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Muthesius, Hermann

Muthesius, Hermann (1861–1927). Attaché at the Imperial German Embassy, London (1896–1903), he surveyed British architecture and design on behalf of the German Government, and his work was brought out as Die Englische Baukunst der Gegenwart (English Architecture Now—1900–2) and Die Neuere Kirchliche Baukunst in England (New Church Architecture in England–1903) by Wasmuth, the German publishers of F. L. Wright's work. His greatest contribution was Das Englische Haus (The English House—1904–5), which described elements, history, plans, styles, and types of English domestic architecture, as well as publicizing works by many architects and extolling the Arts-and-Crafts movement. The book had a profound influence on Continental (especially German) domestic architecture, and the ‘English style’ for houses became as fashionable as the English landscaped park had been for the C18 garden. Furthermore, Muthesius's admiration for the simplicity and utility of English domestic buildings and artefacts led to the concept of Sachlichkeit (objectivity) and to the foundation of the Deutscher Werkbund (1907). By 1914 Muthesius (who had been a powerful official in the Prussian Government for at least a decade, and was to remain influential until his death) was advocating mass-production, standardization, and the development of industrialization for architecture, notions which were completely the opposite of the Arts-and-Crafts position: his stance was opposed by van de Velde and others, but became an article of faith in the 1920s among those who were to be the protagonists of the Modern Movement.

Muthesius practised as an architect. His early houses in the Berlin suburbs were seen as ‘in the English country-house style’, even though they looked far more German than English: among his works may be cited the Freudenberg House, Nikolassee (on a butterfly-plan reminiscent of Prior's designs), the Bernhard House, Grunewald, the Breul House, again in Grunewald, the Soetbeer House, Nikolassee, the Koch and Velsen Houses, Zehlendorf-West, and the Neuhaus House, Dahlem. He also designed the Stave House, Lübeck, and summerhouses, Travemünde. All these were designed and built 1904–9, and were set in carefully thought-out gardens. He published some of his own work in Landhaus und Garten (Villa and Garden—1910) and Die Schöne Wohnung (The Dwelling Beautiful—1922, 1926).

Bibliography

Frampton (1980);
H. Muthesius (1901–2, 1902, 1903, 1979);
H. Muthesius (ed.) (1910);
F. Roth (200l);
Uwe Schneider (2000)

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