Darmstadts Mathildenhöhe: a perfect Art Nouveau hotspot

8 July 2019 16:52
Together with cities like Brussels, Paris, Vienna, Glasgow and Barcelona, Germany's Darmstadt is rightly considered a jewel for the Jugendstil. With the summer holiday ahead, Art Deco Webstore tips Darmstadt - and in particular Mathildenhöhe - as the ultimate destination for art and architecture lovers. Read and write along for the why and the most beautiful hotspots!

Old artists' colony

Darmstadt is located in the German state of Hessen, just south of Frankfurt. The city has a cozy and attractive center, with many shops. The Mathildenhöhe hill is an eye-catcher, because the Art Nouveau artists' colony of Darmstadt settled here between 1899 and 1914, at the invitation of art lover and grand duke Ernst Lodewijk of Hessen-Darmstadt. The goal was to become a literal and figurative highlight for modern architecture and the art world: the innovative artists, architects and designers were committed to an environment where art was connected to life. Folk art that from then on could be accessible to everyone.

A postcard from Darmstadt from circa 1900. Image: Wikimedia Commons

A postcard from Darmstadt from circa 1900.

Villas and Hochzeitsturm

An important artist who has designed and settled a lot on the Mathildenhöhe is the Viennese architect Joseph Maria Olbrich (1867-1908). The ambitious Olbrich described to the Grand Duke that the artists' colony had to become "a complete city", with "a temple in a sacred forest" as its center. This "temple" eventually became the Künstlerhaus, which was built The mosaic tableau by Friedrich Wilhelm Kleukens. Image: Art Deco Webstoretogether with a number of villas between 1899 and 1901. Later this building, which was equipped with all comforts so that the artists could work in it, was renamed the Ernst Lodewijkhuis. Olbrich also designed the famous Hochzeitsturm (1906-1908), which was given to the Grand Duke in honor of his second marriage. The 48.5 meter high wedding tower is decorated with the impressive mosaic "The Kiss" by Friedrich Wilhelm Kleukens. The tower, with the recognizable and graceful five arches, became an icon of the artists' colony and is still beautiful to see.

The Blue Wonder

Peter Behrens' villa on the Mathildenhöhe. Image: WikipediaPeter Behrens (1899-1903) was one of the other residents of the colony. In 1898 he designed, among other things, the famous woodcut The Kiss, which can be found on the Art Deco Web Store gift vouchers. The famous painter, designer and architect from Hamburg designed his house himself. He was inspired by Art Nouveau artists Henry van de Velde and Charles Rennie Mackintosh. The villa was popularly called the Blue Wonder. And the house is certainly amazing, with high arches in the facades and ornamentless plaster surfaces. The glazed bricks finish it off.

Exhibitions KKD

The colony was inaugurated in 1901, together with the first exhibition of the Künstlerkolonie Darmstadt (KKD). Michel Didier writes in the magazine Origine about the Mathildehöhe, that the motto of the exhibition was "a document deutscher Kunst". Inspired by the English Arts and Crafts movement, Hessian craftsmen worked together on total artworks and a center of modern crafts. The KKD had four building exhibitions, until the Darmstadter Sezession was founded in 1919. Duke Ernst Ludwig died in 1937. During the Second World War, bombing destroyed a large part of the city, but fortunately many things remained intact on Mathildenhöhe, including six artists' houses. The prototype of modern building exhibitions can still be admired. Just like the Russian chapel situated on the hill (as pictured above), the trees and statues on the Platanenhain and the Künstlerkolonie museum.

A serie of statues on the Platanenhain. Image: Wikipedia One of the statues in the park on the Mathildenhöhe. Image: Art Deco Webstore

A serie of statues on the Platanenhain and a statue in the parc on the on the Mathildenhöhe. 

Darmstadt and Art Deco Web Store

Is a trip to Darmstadt not (yet) possible but do you want to taste the atmosphere of the city? In our special category you can find beautiful articles that originate in Darmstadt or are inspired by various art objects. It is also possible to make an appointment to visit our showroom. Art Deco Web Store is thé address for Art Nouveau and applied art. From The Kiss to one of our stylish furniture and home accessories: furniture, gifts and decorations, home accessories, jewelry and lighting articles that tell a story and leave a mark on the interior.

Images: The Blue Art Barn/Art Deco Webstore, Wikimedia Commons. Main picture: Wikipedia.