In the spring of 1945, the forty-one-year-old architect Eckart Muthesius returned home to Berlin-Nicolassee to the house and studio designed some four decades earlier by his father, Hermann Muthesius (Figure 1). He discovered a platoon of Soviet soldiers using the spacious suburban house as a field hospital in the battle for Berlin, then raging some seven miles to the northeast. In an effort to clear more space for the wounded in the home's crowded attic, a Russian lieutenant supervised as a group of soldiers lugged boxes of files and papers into the courtyard formed by the house and studio wing. There they hurled the boxes onto a raging bonfire, which, unbeknownst to the Soviet soldiers, was consuming decades' worth of the architect Hermann Muthesius's construction drawings and sketchbooks, transactions with the Deutscher Werkbund, and correspondence with clients and countless figures from the early twentieth-century architecture and design world. Frantically conveying the importance of these files to the Soviet lieutenant in charge, Eckart Muthesius managed to halt the process, but not before dozens of boxes and thousands of letters and files had been destroyed. The remaining 7,000 letters and other documents, inherited by Hermann Muthesius's eldest son Güünther, passed on through Güünther's son Wolfgang to become the heart of the collection of Muthesius papers at Berlin's Werkbund Archiv, now part of a museum of material culture, in Berlin.1

Figure 1

Hermann Muthesius, House for Hermann Freudenberg, 1907––8, view of garden faççade; Hermann Muthesius's own house (1906––9) is in the background (Die Kunst 24, 1911). Both houses survive, but have been altered

Figure 1

Hermann Muthesius, House for Hermann Freudenberg, 1907––8, view of garden faççade; Hermann Muthesius's own house (1906––9) is in the background (Die Kunst 24, 1911). Both houses survive, but have been altered

These papers, publicly available since early 1995, have since offered valuable primary source material for a half-dozen recent studies of Muthesius, the Deutscher Werkbund, the German Garden City movement, and other early twentieth-century topics.2 Three recent German-language studies of Muthesius, under review here, represent a new generation of scholarship on this prolific German architect, writer, and civil servant. Apart from the availability of new primary sources, why is there this strong resurgent interest? In the canon of twentieth-century architectural history Muthesius is already well established for his activities in a variety of overlapping roles: as a Prussian civil servant responsible for applied arts education reform; as the main catalyst in the founding of the influential Werkbund in 1907; as the propagator of the English-influenced suburban country house type known as the Landhaus in a Berlin-based private practice launched in 1903; and as the author of some eighteen books, among them such influential works as Stilarchitektur und Baukunst (1902) and the landmark three-volume study for which he is best remembered, Das englische Haus (1904––5).3

One impetus for these new studies is a greater interest in general in the pre––World War I era of architectural and design culture. No longer simply mined as a source for precedents to a twentieth-century modern movement, the "long nineteenth century" (1789––1914) is being revisited by scholars interested in the great assortment of ways that architects understood themselves and their works as being modern before the twentieth century.4 Equally important, earlier scholarship on Muthesius——extending back to the very first studies of the then just emergent twentieth-century architecture——reflected prevailing fault lines in architectural culture and excluded or sharply truncated his role in the evolution of twentieth-century theory and practice. Fractious divisions date back to the heady, contentious days of Muthesius's own multifaceted career——notably including the battles for control of the Werkbund that reached a fever pitch on the eve of World War I.

Both Laurent Stalder's and Fedor Roth's books recount some of the fateful ways that these divisions reverberated in subsequent scholarship on Muthesius and twentieth-century architectural culture. They both refer to Julius Posener, an authority who received a tour of Muthesius's house with the architect while still a young architecture student. Posener went on to write several studies of the architect between 1931 and 1979, emphasizing the extent to which Muthesius's role had already been minimized or even excluded from the historiography of the modern movement, when the dust had barely settled from the upheavals of the First World War. As Stalder notes, the German critic Fritz Stahl, writing in 1921, cautioned that postwar German architects' rejection of the achievements of the Wilhelmine era represented "the greatest of all of today's many errors," and that he and the generation of his fellow Wilhelmine architects (Muthesius among them) needed to maintain their pride in prewar achievements and state proudly, "This is what we have achieved."5 The critic Walter Curt Behrendt, Muthesius's frequent correspondent before World War I, praised the architect lavishly as the "Father of the Werkbund" in a 1914 article. Yet by 1920, in Der Kampf um den Stil im Kunstgewerbe und in der Architektur, Behrendt all but ignored the architect and his achievements. Behrendt's postwar assessment steered clear of toxic Wilhelminism and Muthesius, one of its leading private and public servants, elevating instead the prewar efforts of Henry van de Velde, whom he now celebrated as "the actual driving force in the new movement" and as "the personification of the culture of the time."6 The art historian Richard Hamann may have been displaying a similar bias when, in his 1922 account of the battle over "the type" at the 1914 Werkbund conference, he recounted the events without mentioning Muthesius by name.7

By 1931, as Laurent Stalder's introduction notes, Julius Posener would decry the virtual suppression of the "entire period between 1908 and 1919" in "the official books of the (modern) movement," foremost among them Gustav-Adolf Platz's lengthy 1927 study Die Baukunst der neuesten Zeit.8 By 1932 Hitchcock and Johnson's International Style would hasten to judge the progressive output of recent decades as either "half modern" or "modern" in its construction of a new tradition of unornamented, abstract volumes, omitting consideration of architects like Muthesius along the way. In the monumental Space, Time, and Architecture (1941), Sigfried Giedion would leave German architects' work around World War I largely unexamined.

To the immensely influential German éémigréé to England, Nikolaus Pevsner, Muthesius's entire role as one of the "pioneers" in the development from a "reasonable Sachlichkeit" to a "machine style" lay in his serving as a kind of "connecting link between the English style of the nineties and Germany" (Stalder, 18). In the early literature that sought to document the supposedly clear progression toward "modern design," a "first machine age," or an "international style," as Stalder notes, no serious consideration was given to any of the concepts Muthesius introduced in his many books, numerous Werkbund articles and speeches, government applied arts reform policies, and built projects. Such concepts included his widespread popularization of the term sachlich (meaning "realist" or "objective," and arguably first introduced by Ferdinand Avenarius in his journal, Kunstwart, in 1888); zweckmäässig (purposeful, functional); or the term "building art" (Baukunst) as against a pejorative "style architecture" (Stilarchitektur).

Stalder's critique rests on solid ground, as does his book, the most recent of the three publications on Muthesius considered here. Fully crediting Posener for his "great contributions" (18) to the general understanding of Muthesius and his architecture, Stalder nevertheless notes the ways in which Posener's scholarship in fact reinforced the modern movement's quasi-fictional narrative of a radical break around World War I. While Posener championed Muthesius's accomplishments before 1914 as groundbreaking, he largely dismissed the architect's postwar accomplishments in domestic architecture as a retrograde "return to style-architecture." Stalder, at the forefront of the younger generation of Muthesius scholars, could not disagree more. Posener certainly analyzed the Landhaus as a site for the expression of a modern German middle-class dwelling culture ("büürgerliche Kultur und Wohnsitten"). However, Stalder notes, this emphasis on a culture of dwelling precluded Posener from also considering the ways in which Muthesius's written and built works reinforced one another across the totality of his career, enabling him to propagate what Stalder regards as a principled theory of domestic architectural design, or Theorie des Hausbaus, that has hitherto been ignored.

This is the heart of Stalder's book: a reevaluation of the historiography on Muthesius based on a fresh analysis of the architect's writings and buildings. These he interprets as mutually reinforcing elements in a "cultural-historical project" (kultur-geschichtlicher Entwurf) with deep nineteenth-century roots. More precisely, it is the suburban Landhaus that, in Stalder's estimation, embodies Muthesius's lifelong cultural-historical project. It is simultaneously the product of an emerging modern tradition, the realization of distinctly rational, "objective" domestic architectural conventions, and the expression of middle-class social mores in its clean, well-lighted, generous, and pragmatically planned indoor and outdoor spaces.

What is new, different, and significant about Stalder's study of Muthesius is his reasoned insistence that the architect's written and built oeuvre——the main portions of which fall between approximately 1895 and 1927——contain far more continuities than Julius Posener or anyone else previously thought. The division of the work into pre–– and post––World War I classifications by no less an authority than Posener is called into question, and in its place Stalder traces lines of thought and elements of design across these three decades that contain far more consistencies than marked differences. Stalder's ambitious reevaluation unfolds in 160 compact pages divided into three sections on "the English house," "the German house," and "the modern house." A lengthy appendix features the author's commentary and reprints original period reviews of various Muthesius publications. Stalder's account weaves together analyses of Muthesius's historical writings, his theoretical writings, and his built oeuvre in the context of the influential nineteenth-century literature upon which the architect drew. These are the building blocks from which Stalder constructs, for the first time and with well-documented evidence, the case that Muthesius's writings and buildings formed mutually reinforcing elements of this larger "cultural-historical project" (kulturgeschichtlicher Entwurf).

The strength of Stalder's case derives from his close reading——or rereading——of Muthesius's texts. To Stalder, the three-volume classic Das englische Haus is at once a history and a program for domestic architectural design. The uniqueness of this program derives from Muthesius's insistence that houses should always be considered as the products of such mutually conditioning forces as climate, geography, and socioeconomic conditions. No mere isolated assertion, Stalder's contention is that over the decades in which Muthesius published some eighteen books and hundreds of articles in arts journals and the popular press, he also contributed to a culture of architectural thought that began increasingly to consider the "milieu-dependent nature of architecture" ("Milieugebundenheit der Architektur," 23). Thus Das englische Haus (1904––5), the multinational survey Das moderne Landhaus und seine innere Ausstattung (1904), and Landhaus und Garten (1907) documented and promoted his own houses in the immediate context of educating the prewar upper-middle class. During and after World War I, by contrast, Wie baue ich mein Haus? (1915),Kleinhaus und Kleinsiedlung (1918), and Kann ich noch jetzt mein Haus bauen? (1920) would address the radically adjusted socioeconomic realities of the majority of Germans.

Muthesius's cultural-historical considerations of architecture (and artistic culture more generally), meanwhile, would be reflected in his rejection of that school of architectural history that merely celebrated the hallowed monuments of past civilizations. Muthesius instead promoted a socially and geographically conditioned interpretation of architecture in the context of the people (Volkskultur) or the nation (Kulturnation) that produced it. Such a cultural-historical method, Stalder explains, not only enabled Muthesius "to order the empirical material of history according to climatic, geographical, or social conditions," but "in turn set the stage for certain ideal-typical observations and, further, for operative application in his own architectural projects" (23).

For all of the interwar period's vaunted break with tradition and its freedom from the past, Stalder points out that the cultural-historical methodology that Muthesius adopted from nineteenth-century influences had a clear post––World War I afterlife. For example, adumbrations of the "milieu-dependent" nature of architectural argumentation, popularized by Muthesius over nearly four decades, emerge in the justifications made by Walter Gropius for introducing the prefabricated buildings of his Baukasten im Grossen work of 1925; in Hugo Hääring's considerations of "performative form" (Leistungsform) of the late 1920s; in Le Corbusier's careful explication of a "race of builders" (race des constructeurs) from Labrouste to Eiffel, and, for that matter, even in Le Corbusier's advancement of his "Five Points for a new architecture" (24). While Muthesius was not alone in considering cultural-historical conditions as determinants of architecture before World War I——one thinks of Adolf Loos or Otto Wagner, for example——there is a highly conspicuous mismatch between Muthesius's overwhelming and at times quite consequential written output and the relative lack of acknowledgment by architects and especially historians of its impact and importance.

Stalder is nowhere more thorough than in his reconstruction of the full sweep and methodology of Muthesius's Das englische Haus, building as it did on many previous studies. Far more than the nineteenth-century histories of English domestic architecture by Robert Dohme, Robert Kerr, or Jacob von Falke, on whose studies Muthesius based many of his historical observations, Muthesius's book adds dozens of contemporary houses and plans.9 Presented as the culmination of historical developments, British houses from the late 1890s and early 1900s were useful to Muthesius as proof of the German architect's familiarity with all aspects of domestic architecture. This thorough knowledge would serve Muthesius well as the architect prepared to launch his own Landhaus-based practice in Berlin in 1903, as Stalder notes.

Indebted to Gottfried Semper, Viollet-le-Duc, James Ferguson, Richard Streiter, and many others, Muthesius believed that the house plan offered the best evidence of a home's "innermost essence" (51). But unlike the influential histories by Kerr and Gotch, which offer detailed accounts of both Gothic and classical influence in the development of English domestic architecture, Muthesius insisted on considering classicism as a "foreign interloper" (54). Analyzing the early English hall and hearth as the original "Ur-cells" of English domestic architecture, Muthesius studied the way that plans evolved into what became for the German architect a largely plan-driven typology of English houses. Understanding this typology would help him to "develop the German house" in his own country, as an early reviewer, Fritz Stahl, would write, although this German house would emerge not as a copy of English form, but as an extension and elaboration of domestic design principles assimilated from Germany's Anglophone cousins.

In an important assertion that Stalder would have done well to pursue further, Muthesius's lack of emphasis on exterior form in favor of a focus on the plan is taken as a harbinger of later modernists' failures: considering the plan to be "objective" and form to be autonomous (59). Concluding with a series of commentaries on various Muthesius texts and a consideration of Muthesius's writings on the important concept of the "type," Stalder explains Muthesius's ordered "search for architectonic conventions" as a quest for consistency rather than exact conformity, for proportion rather than precise measures, for general solutions rather than prescriptive forms, and for a principled approach that allowed for consideration of a wide range of both technical and aesthetic matters (144, 151). A thoughtful argument with much to offer, Stalder's book stumbles a bit visually with its offering of many interesting but small illustrations. Particularly with the penchant on the part of the publisher (gta Verlag in association with the ETH-Zurich), to reproduce photographs of primary sources——a practice also seen in Werner Oechslin's and gta Verlag's journal, Scholion——it would be useful to see this book's many nuanced arguments illustrated with images of a size that would make apparent the nuances of the diminutively featured houses, plans, archival manuscript proofs, and pages of Muthesius's notes.

Uwe Schneider's contribution is unique in that it is the first study of Muthesius to focus on the architect's interest in——and impact on——garden design.10 At the time of the architect's early and tragic death in a streetcar accident in 1927, the German garden architect Harry Maasz published an obituary in Der Deutsche Gartenarchitekt, praising Muthesius for "teaching us that the house and garden are a single unit; from him we learned anew that in order for a garden to be truly full of life, it must be so organized as to open itself to the sun, even as it also opens outward from the house" (11).

Like such well-known landscape designers as Prince Hermann von Püückler-Muskau, Gustav Meyer, Humphry Repton, and many others before him, Muthesius insisted that the domestic garden be an extension of the house. Schneider argues that the "fundamentally new" conception of domestic garden design advanced by Muthesius lay, first, in his analytical approach to positioning the house on its site to maximize the exposure of day-use rooms to natural light. His second contribution consisted of the detailed design of areas of the garden to complement and enhance the functions of adjacent domestic interior spaces (303). Kitchens were thus augmented by kitchen gardens, living rooms extruded onto generous open terraces, and entrances enhanced by ennobling landscaped entry sequences. Taking matters a step further, the entire house would be designed at the level of the ground plane.

The resulting salubrious connection with the ground and the outdoors gave the primary justification to Muthesius's promotion of the term Landhaus over "villa," the latter denoting a house traditionally elevated on top of a half basement. The Landhaus would facilitate occupants' direct access to light and fresh air in "domesticated outdoor rooms," connecting people with the land——the proverbial German Boden (see Figure 1). Planned with utmost rationality as a product of affirmative bourgeois rather than aristocratic culture, the site, garden, and interior floor plans were to be completed by artfully furnished interiors of a neo-Biedermeier cast to create lavish upper-middle-class surroundings.

Noting Muthesius's nearly three-decade-long advocacy of the geometric garden tradition, Schneider looks more carefully than any previous scholar at Muthesius's clear debt to an opposing landscape conception: the irregular, picturesque landscape tradition displayed in Muthesius's 1892 diploma project, "House for a Wealthy Owner." Struck by the architect's about-face from the picturesque tradition to the ordered, geometrical garden around 1900, Schneider, like Stalder, relies on the Werkbund Archive's rich collection of nineteenth-century sources and the notes Muthesius took from them during the time he spent crafting his history of English domestic architecture. The result is a similarly nuanced, if also far lengthier, piece of original scholarship on Muthesius that considerably complicates the historical picture that Muthesius himself wished to convey about the evolution of domestic landscape design.

A lifelong bibliophile as well as writer, Muthesius gathered historical information from such authoritative sources as Reginald Blomfield's The Formal Garden in England (1892), Thomas Mawson's The Art and Craft of Garden Making (1900), Edward Prior's three-part article "Garden-Making" in The Studio (1901), and the German designs and books of Eduard Neide, director of Royal Gardens in Berlin.11 Muthesius borrowed selectively from these earlier accounts to construct a history of landscape design that moved from the popularity of the picturesque garden of the early nineteenth century to the supposed dominance of the geometric garden by the turn of the twentieth century. Schneider exhaustively demonstrates that the actual historical picture was far more complicated, and that Muthesius, to a significant extent, was telling a self-serving tale of an increasingly popular "architectonic garden" that, by harking back to English Elizabethan roots, simultaneously elevated architects as the designers of gardens.

Schneider cites contemporary sources as well as later scholarship to show that both picturesque and geometric landscapes were popular in Victorian times, contrary to Muthesius. For evidence he turns to the eighty-four British architects who by 1903 had become members of the Art Workers' Guild (founded in 1884). Of these, forty-one had engaged in designing gardens for their house commissions during the 1890s, and, tellingly, Muthesius had ignored those among them who designed in the picturesque tradition. By contrast, Muthesius prominently featured the designers of geometric gardens in Das englische Haus, whose analysis and argumentation are shown to echo Reginald Blomfield's decidedly anti-picturesque, pro-geometrical 1892 English tract.

One important contemporary landscape architect who differed with Blomfield, and who would doubtless have objected to Muthesius's argument as well, was Gertrude Jekyll. Commenting on Blomfield's one-sided preference for formal geometric gardens, which would so influence Muthesius, Jekyll wrote in 1897: "The formal army are architects to a man; they are undoubtedly right in upholding the simple dignity and sweetness and quiet beauty of the old formal Garden, but they parade its limitations as if they were the end of all art; they ignore the immense resources that are the precious possession of modern gardeners, and therefore offer no sort of encouragement to their utilization" (quoted in Schneider, 169). Elevating the professional status of the architect in ways that would prove consistent with his activities in applied arts reform back in Germany beginning in 1903, Muthesius treated the landscape gardener as just one of the many skilled but subservient artists and artisans in the service of the architect.

Schneider usefully documents Mu-thesius's efforts to support the founding of the German Society for Garden Design (Deutsche Gesellschaft füür Gartenkunst) in 1905. The society came into conflict with the older Association of German Garden Designers (Verein Deutscher Gartenküünstler), founded in 1887, and closely aligned with Germany's Training Schools for Gardeners (Gäärtnerlehranstalten). The Prussian Agriculture Ministry oversaw these schools, and so not surprisingly came into conflict with Muthesius's own government employer, the Prussian Commerce Ministry. The Commerce Ministry opposed the approach of the Training Schools for Gardeners and, according to Schneider, aided Muthesius's efforts to introduce landscape design courses in the Düüsseldorf School of Applied Arts, which was overseen by the Commerce Ministry (297). Such conflicts were far from unusual, pitting older, established methods and constellations of interests against newer, often upstart associations and their ambitious professionals. Schneider documents a particular scandal surrounding a landscape competition sponsored by the popular prewar journal Die Woche. Association designers boycotted the competition because its brief, and its jury members——who included the architects Hermann Muthesius, Theodor Fischer, and Paul Schultze-Naumburg, and the editors Ferdinand Avenarius and Paul Dobert——explicitly called for a geometrical garden solution. This effectively eliminated design approaches favored by the traditional Association of German Garden Designers.

These conflicts support Schneider's overarching argument that, historiographically speaking, there was a broadening of expressive possibilities in garden design in Germany over time, rather than a clear victory of a geometric tradition. There was also increased communication between garden designers and professionals in other fields. While there was no decisive triumph of the geometrical over the picturesque garden during his own time, Muthesius did influence the thinking, language, and garden design of numerous practitioners, not least among them the formidable Leberecht Migge, for whom the specificity of site remained crucial in ways connected to the methods promulgated by Muthesius.

Finally, Fedor Roth's study of Hermann Muthesius and the idea of a harmonious culture offers an idiosyncratic, at times stilted historical take on the German architect. The ballast of Roth's considerable erudition shifts awkwardly under the weight of his insistence that the values of a liberal democratic society be applied in analyzing what was, historically, a decidedly illiberal time. In opposition to Stalder's position, Roth believes that "essential aspects of Muthesius's practice and theory developed with a certain independence [Eigenstäändigkeit] from one another" (15). Since Muthesius's "formally recognizable influence as an artist is actually limited to a relatively short phase of 'Landhaus' design after 1904," Roth, again in considerable contrast to Stalder, proclaims himself satisfied with "placing Muthesius's built projects in the background in order to consider his published works on the level of intellectual discourse" (15). This is regrettable insofar as Roth's illustrations of various houses and interiors are actually larger and clearer than those in the Stalder book, although as visual evidence they remain largely unanalyzed.

In evaluating Muthesius's written works, Roth employs an unlikely measuring stick, Friedrich Nietzsche's definition of "harmonious culture" from the Untimely Meditations of 1876: the "unity of artistic style in all the cultural expressions of a people" (9). While Muthesius, writing in 1919, some three decades into his career, once invoked Nietzsche along these lines, as Roth mentions at the outset, the Prussian architect is an unlikely companion for such self-professed pre-1914 Nietzscheans as Joseph Maria Olbrich, Peter Behrens, and Henry van de Velde. Each of them——quite unlike Muthesius——made frequent and explicit references to the philosopher, as historians like Steven Aschheim and Tilmann Buddensieg have observed.

Nonetheless, Roth argues that Mu-thesius's written works fall roughly into a "vitalist" Dionysian phase between 1900 and 1908, and a more reasoned, unifying Apollonian effort to identify a new style of the age between approximately 1908 and 1914. Against the extreme individualism of movements like the Jugendstil, Muthesius called for a more realistic, functional, objective or sachlich basis for designers' work, which was more in tune with an age of unprecedented scientific and industrial progress. The measure of an artistic culture should lie not in the achievements of individual artistic geniuses, but in the level of visual and artistic literacy achieved by the entire population, Muthesius argued in such works as Kultur und Kunst of 1904. Ultimately, Roth sees Muthesius's vision for a harmonious culture as a reconciliation of art and life, conceived in a reciprocal relation (131) that achieves its ultimate expression not in the style of individual artistic personalities (Persöönlichkeitsstil), but in the style of an age (Zeitstil) (176).

There is no question, as one reads Roth's learned, multifaceted citations and his rich discussion of ideas and their genealogies, that the author has an admirable command of the intellectual history and artistic theories of this period. There is also much food for thought in his account of various webs of ideas and their associations among a host of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century intellectuals. However, the book seems less successful as a study of Muthesius's ideas, than as a history that uses Muthesius as an entry point for an exploration of many pre––World War I thinkers' views on culture, social harmony, and aesthetics. The particulars of Muthesius's multifaceted professional activities are minimized in favor of a far broader historical and cultural context, and the places where Roth takes the specifics of Muthesius's career into consideration are at times marred by questionable accuracy. Ignoring, for example, research conducted by the architectural historian Gisela Mööller on Peter Behrens in the 1990s, Roth maintains that in Muthesius's capacity as an employee of the Prussian Commerce Ministry, the architect was responsible for appointing Peter Behrens to direct the ministry's School of Applied Arts in Düüsseldorf in 1903. The appointment, in fact, resulted from the avid pursuit of Behrens by its minister, Theodor Mööller.

Elsewhere there is a rather baffling insistence on the importance of some aspects of Muthesius's work over others, and of some elements of historically significant events over others. For example, Roth emphasizes that the "high moral claims of artists" and their works at the important Third German Arts Exhibition of 1906 made this exhibition "largely non-commercial" (198). This is an altogether astonishing characterization of an exhibition that went to extraordinary efforts to advertise German companies and their products, and to feature Germany's rapidly reforming applied arts schools as incubators for national excellence in commercial design. Roth also dismisses Muthesius's writings around World War I as being too closely related to his work for the state at a time when "moral-political solidarity" was imperative, apparently making their consideration unnecessary (190). He thus turns a blind eye to the fact that vast amounts of Muthesius's work, beginning with his technical and cultural reporting from the German embassy in London in 1896, had been done on behalf of the state, somewhat begging the question of just when the architect's writings should be ignored because of their association with government employment, and when they should not.

The central problem in Roth's otherwise idea-rich study is the author's contention that Muthesius was somehow merely working up a body of art historical theory in support of some generalized, ideal notion of cultural harmony and its attendant progress. Roth misses the point that Muthesius was loyally serving his government throughout his career, performing a remarkable balancing act with his private architectural practice, his authorship of architectural and cultural texts, and his leadership in the arenas of government policy and the Werkbund. It is perhaps just this disregard of professional context that enables Roth to conclude with remarks about the competition of ideas in a normative "liberal society" and its collective identity (Wir-Identitäät, 227, 276). Such a liberal society is quite far away from the complex social reality and historical conditions in which Muthesius wrote, designed, and carried out his government service. Less a philosopher of cultural harmony than a balancer of diverse interests in overlapping fields, Muthesius maneuvered in a conflict-prone society over several decades of transformation in Germany's social, economic, and political spheres.

In the final analysis, the cataclysms of twentieth-century German history can be seen to have wrought vast changes in every aspect of German life, not least in the access and interpretation of its past. While the record may be incomplete in important areas, the new availability of sources such as the surviving portion of Hermann Muthesius's personal archive, along with restored access to Prussian government documents long sequestered behind the Iron Curtain, make new views of pre––World War I German architectural culture possible. The three books on Hermann Muthesius considered here raise important issues about the work of this architect, both within his milieu and in terms of his reception by subsequent generations. The bulk of Muthesius's Werkbund correspondence may indeed have gone up in smoke. But the surviving materials offer access to insights and lessons that reverberate far beyond the cultural milieu that produced them.


Interview with Wolfgang Muthesius by the author at the Hermann Muthesius Symposium, held at the Muthesius-designed Dryander house in Zabitz, Saxony, 21 September 1996; corroborated in 1998 in a separate interview with Vera Muthesius, widow of Eckart Muthesius (1904––1989), Hermann Muthesius's youngest son.

On the holdings in this collection see Jüürgen Pasche, "Der Nachlass von Hermann Muthesius im Werkbund-Archiv," in Hermann Muthesius im Werkbund-Archiv. Katalog einer Ausstellung des Werkbund-Archivs im Martin Gropius-Bau vom 11. Oktober bis 11. November 1990, ed. Eckhard Siepmann and Angelika Thieköötter (Berlin: Museumspäädagogischer Dienst Berlin, 1990). In addition to the three books in this review essay, other sources that have benefited directly from the availability of this collection include, for example, Frederic J. Schwartz, The Werkbund: Design Theory and Mass Culture before the First World War (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1996); John V. Maciuika, "Hermann Muthesius and the Reform of German Architecture, Arts, and Crafts" (PhD diss., University of California Berkeley, 1998); John V. Maciuika, Before the Bauhaus: Architecture, Politics, and the German State, 1890––1920 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005).

Hermann Muthesius, Stilarchitektur und Baukunst: Wandlungen der Architektur im XIX. Jahrhundert und ihr heutiger Standpunkt (Müülheim-Ruhr: Verlag von K. Schimmelpfeng, 1902), 49––51. Available in English in Stanford Anderson's translation, with his introductory essay, as Hermann Muthesius, Style-Architecture and Building-Art: Transformations of Architecture in the Nineteenth Century and its Present Condition (Santa Monica: Getty Center for the Arts and Humanities, 1994); Hermann Muthesius, Das englische Haus: Entwicklung, Bedingungen, Anlage, Aufbau, Einrichtung und Innenraum (Berlin: Ernst Wasmuth, 1904––5), 3 vols., available in English as a much-abridged single volume as Hermann Muthesius, The English House, trans. Janet Seligman, ed. with an intro. by Dennis Sharp (New York: Rizzoli, 1979).

See, for example, Werner Oechslin, "On the Problem of Accessing and of Reassessing Modern Architecture in a Broader Cultural Context," in Werner Oechslin, Otto Wagner, Adolf Loos, and the Road to Modern Architecture, trans. Lynnette Widder (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002); Mitchell Schwarzer, German Architectural Theory and the Search for Modern Identity (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1995); Harry Francis Mallgrave, Modern Architectural Theory: A Historical Survey, 1673––1968 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), 2005.

Fritz Stahl, unpaginated manuscript from 1921 in Werkbund archive, Berlin, Muthesius papers, as cited in Stalder, Hermann Muthesius und die Reformdiskussion in der Gartenarchitektur des früühen 20. Jahr-hunderts, 18.

Walter Curt Behrendt as cited and discussed in Fedor Roth, Hermann Muthesius und die Idee der harmonischen Kultur, 13.


It is worth noting that in an exhaustive listing of major and minor German and European architects who had contributed to the modern movement from roughly 1890 through 1927, the name of Hermann Muthesius does not even appear. Posener's 1931 essay "Episches Bauen" is quoted in Stalder, 18, where Stalder also quotes Posener's complaint about contemporary works on recent architectural history: "In the prewar era they stop with all Olbrich and Behrens, and after the war they pick up again with Mendelsohn and Taut."

Robert Kerr, The Gentleman's House or How to Plan English Residences, from the Parsonage to the Palace (London: John Murray, 1865); Robert Dohme, Das englische Haus: Eine Kultur- und baugeschichtliche Skizze (Braunschweig: George Westermann, 1888); Jacob von Falke, Die Kunst im Hause: Geschichtliche und Kritisch-Aesthetische Studien üüber die Decoration und Ausstattung der Wohnung (Vienna: Gerold's Sohn, 1873). For a more recent reassessment see Stefan Muthesius, Das englische Vorbild: Eine Studie zu den deutschen Reformbewegungen in Architektur, Wohnbau und Kunstgewerbe im spääteren 19. Jahrhundert (Munich: Prestel, 1974).

For an English translation of part of his book see Uwe Schneider, "Hermann Muthesius and the Introduction of the English Arts & Crafts Garden to Germany," Garden History 28, no. 1, Reviewing the Twentieth-Century Landscape (Summer 2000), 57––72; available at stable URL: (accessed 5 July 2010).

Edward Prior's article, as Schneider notes, is among the many notes and papers of Muthesius in the Werkbund archives, and is the source of the famous example of the butterfly plan and formal gardens at Prior's The Barn project of 1895––97, adapted and popularized a decade later by Muthesius in his house for Hermann Freudenberg in Berlin-Nicolassee, one of the architect's most popular and often-reproduced projects. The young Charles Edouard- Jeanneret (Le Corbusier) would mix there with Muthesius, Peter Behrens, and other Werkbund luminaries during his travels and study tour in Germany in 1910––11, and again when reporting on the Werkbund conference in 1914, as H. Allen Brooks recounts in Le Corbusier's Formative Years: Charles-Edouard Jeanneret at La Chaux-de-Fonds (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997).