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Henry van de Velde’s Study in Haus Hohe Pappeln Restored

  • 1) Henry and Maria van de Velde with their children in the garden at the Haus Hohe Pappeln
    Photo by Louis Held, 1912. Image credit: Klassik Stiftung Weimar, catalogue raisonné of works by Henry van de Velde © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016
  • 2) South side of the Haus Hohe Pappeln. Photo by Jens Hauspurg, 2011. Image credit: Klassik Stiftung Weimar, photo archive © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016
  • 3) Henry van de Velde in his study. Photo by Louis Held, 1909. Image credit: Klassik Stiftung Weimar, catalogue raisonné of works by Henry van de Velde © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016
  • 4) The study as it appeared between 2003 and 2015. Photo by Alexander Burzik, 2006. Image credit: Klassik Stiftung Weimar, photo archive © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016
  • 5) The study after restoration – view to the northeast. Photo by Alexander Burzik, 2016. Image credit: Klassik Stiftung Weimar, photo archive © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016
  • 6) The study after restoration – view to the southeast. Photo by Alexander Burzik, 2016. Image credit: Klassik Stiftung Weimar, photo archive © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016
  • 7) The study after restoration – view to the south. Photo by Alexander Burzik, 2016. Image credit: Klassik Stiftung Weimar, photo archive © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016
  • 8) The study after restoration – view to the west. Photo by Alexander Burzik, 2016. Image credit: Klassik Stiftung Weimar, photo archive © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016
  • 9) The study after restoration – view to the northwest. Photo by Alexander Burzik, 2016. Image credit: Klassik Stiftung Weimar, photo archive © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016
  • 10) The study – view to the northwest. Photo by Louis Held, after 1913. Image credit: Klassik Stiftung Weimar, catalogue raisonné of works by Henry van de Velde © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016
  • 1) Henry and Maria van de Velde with their children in the garden at the Haus Hohe Pappeln
    Photo by Louis Held, 1912. Image credit: Klassik Stiftung Weimar, catalogue raisonné of works by Henry van de Velde © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016
  • 2) South side of the Haus Hohe Pappeln. Photo by Jens Hauspurg, 2011. Image credit: Klassik Stiftung Weimar, photo archive © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016
  • 3) Henry van de Velde in his study. Photo by Louis Held, 1909. Image credit: Klassik Stiftung Weimar, catalogue raisonné of works by Henry van de Velde © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016
  • 4) The study as it appeared between 2003 and 2015. Photo by Alexander Burzik, 2006. Image credit: Klassik Stiftung Weimar, photo archive © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016
  • 5) The study after restoration – view to the northeast. Photo by Alexander Burzik, 2016. Image credit: Klassik Stiftung Weimar, photo archive © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016
  • 6) The study after restoration – view to the southeast. Photo by Alexander Burzik, 2016. Image credit: Klassik Stiftung Weimar, photo archive © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016
  • 7) The study after restoration – view to the south. Photo by Alexander Burzik, 2016. Image credit: Klassik Stiftung Weimar, photo archive © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016
  • 8) The study after restoration – view to the west. Photo by Alexander Burzik, 2016. Image credit: Klassik Stiftung Weimar, photo archive © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016
  • 9) The study after restoration – view to the northwest. Photo by Alexander Burzik, 2016. Image credit: Klassik Stiftung Weimar, photo archive © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016
  • 10) The study – view to the northwest. Photo by Louis Held, after 1913. Image credit: Klassik Stiftung Weimar, catalogue raisonné of works by Henry van de Velde © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016

History of the house
The Belgian art reformer Henry van de Velde (1863–1957) moved to Weimar from Berlin in 1902 to serve as artistic advisor for trade and industry in Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach at the behest of the Grand Duke. In order to acquaint the younger generation with the “new style”, he founded the School of Arts and Crafts, which later became the Bauhaus in 1919. As avid supporters of the Lebensreform movement, Henry van de Velde and his wife Maria made a conscious decision to live in the country. With help from their friends, they purchased some property on the outskirts of Weimar where they hoped their five children could grow up free of urban and social constraints, surrounded by light, air and nature. In 1907 Henry van de Velde designed his family’s home, which he endearingly called the 'Haus unter den Hohen Pappeln' after the tall poplar trees around the property (ill. 1, 2). In 1908 his family moved into the architectural Gesamtkunstwerk, every detail of which was designed by Van de Velde, from the picture frames to the ceiling lamps.
2)	South side of the Haus Hohe Pappeln. Photo by Jens Hauspurg, 2011. Image credit: Klassik Stiftung Weimar, photo archive © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016
2) South side of the Haus Hohe Pappeln. Photo by Jens Hauspurg, 2011. Image credit: Klassik Stiftung Weimar, photo archive © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016


The property was sold in 1919 after the family moved away to Switzerland, and remained in the possession of the State Protestant Church of Thuringia for most of the time since. In 2003 the Klassik Stiftung Weimar was permitted to lease the building and open the rooms to visitors. The Stiftung eventually purchased it in 2012 with the goal of presenting the artist’s house as a Gesamtkunstwerk. Although the representative rooms on the ground floor had been renovated in the 1990s for private tenants by the State Protestant Church, they didn’t quite reflect their original condition with their masterful colour scheme and material composition and the spatially harmonious layout of the rooms. Consequently, the Klassik Stiftung Weimar decided to begin with the careful restoration of the rooms’ structural elements.

Restoration of the study
Henry van de Velde had originally installed built-in closets and shelving on the walls of his study. These, along with the fabric wall-covering in the window recess, were later removed by the future tenants (ill. 3). Fortunately, the original doors, window frames, windowsills and parquet flooring were still intact. The Klassik Stiftung Weimar presented stylistically matching furniture, yet the study - stripped of the essential details of its interior design – appeared foreign in the coherently designed room alignment of the ground floor (ill. 4).
3)	Henry van de Velde in his study. Photo by Louis Held, 1909. Image credit: Klassik Stiftung Weimar, catalogue raisonné of works by Henry van de Velde © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016
3) Henry van de Velde in his study. Photo by Louis Held, 1909. Image credit: Klassik Stiftung Weimar, catalogue raisonné of works by Henry van de Velde © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016


4)	The study as it appeared between 2003 and 2015. Photo by Alexander Burzik, 2006. Image credit: Klassik Stiftung Weimar, photo archive © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016
4) The study as it appeared between 2003 and 2015. Photo by Alexander Burzik, 2006. Image credit: Klassik Stiftung Weimar, photo archive © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016


The built-in closets, including the two integrated desks, the radiator covers and the sofa against the wall, were added during the course of restoration (ill. 5-10). Replicas of the metal furnishings were also crafted, such as knobs, picture hooks and ornamental elements in the radiator covers. Experts were able to replicate the wall covering using the upholstery and decorative fabric “Tula” as a model.
5)	The study after restoration – view to the northeast. Photo by Alexander Burzik, 2016. Image credit: Klassik Stiftung Weimar, photo archive © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016
5) The study after restoration – view to the northeast. Photo by Alexander Burzik, 2016. Image credit: Klassik Stiftung Weimar, photo archive © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016


6)	The study after restoration – view to the southeast. Photo by Alexander Burzik, 2016. Image credit: Klassik Stiftung Weimar, photo archive © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016
6) The study after restoration – view to the southeast. Photo by Alexander Burzik, 2016. Image credit: Klassik Stiftung Weimar, photo archive © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016


7)	The study after restoration – view to the south. Photo by Alexander Burzik, 2016. Image credit: Klassik Stiftung Weimar, photo archive © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016
7) The study after restoration – view to the south. Photo by Alexander Burzik, 2016. Image credit: Klassik Stiftung Weimar, photo archive © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016


8)	The study after restoration – view to the west. Photo by Alexander Burzik, 2016. Image credit: Klassik Stiftung Weimar, photo archive © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016
8) The study after restoration – view to the west. Photo by Alexander Burzik, 2016. Image credit: Klassik Stiftung Weimar, photo archive © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016


9)	The study after restoration – view to the northwest. Photo by Alexander Burzik, 2016. Image credit: Klassik Stiftung Weimar, photo archive © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016
9) The study after restoration – view to the northwest. Photo by Alexander Burzik, 2016. Image credit: Klassik Stiftung Weimar, photo archive © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016


10)	The study – view to the northwest. Photo by Louis Held, after 1913. Image credit: Klassik Stiftung Weimar, catalogue raisonné of works by Henry van de Velde © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016<br/>
10) The study – view to the northwest. Photo by Louis Held, after 1913. Image credit: Klassik Stiftung Weimar, catalogue raisonné of works by Henry van de Velde © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016


Two criteria were central in the restoration of the room. First, the aim was not to create a backdrop, but rather meet the standards of Henry van de Velde’s design concept as closely as possible. As a result, all of the additions are fully functional and the sophisticated rotating drawers and radiator covers can be presented to visitors during guided tours. The second important criterion was to ensure the transparency of the restoration measures. Visitors are informed about the differences between the original and restored study via a handout and the audio guide. The conservators chose not to reconstruct the fireplace and have indicated its former location accordingly. Furthermore, new wooden elements have not been treated to resemble the original pieces so as not to artificially “deceive” the public. Fortunately, the new and original elements harmonise so well that they create an impression of a coherent whole.

In addition to using the original existing furnishings, the conservators based their plans on the furniture layout from 1910, historic photos of the room, reports by contemporary witnesses, building archaeological finds and scientific investigation. The analysis of the preserved window frames and door panels revealed a teak veneer with a matte finish of shellac, beeswax and rosin. With regard to the treatment of the wood, the team decided to apply a modern, natural-based seal since reproducing the original mixture would have been too costly. In cases when the historic photos couldn’t answer construction-related questions, e.g. with regard to the interior of the desks, the team based their plans on similar pieces of contemporary make. For example, the elegant fillet in the top-most compartment was modelled after a preserved, original furnishing at Hohenhof in Hagen. The new radiator covers are identical to those used at the Esche country estate in Lauterbach.

Determining the colour scheme of the soft furnishings posed the greatest challenge. Helene von Nostitz had described the study as “semi-darkened, inviting to concentration”. In her memoires she described only the books as being radiant with colour. The fabric and weaving technique used for the wall covering were known though various pattern repeats. However, Henry van de Velde had weavings made in several colour variations so that it was impossible to precisely determine the colour of the original fabric. Fortunately, after removing some of the more recent layers of plaster, conservators discovered the original moulding containing vestiges of dyed thread. An analysis of this thread enabled the team to determine the colour of the wall covering. As for the colour of the sofa, however, no information or references existed. The team decided to go for a subdued brownish tone. The cord upholstery was so sharply depicted in the historic photos that it was possible to derive the width of the rib by comparing it to the width of the books on the shelf above. In its finished condition, the room is now presented in the matted shades of light pink (wall), sand (wall-covering), anthracite (radiator recesses) and auburn (built-in furnishings).

Another difficult task was dealing with the structural irregularities of the room, which Henry van de Velde himself had struggled with. In a letter to his friend Harry Graf Kessler in 1908, he complained about the workers building his Haus Hohe Pappeln: “Because of poor workmanship, everyone begins things and destroys them again two or three times before they could be made perfect.” Due to the construction errors made in 1908, the carpenters today had to install a symmetrical system in a crooked room. The elements were integrated by means of a hardly noticeable shadow gap between the bookcase and plasterwork.

Furnishings
Since the measures were only limited to restoring the “structure” of the study, there were no plans to recreate the missing armchairs and tables. The pieces of furniture now on display are originals, designed by Henry van de Velde and kindly provided on loan by private collectors. The furnishings had also included an armrest chair, flower stand and table of the same or similar design. The lectern is the only piece which had originally belonged to the study over a century ago. This authentic piece of furniture was purchased from a private collection and now completes the ensemble.

When designing his various Gesamtkunstwerke, Henry van de Velde often included works of fine art. He regarded paintings and sculptures as integral to the interior design of the aesthetic whole. In his study, graphic works along with sculptures by Maillol, Claret, Kolbe and Engelmann enlivened the stringent symmetry of the bookcases. Today all of the originals are scattered around the world, but as part of the restoration efforts, the Klassik Stiftung Weimar was able to obtain one of the two Engelmann figures and the terracotta sculpture by Claret as a gift and permanent loan respectively. Kolbe’s portrait of the artist had already been in the possession of the museum.
With regard to the presentation of the books, the now lost library was not restored title for title. Rather, the volumes on display in the study date back to Van de Velde’s day. In fact, it is likely he was familiar with many of them since he knew several of the authors personally. The collection also contains several volumes, produced in the plain linen binding of the book-binding workshop of the Weimar School of Arts and Crafts.

The functional and unpretentious design of Henry van de Velde’s study in the Haus Hohe Pappeln is exemplary for creations around 1908. The linear dynamics of the room played a lesser role than in his works dating around 1900. Instead, he accentuated the structures of the materials so that they replaced ornamentation in its design-oriented function. The grain of the teakwood, the rib of the cord, the veins in the marble fireplace enhanced the room’s atmosphere with their materiality. With the restoration of the study, this simple elegance can be experienced once again. Thanks to the outstanding commitment by our team of highly specialised craftspeople and conservators, and thanks to financing provided by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media, the architectural Gesamtkunstwerk has regained an essential part of its original appearance as designed by Henry van de Velde.

Restoration: 2013-2016
Supervison: Eske Tynior, Interior Designer BDIA
Text: Sabine Walter, Klassik Stiftung Weimar
Contact: sabine.walter@klassik-stiftung.de
Translation: Robert Brambeer

Visitor information
Address
Haus Hohe Pappeln
Belvederer Allee 58
99425 Weimar

Opening hours
24th March – 29th October 2016
Tu We Th Fr Sa Su | 11:00 - 17:00

Prices
3,00 EUR / Discount 2,00 EUR / Students 1,00 EUR
Free admission for children under 16

Contact
Klassik Stiftung Weimar
Visitor information
Frauentorstraße 4
99423 Weimar
Phone: +49 (0) 3643-545-400
Fax: +49 (0) 3643-41 98 16
info@klassik-stiftung.de

Publication date 30 June 2016