The Huck-Eibenschütz Collection
It is a rare and all the more thrilling experience to come across a virtually untouched collection formed by a German couple during the short democratic period of the Republic of Weimar. The Huck-Eibenschütz collection is an example of a unique time in German history. This era was marked by an exceptional outburst of life in a “modern” way as opposed to the trauma of World War I: all arts and sciences were in search of new concepts, ideas and dreams of what the future could provide.
The capital Berlin has become an epitome of these “Roaring ‘20ies”. The economically independent and the liberal elite of the republic made the city the centre of their cosmopolite lives between the passion for the avant-garde and the love for the styles of the past. Amongst those shaping the look of the era were Dr. Phil. Wolfgang Huck (1889-1966), editor to some influential newspapers of the era, and his wife, the then well-known actress Camilla Eibenschütz.
The couple divided their time between a Baroque style Dahlem villa and a country house in the Southern mountainous part of Germany, the Estate of Bogenbergslehen (both designed by Berlin architect Prof. Alfred Breslauer). Especially Camilla Eibenschütz devoted much of her time to decorate both estates with antique treasures from all over Europe.
The Huck dynasty: German intellectualism between the wars
In the late 19th century August Huck (†1911) established a publishing house which was one of the most influential newspaper companies of the Republic of Weimar and this head office was situated directly near the Brandenburger Tor with the unrivalled address Pariser Platz 1 in Berlin. It held more than 50 newspapers all over the republic, e.g. in Dresden, Kassel, Mannheim, Nuremberg and Munich. The political orientation of all the group’s papers was a liberal one supporting the strictly democratic parties DDP (Deutsche Demokratische Partei) and DVP (Deutsche Volkspartei).
Camilla Eibenschütz: the actress as art collector
When Frank Wedekind’s play “Frühlings Erwachen” (The Awakening of Spring) was first performed in Berlin on November 20, 1906 it caused heated debates on traditional moral values, in early 20th century Germany it was a real shocker. It must have been a very difficult decision for a young woman shortly after the chaotic time to appear in this play. We do not know if Camilla Eibenschütz, the beautiful and talented wife of Dr. Wolfgang Huck, hesitated in taking it, but as a matter of fact she performed the female main part, the figure of the 14-year old Wendla (Ill.), in the first performance and thus made a clear statement of her modern and liberal convictions - against all diva clichés.
The very independent actress was a model for many women of her generation. She seems to have limited her career to the stage, performing mainly in productions of Max Reinhard (1873-1943), the re-inventor of the German-speaking theatre from shortly after 1900 onwards. In his version of Shakespeare’s all-time classic “Romeo & Juliet” she gave the Juliet in 1907 (ill.).
Backstage Camilla Eibenschütz travelled a lot, always looking for the one and special object to add to her private world. She kept a diary which describes the circumstances of the acquisition of some of the items offered here. It would be utterly wrong to label her as an art collector, since it is impossible to find a focus of her collecting activities. It seems to have been the unique beauty or quality of an object that made her buy it, regardless to the fact if it was an original painting by Reynolds or a copy after him. All items were carefully fitted in an overall design of the household they were bought for.
The estate of Bogensberglehen in the Bavarian alps
Most of the items offered here found their place in the mountain retreat of Gut Bogensberglehen. From 1929 onwards the family had a summer estate established here – with all commodities one can imagine in this time, including a swimming pool inspired by 18th century garden fashion. Camilla Eibenschütz certainly had a large influence on the design by architect Prof. Albert Breslauer of Berlin). The writer Bernt von Heiseler, a friend of the family described the house as follows: “Das Haus Bogensberglehen wurde … auch einer der schönsten Wohnsitze, die es je im Alpenvorland zu sehen gab, angefüllt mit Kostbarkeiten alter bäurischer Kultur und ein Zeugnis seiner lebensvollen Besitzerin.“
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(The estate of Bogensberglehen became also one of the most beautiful estates that were ever created in the foothills of the Alps, full of treasures of folkloristic culture and a testimony of its landlady so full of life).
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