Attendees - Darmstadt - History of Mathilda Heights


Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig (25. 11. 1868 - 9. 10. 1937) established the "Artisans Colony" on the Mathilda Heights in 1899. He was a lover of fine arts and also supported artisans. His special interest lay in the british arts and crafts movement. By creating an artisans colony peopled with artisans and craftsmen of different trades, such as painters, sculptors and goldsmiths, he created an effective focal point for a new style of art that was called Jugendstil in Germany, and Art Nouveau in other countries. For those interested in movies, the art of the Elves in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings movies was heavily inspired by this style, as well.

The hill was granted to the artisans and craftsmen, who were paid for their work and given a space for designing and building (or having built) their own houses. Until 1923, 23 artisans or craftsmen worked around the Mathilda Heights on their ideas for new designs for buildings and decorations. This included architects, interior decorators, painters, graphic designers, sculptors, and applied artisans, many of which also lived on or around the Mathilda Heights. Among the best known artisans were Joseph Maria Olbrich (who also designed the exhibition halls of the Vienna Secession), Albin Müller and Peter Behrens.

The Grand Duke placed great emphasis on having the actual works of art presented to his population, leading to four large exhibitions in 1901, 1904, 1908 and 1914, the last of which was cut short by the outbreak of World War I.

The hill itself is named after Mathilde Caroline (30. 8. 1813-25. 5. 1862), the oldest daughter of King Ludwig I of Bavaria and wife to Grand Duke Ludwig III.

Let us now continue to look at some of the sights!

© Dr. Guido Roessling 2018