Oldenburg: NP, ND. Original artwork. Loose leaf. Unique collection of 44 fully rendered aquarelles for stained glass windows, with 21 signed or initialed by the artist and dated, 5 armorial blueprints, sketch and gouache, 2 original paintings, 12 documents (letters, exhibition catalogues, celebratory programs from various decorative arts associations), and 79 original silver gelatin and albumen prints from the lives of German ornamental painter and stained glass designer Heinrich Friedrich Johann Adels (1871-1955), and his father Friedrich Wilhelm (1845-1914).
Heinrich Adels' father - Friedrich Wilhelm Adels - was a renowned painter from Oldenburg where he taught art to students such as Johannes von Wicht (1888-1970) who, later on, became a successful artist in the United States. Together with Wilhelm Mohrmann (also a native of Oldenburg), Friedrich Wilhelm Adels was involved in the painted decorations of the somptuous Grand Ducal Court Theatre built by architect Gerhard Schnitger (1841-1917).
His son Heinrich Adels attended the Kunstgewerbeschule (School of Arts and Crafts) in Düsseldorf where he earned high honors.
Following this, he applied to study at the Royal Kunstgewerbemuseum in Berlin where he was accepted. Among his teachers were Otto Lessing (1846-1912), a prominent German Historicist sculptor whose work largely shaped the appearance of Berlin in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and professor Ernst Ewald* (1836-1904). Heinrich Adels won a 1st and a 2nd prize in the 1891/1892 academic year.
After graduation, he settled in Munich until 1893, and came back to his beloved Oldenburg as a talented painter, graphic and stained glass artist.
A preeminent member of the Oldenburger Kunstverein, Adels took part in numerous artistic projects, predominently murals and stained-glass windows for private and commercial installations.
During WWI, he was wounded at the front in 1915, and returned to Oldenburg after his demobilisation. There, he resumed his artistic activities which were soon to be caught up in the turmoil of economic crisis following Germany's defeat.
He remained in Oldenburg until his death in 1955, at the age of 84.
Today, only a few of his spectacular stained-glass windows remain in some of the oldest houses of his native city.
1) The aquarelles:
The 44 aquarelles of stained glass designs predominantly include both the fin-de-siècle and art nouveau (Jugendstil) styles, and are dated from 1905 to 1929 (mainly 1905 to 1912). They display abstract, geometric, floral, fruits, sceneries, a monumental fountain, and other patterns, including armorials with crowns, crosses, lions, eagles, swords, etc..
Five of the aquarelles are mounted on heavy cardstock, and 21 are signed or initialed by the artist, and dated.
Their size varies from 5 1/4 x 3 1/2" to 16 x 13".
2) The armorials:
A series of 3 armorial blueprints on transparent paper, one sketch in pencil, and one gouache on heavy cardstock.
Two of the three blueprints are for the execution of the same coat of arms "Bulling 1321." The remaining blueprint seems to have been for the execution of the armorial handpainted in gouache.
The striking 8 x 7 1/2" gouache is on a 10 1/4 x 10 1/4" heavy cardstock.
The 8 1/4 x 7 1/4" original sketch in pencil is on a 13 x 9 3/4" heavy cardstock.
These blueprints and gouache are attributed to Heinrich Friedrich Johann Adels.
3) The original paintings:
- An 8 x 13 1/2" gouache on wooden board. The painting is unsigned and depicts a sad looking tree apparently long dead and weathered by the years. A few patches of green in the background are the only signs of a nature not completely dead. During our research, we have been unable to determine if this painting was executed by Heinrich Adels or his father.
- A 11 1/4 X 14 3/4" oil on canvas being a close-up of a woman sleeping. Only her face, her right arm tucked behind her head, and the upper part of her chest are visible. The black, white and grey colors used for this painting create a pale luminosity and a variety of shadows suggesting that the unknown woman is engaged in a peaceful and deep sleep. Like the first one, this painting is not signed, therefore making it impossible to determine whom of the son or the father executed it. Some foxing to painting, and sporadic molding at verso of canvas (not affecting painting).
4) The documents:
- A 11 1/4 x 8 3/4 manuscript letter dated April 28, 1875 from F. Hartmann of the Atelier für Zimmerdecoration in Berlin, to Friedrich Wilhelm Adels. The letter is partly chipped at upper fore-edge, thus affecting lettering.
- A folded 17 3/4 x 5 3/4" printed leaf with a poem titled "Is nich!" and dated 1875.
- A four-page 13 x 8 1/4" mimeograph document titled "Lieber zum Polterabend von Fraulein Johanne Gramberg und Herrn Carl Wiese," a collection of seven amusing songs for the wedding of Johanne Gramberg and Carl Wiese. The document is slightly foxed along edges.
- A 13 1/8 x 8 1/2" stencil poem on one sheet titled "Fritzchen: Das Schreckenskind der Armina ... von Sudermann" (Fritzchen: Armina's horror child)
- A fully illustrated 20-page humorous brochure (16 1/2 x 10 3/4") from a decorative arts association titled "Vereinsabend. Winter 82-83 gesammelt von Max Mir" (Evening Club. Winter 82-83 collected by Max Mir).
- A fully illustrated 4-page maquette (16 1/4 x 10 1/2") titled "Saure Turken frohe Fest, Karlsruhe, April 1883. Verlag der Umkasse des Vereins Bildender Künstler" (Sour Turks, happy festivities, Karlsruhe, April 1883. Edited by the Association of Artists). The front cover is an original drawing by P. Borgmann. The second illustration (at verso of front cover) is also by P. Borgmann. The third and last illustration is unsigned and is for the "Kuenstler-Verein Karlsruhe. Damen-Abend, Januar 1883."
- The first leaf of the "Fest Zeitung 1885" featuring an allegorical ink illustration by L. Mauss on cover, and four printed songs at verso: "Lieder zum Jahresfest des Verbandes der Studirenden am Kunstgewerbe-Museum. Sonnabend, den 21. Februar 1885, in der Tonhalle, Friedrichstr. 112" (Songs for the annual festival of the association of students at the Kunstgewerbemuseum. Saturday, February 21, 1885, at 112 Friedrichstrasse (Berlin)). This document has the stamp of the Kunstgewerbemuseum at lower right corner of front cover.
- A printed 4-page program for the "1. Stiftungs-Fest am 18. November 1885" of the "Decorationsmaler-, Glaser- und Anstreicher-Innung zu Düsseldorf" (The first annual celebration of the creation of the Düsseldorf's Guild of decorative artists, glass painters, and painters, held on November 18, 1885).
- A 9 x 5 3/4" printed leaf with a poem titled "Zum Festbankett am 24. Oktober 1887."
- A 8 1/4 X 3 3/4" illustrated card titled "Eintritts Karte Feier des zehnjährigen Stiftungsfestes des Verbandes der Studierenden des Königl. Kunstgewerbemuseums zu Berlin am 8. Dez. 1888" (Entrance ticket for the celebration of the tenth anniversary of the foundation of the association of students of the Royal Kunstgewerbemuseum in Berlin, on Dec. 8, 1888). The Kunstgewerbemuseum is still today an internationally important museum of the decorative arts in Berlin. This document has the partial stamp of the Kunstgewerbemuseum at verso.
- A fully illustrated 20-page program (12 x 9") titled "Bier Postille. 21. Februar 1890." The program is profusely illustrated throughout and combines humorous texts and illustrations for the annual festival of the association of students at the Kunstgewerbemuseum.
- A four-page 13 1/8 x 8 1/2" stencil humorous text (in Suetterlin script) and illustrations dated December 15, 1898.
5) The Photographs:
A delightful collection of 79 original photographs (albumen and silver gelatin prints) of family life and events pertaining to the Adels family.
The first five photographs are albumen prints:
- A 6 1/2 x 4 1/4" cabinet portrait of Heinrich Adels' father taken in Oldenburg by H. Schröder.
- A 8 1/2 X 7 1/2" larger albumen print of the same portrait of H. Adels' father pasted onto a 12 1/2 x 9 3/4" heavy cardstock.
- Two identical 6 1/2 x 4 1/4" cabinet portraits of Heinrich Adels by H. Nebbien (with original signature of the photographer at verso).
- A 8 7/8 X 6" studio portrait of an older Mr. and Mrs. Heinrich Wilhelm Adels taken in Oldenburg by J. B. Feisner. The albumen print is mounted onto a 12 1/8 x 9 1/2" heavy cardstock.
Among the remaining photographs are a 6 3/4 X 9 1/8" silver gelatin depicting Heinrich Adels among his regiment during WWI (the photograph is dated 1916); 5 mounted photographs depicting the young Heinrich Adels couple with their infant daughter and son; 2 partly damaged photographs of the couple's daughter at a very young age; one photograph of a painting being an autoportrait of Heinrich Adels; a photograph depicting the couple's living room adorned with a painting (probably by Heinrich).
The collection also includes 27 amusing photographs depicting a day at the beach spent by the Adels family in the German island of Borkum (Lower Saxony) at the turn of the century. The women featured in the pictures are all fully and elegantly dressed! Only the children are seen playing in lighter and more comfortable outfits.
The remaining 36 photographs are mounted in three Art Nouveau photo albums (one measuring 5 x 6 1/4", and the two others 5 x 7 1/4"), and depict scenes of Heinrich Adels' family life. His two children are depicted as babies and young adults.
This unique collection sheds a valuable light on the artistic world of Wilhelminian Germany. A world on the verge of collapsing with the gathering storm of WWI.
- For more information on Friedrich Wilhelm Adels and Heinrich Friedrich Johann Adels, see Jürgen Derschewsky's blog of biographies of Oldenburg artists at: www.derschy.de/Biografien/A-B. g- to vg. Item #43094
* Among Ernst Ewald's major works are paintings in the library of the Berlin Town Hall, scenes from the Nibelungenleid in the Querhalle (Cross Hall) of the National Gallery and windows in the Martin-Gropius-Bau. In 1871, he designed the interiors for the reconstruction of the Cochem Imperial Castle and, from 1888 to 1890, did mosaic designs for the Kaiser Friedrich Mausoleum in Potsdam. Ewald had worked as an artistic advisor for Friedrich when he was Crown Prince and gave drawing lessons to his sons, Prince Wilhelm (who would become Emperor Wilhelm II) and Prince Henry. Ewald's work was based on classical models and a desire to preserve historical forms and techniques.