Otto Eckmann (1865-1902)

Portrait from Otto Eckmann

Otto (Theodor Heinrich) Eckmann was a master of Art Nouveau and a designer of Villeroy & Boch Mettlach stoneware decors. Unfortunately, only one Mettlach stoneware product can currently be clearly assigned to him.

It is a pitcher ( # 2486) , which decorates one of the most important artisan pieces of German Art Nouveau, the Five Swans . This decoration was used in the years 1896-1897 on a tapestry of the weaving school Scherrebeck (Schleswig-Holstein) in an edition of 100 copies.

Based on Japanese woodcuts Eckmann uses a narrow portrait format for the decoration. He lets the five swans swim down a river. The swans, river and trees were highly stylized and ornamentally merging with the flat background.

For the company Villeroy & Boch Mettlach he continued to design some ceramic tiles (Art Nouveau tiles). 1


Otto Eckmann was born on November 19, 1865 in Hamburg and attended the arts and crafts schools in Hamburg and Nuremberg in the mid- 1880s (after completing a commercial apprenticeship). Then he went to Munich and began studying painting at the Academy of Fine Arts, which he successfully completed ~ 1890 .

Despite his success as a painter (in 1894 he received e.q. for the 6-part painting "Das Lebensalter (The Age)" a gold medal), he devoted himself from 1894 exclusively only the graphics and the arts and crafts. The impression of the final turning away of the painting was further reinforced by the fact that he gave his whole painterly work in 1894 to an auction ( by Rud. Bangel, Frankfurt).

In this new artistic period of life Eckmann became a major representative of the (floral) Jugendstil, which played an important role in art at the end of the 19th century .

As a graphic artist, he is heavily influenced by Japaneseism, taking over the free, ornamental stylization of animals and plants, but also developing his own design.

From 1895 he also works as an illustrator for the monumental magazine "Pan" ( 1895-1900 ) and from 1896 for the Munich " youth " and from 1897 he teaches as a professor of ornamental painting at the Berlin School of Applied Arts.

As a painter he favors long-stemmed plants, swinging flowers and graceful animals, especially the swan.

But metal work, jewelry, glass windows, lamps, design of book covers, wallpaper, wall and floor carpets, ceramics, creation of trademarks (eg for the AEG), furniture and interior decoration are also part of his life's work.

Worth mentioning is also his work as a typographer and his " Eckmann Schrift ", which was developed in 1899 and published in 1901. With its curved lines and open curves which corresponds to the formal ideal of the Art Nouveau style.

On June 11, 1902 , Otto Eckmann suicided at the age of 37 in the town of Badenweiler (southern Black Forest). The background of this tragedy is unknown to me.

Art Nouveau

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List of sources :

1. Brinckmann, Justus: The Art Nouveau in Hamburg: In Memory ... and Otto Eckmann (1865-1902) ...

2. Kaiser Wilhelm Museum: Otto Eckmann (1865-1902). A master of Art Nouveau, Krefeld 1977



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