscapes, referring to catalogue numbers in Françoise Cachin, Signac: Catalogue raisonné de l’oeuvre peint (Paris: Gallimard, 2000). Another of van de Velde’s earlier collecting interests—the Japanese kimono stencils called katagami—may not have survived the moves in Germany. Gabriel P. Weisberg described the framed katagami at Bloemenwerf in his fascinating article “Jugendstil und Japonismus: Zur Katagami-Rezeption im Frühwerk van de Veldes,” in Prophet des Neuen Stil (as in note 24), 33–52. No katagami have as yet been identified in the Louis Held photos of Weimar. An undated photograph of katagami hanging on the main stairwell of the Folkwang Museum Hagen is reproduced in Akiko Mabuchi et al., Katagami Style: Paper Stencils and Japonisme, exh. cat. (Tokyo: Nikkei, 2012), 208, Photo 18 (from Foto Marburg, Bildarchiv No. 1.182.176).

[26] For a thoughtful discussion of van de Velde’s complex reasons for building his second house, see Thomas Föhl, Henry van de Velde: Das Haus unter den hohen Pappeln (Munich: Gallas, 2003), 42–5, 84, n. 4.

[27] Commissioned by Osthaus, Peter Behrens designed a lecture hall at the Folkwang Museum, the mayor’s house, and a crematorium; the Munich designer Richard Riemerschmid completed a handful of the 87 planned row houses for textile workers; and the Dutch architect J. L. M. Lauwerijks built an artists’ colony at the foot of the hill below Hohenhof. Now administered by the museum, Hohenhof extended the Hagen exhibition into a vast actual space.

[28] Count Kessler’s observations during visits to Hagen in 1907 and 1911 are quoted by Thomas Föhl in Architekt und Designer (2010; as in note 5), 206–08: [December 15, 1907] “Melancholy of the city, the smoke, the people, of Osthaus himself.” Föhl (207) also quotes a description by Hans Purrmann of the sheer horror expressed by Henri Matisse at a forced visit in December 2008 to Peter Behrens’s new crematorium.

[29] Professor Binswanger’s patients included Friedrich Nietzsche and the drug-addicted writers Hans Fallada and Johannes R. Becher. Becher not only survived but became the first culture minister of the DDR; see Föhl, Architekt und Designer (2010; as in note 5), 371–2.

[30] The contrasts in their change of focus and the conjunctions of the two artists’ lives are explored with great understanding by Thomas Föhl in his essay for the Klassik Stiftung Weimar Jahrbuch 2013, Prophet des Neuen Stil (as in note 24), “Neuer Stil und Expressionismus,” 65–86.

[31] Shortly before he left Germany, Van de Velde bought a floral still life (Wilted Tulips) from Kirchner’s second one-man exhibition at the Jena Kunstverein (February 21–April 1, 1917). Lucius Grisebach in his 2013 exhibition catalogue essay—‘Wie geht es Ihnen, Sie ewige Wanderer?’ Ernst Ludwig Kirchners schwärmerische Beziehung zu Vater und Tochter van de Velde”—quotes a letter Kirchner wrote to Eberhard Grisebach (the author’s grandfather) to say how happy he was to hear that van de Velde had bought his painting (56, 61, note 6). Kirchner dated his letter April 8, 1917; the following day, Botho Graef died of a heart attack in Dr. Kohnstamm’s clinic in Königstein. See Föhl, “Neuer Stil und Expressionismus” (as in note 24), 71–2, for the sequence of van de Velde’s and Kirchner’s arrivals in Switzerland and on the crisis in van de Velde’s marriage during the troubled years between 1914 and 1918.

[32] Volker Wahl, Jena als Kunststadt: 1900–1933 (Leipzig: Seemann, 1988), 174–5, 295. In 1937 some thirty Kirchner prints from the Botho Graef-Stiftung were traded to Galerie Nierendorf in Berlin for two paintings and a few prints and drawings by other artists; the rest of the Kirchner prints were confiscated by the Nazis, along with three Kirchner paintings and the works of all other “degenerate” artists in the collection of the Kunstverein Jena. Only a handful of these objects have returned to Jena.

[33] For Part One of the cycle On Death (vom Tode), Opus XI, see the wonderful Max Klinger: Le théâtre de l’étrange: Les suites gravées, 1879–1915, exh. cat. (Strasbourg: Musées de la Ville de Strasbourg, 2012), 167–74.

[34] Botho Graef, Hodlers und Hofmanns Wandbilder in der Universität Jena (Jena: Diederichs, 1910). See Wahl, Jena als Kunststadt (as in note 32), 107–29, and Anna Bálint, Auszug deutscher Studenten in den Freiheitskrieg von 1913 (1908–1909: Ferdinand Hodlers Jenaer Historiengemälde, Auftragsgeschichte, Werkgenese, Nachleben (Frankfurt am Main: Lang, 1999). The painting may be seen upon request at the main porter’s desk in Fischer’s university building.

[35] See Thomas Föhl, “Harry Graf Kessler und das Großherzogliche Museum für Kunst und Kunstgewerbe in Weimar,” in Von Berlin nach Weimar: Von der Kunstkammer zum Neuen Museum, 300 Jahre Sammlungen und Museen in Weimar, Gert-Dieter Ulferts and Thomas Föhl, eds. (Munich: Deutscher Kunstverlag, 2003), 162–73.

[36] Wahl, Jena als Kunststadt (as in note 32), 56–77.

[37] Föhl, Architekt und Designer (2010; as in note 5), 113.

[38] See also Eberhard W. Kornfeld, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner: Nachzeichnung seines Lebens (Bern: Kornfeld & Ketterer, 1979).

[39] Munch included Graef in the foreground of a drypoint portrait inscribed on the plate, “Oberhof 1906”; see Gerd Woll, Edvard Munch: The Complete Graphic Works (London: Wilson, 2012, revised and updated edition), no. 276. Sigrid Achenbach identified Graef in the Munch drypoint through an impression Munch had dedicated to him; see Sigrid Achenbach, Edvard Munch: Die Graphik im Berliner Kupferstichkabinett, exh. cat. (Berlin: G+H Verlag, 2003), 136–7, no. 127. The best source on Munch’s activities in Thuringia remains Volker Wahl, “Edvard Munchs Thüringer Aufenthalt: 1904 bis 1907,” Jena als Kunststadt (as in note 32), 78–106. Munch’s visit to Thuringia in the spring of 1904 was a matter of weeks, while his stay from the autumn of 1905 until the beginning of 1907 was interrupted only by brief visits to Berlin.

[40] The Cassirer show (January 24–February 18, 1907) included other recent paintings, for example, the Auerbach and Nietzsche portraits, The Esche Children, and a portrait of Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche. On Munch exhibitions, see the superb work by Jan Kneher, Edvard Munch in seinen Ausstellungen zwischen 1892 und 1912 (Worms: Wernersche Verlagsgesellschaft, 1994).

[41] The carillon with thirty-five bells was bought by the Belgian American Educational Foundation and presented to former President Herbert Hoover for his new tower at Stanford. In 2007, the Belgian Government ordered four bells for the van de Velde structure in Richmond, now called the Belgian Friendship Building. The new bells rang for the first time in Richmond on November 16, 2011.

[42] Before coming to Weimar in 1993, Föhl had published an unsurpassed essay on Eberhard von Bodenhausen in the catalogue to Henry van de Velde: Ein europäischer Künstler seiner Zeit (as in note 11), 169–205. In 2010 Föhl dedicated his brilliant study of van de Velde as architect and designer (see note 5) to Klaus-Jürgen Sembach, one of the organizers of the touring show in 1992. The exhibition opened at the Karl Ernst Osthaus Museum in Hagen in September 1992, traveled to the Kunsthalle am Theaterplatz in Weimar in November, and continued to Berlin, Ghent, Zurich, and Nuremberg. All those cities except Nuremberg were stations in van de Velde’s life.

[43] See Thomas Föhl and Antje Neumann, eds., Henry van de Velde, Raumkunst und Kunsthandwerk / Interior Design and Decorative Arts: Ein Werkverzeichnis in sechs Bänden / A Catalogue Raisonné in Six Volumes (Leipzig: Seemann, 2009– ), 1: Metallkunst / Metalwork. A second volume on textiles is anticipated before the end of 2013.

[44] Surprisingly, another Antwerp painter, Charles Verlat (1824–1890), was given an important exhibition in this building in 1878. Carl Ruland (1834–1907), former librarian to Prince Albert of Sachsen-Coburg-Gotha at Windsor, became director of the Grand Ducal Museum in the early 1870s; beyond Raphael and Michelangelo, he took an interest in contemporary artists. Verlat had been summoned to Weimar in 1869 by Grand Duke Carl Alexander to teach in the Kunstschule. Apparently a victim of conflicts as serious as those encountered by van de Velde in Weimar, Verlat returned to Antwerp in 1873 to teach at the academy; there he became van de Velde’s professor in the early 1880s. See Alexander Rosenbaum, “‘Neues schönes Kunst-Asyl’: Die Gründung des Großherzoglichen Museums,” in Hellmut Th. Seemann and Thorsten Falk, eds., Das Zeitalter der Enkel: Kulturpolitik un Klassikrezeption unter Carl Alexander, Klassik Stiftung Weimar Jahrbuch 2010 (Göttingen: Wallstein, 2010), 283–92. Gerda Wendermann also discusses Verlat in her essay ”Zwischen Realismus und Neoimpressionismus: Henry van de Velde’s Anfänge als Maler,” in Prophet des Neuen Stil (as in note 24), 105.

[45] Henry van de Velde, Kunstgewerbliche Laienpredigten (Leipzig: Seemann, 1902), No. 34, in the final chapter, “Prinzipielle Erklärungen,” 188.

[46] According to Antje Neumann in her deliciously detailed catalogue essay on metalwork, at least ten examples of the candelabras were made, five of which are in museum collections (248). Neumann quotes Kessler’s complaint in a letter to von Bodenhausen (April 7, 1900) about the exorbitant price van de Velde charged him for the pair : “901 francs!!!!” (249, note 5).

[47] A cycle of sixteen wax and chalk wall paintings on the Odyssey (c. 1861) by Friedrich Preller the Elder gave the gallery its name. The windows face the beginning of Carl-August-Allee, the broad street leading straight to the railway station. The house at No. 9 was the first on the new street. Built around 1865, it belonged to the architect Carl Stegmann , building supervisor for the Czech architect Josef Pízek during construction of the Grand Ducal Museum (now the Neues Museum). A terracotta frieze of putti on three sides of the house is a humorous tribute to the building of the museum. In 1870 Stegmann left Weimar to become the director of the new Gewerbemuseum, Nuremberg.

[48] As Föhl wrote in his wall text for Kessler’s dinner table, “After ten years of preparation, Craig finally illustrated an opulent collector’s edition of Hamlet published [in 1929] by Kessler’s Cranach Presse with his innovative, technically complex woodcuts. Together both succeeded in producing one of the most stunning books of the 20th century.”

[49] In his wall text, Fohl also quoted Kessler’s diary entry of December 6, 1901, when the Dehmels and Edvard Munch dined with him in Berlin: “She wore a strangely cut, dark, beautiful velvet dress, which in combination with her tanned face and curly, black hair gave her a foreign-looking appearance. And this accompanied by Dehmel’s own extremely dynamic, dark, Slavic physiognomy. Most of the time he wears a mask, an expression of mocking tenderness, which I attribute to his fidgety nervousness. A wonderful couple together.”

[50] The man who would have occupied van de Velde’s new office, the director of the Grand Ducal Museum in 1908, was the art historian Karl Koetschau. His predecessor, Carl Ruland, had been appointed by the late Grand Duke Carl Alexander and lost traction after 1901 under his grandson Wilhelm Ernst. Ruland resigned in 1906 in fierce opposition to an order to clear out his museum to make room for the Third Exhibition of the Deutscher Künstlerbund, a project initiated by Kessler, but too extensive for his museum on the Karlsplatz. Two months later Kessler had to resign as a result of the Rodin drawings scandal. Koetschau succeeded both of them; he was placed in charge of the older museum (Ruland’s museum, now the Neues Museum), as well as the museum on the Karlsplatz. His predecessor Kessler, a Prussian officer, had come close to challenging the septuagenarians Ruland and Hermann Behmer, a painter who had published a critical letter to the editor on the Rodin drawings, to duels; see Föhl 2003 (as in note 35), 172. Director Koetschau, still young (he was born in 1868, the same year as Kessler), but conscious perhaps of the perils of Weimar’s cultural battlefield, commissioned van de Velde to design his grave. Koetschau, however, never used his handsome travertine Egyptian-style tomb; it stands—urgently in need of preservation measures—not far from the Ducal Vault in the main cemetery in Weimar. Koetschau left Weimar in 1909 to direct a larger museum in Berlin and later another in Düsseldorf, where he died peacefully in 1949.

[51] Debora L. Silverman investigates van de Velde’s installation of the Export Room for the 1897 Tervuren Congo Exhibition in her fascinating new look at the artist in the series published in West 86th, “Art Nouveau, Art of Darkness: African Lineages of Belgian Modernism,” Part I, 18:2 (Fall–Winter 2011), 130–81; Part II, 19:2 (Fall-Winter 2012), 175–95; and Part III, 20:1 (Spring-Summer 2013), 3–61, especially 8–13.