Friday, 23 November 2012

Karl Schmoll von Eisenwerth

Karl Schmoll von Eisenwerth

1879 Vienna– 1948 Bad Gastein
Austrian-German Jugendstill, Arts and Crafts designer, painter, poster designer, ex-libris maker and graphic artist.

Karl Schmoll von Eisenwert was an influential Jugenstil artist and I wonder why so few examples of his art are to be discovered on the Internet. Even the Wikipedia entry is very basic. There are just a few examples, like this 1902 "Im Winde" that is as iconic for the München School of Art and Jugenstil as his Vienna colleague Max Kurzweil’s (1867-1916) 1904 “der Polster” (below) was for the Austrian counterpart the Seccesion and Wiener Werkstatt.  But luckily I’ve found some more examples of Schmoll’s work in books and old catalogues.

The son of an engineer, he visited Münchens Akademie für Bildende Künste in 1899-1901 and shortly after became a teacher for the graphic arts and was appointed professor in what became known as Arts and Crafts and Applied Art in Stuttgart in 1907. While in München he was accompanied by Martha Wenzel, Martha Kunz, Ernst Neumann (see before post).
I discovered Schmoll embrased early photography and made it to use with different technigues, like sketching aid and also in designing etchings, lithographs and woodblock prints. He is one of the few artists experimenting with algraphy, producing etchings using alluminium plates which gives the very “soft” appearance of his much of his work. 

Often the same designs can be found in paint, pastel, etching and woodblockprint.

His fame was made when this iconic painting "der Spaziergang" (the Walk) which also exists in print (and was on Ebay recently) was bought by a rich industrial in 1907 and donated to the newly build Kunsthalle. It is said to represent the three stages of life, youth, middle age and old age. But also a political statement and prophetic view on Germany, the lady in white representing the new Germany arising. It was made after a 1904 photograph of his aunt Maria leading the way, his wife Sophie in the white dress and brother Willy Reynier closing.

Above "am Brunnen" (at the Well) and I really would like to discover the color version of similar 1905 designs Waldritt (Forest ride) and das Weisse Kleid (The White Dress) prints. 

They all have, one more than the other, the bewildering birds-eye view perspective. Where the onlooker is placed "on a branch" looking both down and to the horizon. I think this “trick”, which makes it necessary to change the angle of view to fathom the complexity of the composition is of Japanese origin. It was lend by John Edgar Platt (1886-1967) using it reversely, looking up (left). 

The earliest and by far the strongest is possibly by knighted Sir Lawrence Adema-Tadema (1836-1912), British and Frisian. He was born not 20 miles from where I live in nearby Dronrijp (right) I am proud to say.
Views from the balcony of a theater, concert hall or circus are a more human  position and location for applying this view. Edgar Degas (1834-1917 knew. But the most spectacular, impossible and dramatic example I know is by Salvador Dali (1904-1989) using the viewpoint of the Father overlooking his creation and the misery put on his Son in St. John of the Cross, created in 1951.

Felix Valloton (1865-1925) probably was the earliest painter-printmaker to use it in “The red ball” and even overseas, in 1912, printmaker Mabel Royds (1874-1941) saw the possibilities placing herself among the (also chestnut) branches overlooking "the Court'.

All pictures borrowed freely from the Internet for friendly and non commercial use only.


  1. Hi Gerrie,

    Algraphy is a new technique to me. I see online that it is still occasionally used. Was it very common among woodcut artists, do you think? I see how it softens the images. the second
    Im Winde" - do you think that is algraphy? It's lovely. Thanks for new information.


    1. I really wouldn't know Karen about the usage. I stumbled over this technique reading about Schmoll. Aquatint etching also produces a (such) soft appearance. I don't know of many woodblock artists who where trained in making etchings too. I belief he was among the pioneers in Modern printmaking.

    2. Just see today [searching Schmoll v Eisenwerth] this question about Algraphy and well: what I know as 'sort of' Whistlerian and collecting and researching Etching Revival and 'all' around it + coming from Holland + knowing and collecting a Dutch friend of Whistler called Charles Storm van 's Gravesande [difficult to recognize his name, signature and initials on prints and searching internet] .. and well: as far as I know he is the man who 'invented' it: an aluminium plate as alternative printing medium as an efficient substitute for the heavy lithographic stone! There has been an article in "The Studio" Volume 11 Issue 54 of september 1897 about this. Charles Storm vG and as I know also Zilcken and Witsen [both Dutch etchers and lithho-makers] have made 'algrahies' by the end of the 19s .. and so on! And - having been in de 60s-90s in the printing business - thin aluminium plates have been used a long time in printing because of 'water/ink-contraeffect' of aluminium [just like the Senefelder litho-stone] ..
      Anybody who like to hear or know more? .. please contact me: hans horsten / holland /

    3. Thank you, dank je Hans, for explaining the process for us.