Full text: Alte und Moderne Kunst XXVI (1981 / Heft 177)

Peter Vergo 
Fritz Waerndorfer 
as Collector 
ame of Fritz Waerndorfer occurs at least once in almost every hlstory o1 modern Viennese design. He is rsmembered as fvlend and patron o! the early Secession, and especially 
tancial backer of the Wiener Werkstätte, whlch he founded together wlth Josef Hoffmann and Kolo Moser in the summerof 1903. Untortunately, almost notnlng has been written 
t the formatlon of his art collections, or about hls remarkable commlsslons to Hoffmann for the decoratlon o1 a dining room, and to the Scottish architect Charles Rennie 
intosh for tne design of an entire music room In Waemdorfers hause In Währing. This essay sets out to explore the background to these commlsslons, and discusses the prob- 
Vate of the lost Macklntosh muslc room. 
lrich (Fritz) Waerndorfer was born on 5 May 
in Vienna, second son of Samuel and Bertha 
idorfer, nee Neumann(fig.1-3).' His birth is 
rded in the register of the lsraelitische Kultus- 
einde, which gives the address of the parental 
e as Bauernmarkt 13, in Vienna's tirst district. 
Närndorfers were a prosperous Jewish manu- 
iring family, whose fortunes derived princi- 
from cotton. Bertha Neumann's sisters, Ma- 
ie and Jenny, had married Moriz (Marcus) Be- 
st and lsidor Mautner respectively. Together, 
three brothers-in-law owned and ran the 
nwollspinnerei Warndorfer- Benedict - 
tner, whose principal factory was at Nachod 
ihemia. By 1897 the purchase of further facto- 
for example that at Günselsdorf in Lower 
ria, had turned the family business into one 
ie largest textile concerns of the then Mon- 
y, with a total of some 63,000 spindlesß 
a is known about Fritz Waerndorfens artistic 
ation. His mother used to take him to exhibi- 
i and galleries; it was almost certainly to her 
ued his interest in the visual artsß His formal 
ation, at Vienna's Akademisches Gymna- 
, evidently left little impression on him: he 
by his own account a mischievous and unruly 
.During the early1890s,he was sent on a pro- 
ed visit to England in ccnnection with the fa- 
business, where he occupied himself far 
iwith what was going on in the London mu- 
1s and galleries than with the textile industry. 
l this period date the beginnings of his inter- 
n modern design, which was to be a ruling 
ion throughout his life, 
rning to Vienna, it seems almost inevitable 
he should have found himself drawn to the 
a of artists who were to become the founder 
bers of the Vereinigung bildender Künstler 
rreichs - the Vienna Secession. il was per- 
due to his fellow freemason Hermann Bahr, 
whom he carried on an animated and at times 
iate correspondence over a period of many 
s, that he first became involved with the Se- 
ionist movement. The two man shared very si- 
' interests: Behr's articles and essays from 
nd the turn of the century likewise reflect his 
ern with the role of the applied arts, and with 
nodern English design movement. In a letter 
ahr dated May 1898, Waerndorfer refers ap- 
ngly to an address the former had given un- 
he title "Kunstgewerbe und Wiener Stil"! But 
without Bahr, he would probably have found 
1ay to the Secession in the natural course of 
l Margaret Macdonald, 3 Gesso-Paneele nach Maeler- 
llncks "Die Sieben Prinzessinnen", 1906 für den 
Waerndorferschen Musik-Salon ausgeführt. Aufnah- 
me von Bedlord Lemere, 1906. Hunterian Museum, 
University of Glasgow, Mackintosh Collection (Foto: 
Fritz Waerndorfer. Aufnahme um 1903. Österreichi- 
sches Museum für angewandte Kunst. (Foto: Mu- 
Samuel Warndorfer (Vater von Fritz Waerndorfer). Auf- 
nahme unbekannten Datums. Mit freundlicher Geneh- 
migung von Frau Betty Stutz, Bedmond. 
Bertha Warndorfer geb. Neumann (Mutter von Fritz 
Waerndorler). Porträt c. 1850-60. Maler unbekannt. 
Ol aul Leinwand, 68x 55 (unregelmäßig). Mit freundli- 
cher Genemigung von Frau Laura Zirner, Wien. (Foto: 
Anmerkungen 1, 2 (Anm. 3 - 7 s. S. 35) 
1 Geburlsbuch der Israelitlschen Kuitusgemeinde WIEN, 136a, Nr. 
4514. Especlally In lefer years, Fritz Waerndorfer preferred w 
wrile his surname thus, rather Khan Warndorfer, which was the 
tradltlonal spelling of the lamily name. 
P On lsldoi Maulner and his business interesls see the enxry in the 
Oesrerreichiscnes Biographisches Lexikon 181571950, so. vi. 
1975, 5,154 s 5 and fu1the1rels. 
events. The aims of the association, to break 
down the traditional, hierarchical distinction bet- 
ween the "fine" and the "applied" arts, and to 
bring art in Vienna into "more lively contact" with 
the latest development of art abroad, could scar- 
cely fail to evoke in him a sympathetic, even en- 
thusiastic response. By the early 1900s, he was a 
regular visitor to the Secession's exhibitions, even 
complaining that his daily visits were costing him 
a small fortune in admission feesß 
By 1901 at the latest, he could number among his 
intimate friends some of the leading Secession- 
ists, including Hoffmann, Klimt and Kolo Moser. 
He seems to have been particularly devoted to 
Klimt, whom he always treated with great gener- 
osity. In May 1901, Waerndorfer gave a banquet in 
his honour, on which occasion the painter was 
ceremonially enthroned in a magnificent chair 
specially designed by Hoffmann (tablecloth and 
menu-cards were after designs by Moser). lt was 
probably Waerndorfer, too, who (on the principle 
of doing good by stealth) tried to arrange for 
Klimt's studio to be re-decorated during the 
artist's absence at Lake Attersee during the sum- 
mer of 1903 - a typically expansive gesture, but 
one which the artist himself, overworked and be- 
hind schedule with preparations for his big retro- 
spective exhibition at the Secession in the au- 
tumn o1 that year, viewed with mixed feelingsß 
Waerndorfer also invited Klimt to accompany him 
as his guest on a visit to England in the spring of 
1906 in connection with the showing of designs by 
the Wiener Werkstätte at the Earls Court imperial- 
Royal Austrian Exhibition in London; Klimfs exhi- 
bitor's season ticket to this exhibition is preserv- 
ed among the artist's papersi 
The Klimt retrospective of 1903 was marked by the 
appearance of a volume entitled Gegen Klimt, 
edited by Hermann Bahr. Gegen Klimt was an an- 
thology of adverse criticisms of the artist's work, 
especially his University paintings, and was in- 
tended to show the hostility and narrow-minded- 
ness of the Viennese press. lnterestingly, it emer- 
ges from his correspondence with Bahr that it was 
originally Waerndorfer who conceived of publish- 
ing a collection ol this kind. On 17 September he 
wrote: "Wir wollen vor Eröffnung der Klimt-Aus- 
stellung die Kritiken der Wiener Blätter über K.s 
Philosophie, Medicin und Fries in Buchform her- 
ausgeben. Einen Teil des Materials besitze ich..." 
Bahr evldently took up this idea with enthusiasm, 
since Waerndorfer wrote again two days later: 
"Herrlich! Ich beneide Klimt um solch einen 

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