Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Das Eckhaus

Das Eckhaus. The corner house. Ludwig Meidner painted the Villa Kochmann in Dresden in 1913. The house, as if made of cards, gives the viewer the impression that it's moving, that it's alive.Bathed in a Van Gogh green light and blue shadows of a cloudy afternoon, the house stretches and swells the contorted lines of its façade like wrinkles on an old face. Through the windows, behind the eyelid curtains, there is a reflected darkness of private space and hidden lives. The cellar windows transform into gaping mouths with a mouldy breath exchanging vows with the dark green shadows of the garden overgrowth creeping in from the sides. Vows that will eventually be broken.

The owners of the house seem to have belonged to the family of Franz Kochmann who later on, in the twenties, established a photographic equipment company in Dresden manufacturing folder-cameras, such as the Enolde in 1924 and the Korelle in 1930. However one of Kochmann's most innovating designs was the Reflex Korelle which was launched in 1934-35. In 1938, Franz Kochmann decided to emigrate and his company was totally destroyed during the bombing of Dresden in 1945. Nothing was ever heard of him.

It is not clear who lived in the villa Kochmann from 1938 to 1945. One could imagine a forgotten butler, like Firs in the play "The Cherry Orchard" by Anton Chechov, taking care of the house, keeping things in minimal order while awaiting the return of the Master of das Eckhaus who would never return.

The villa Kochmann did not survive the bombing of Dresden which took place between the 13th and 15th of February 1945 and destroyed 90% of the baroque capital of the German state of Saxony. But das Eckhaus of 1913 still lives on in the Meidner painting. In the painting it is only late afternoon…


  1. I enjoyed reading this information about my great uncle's home, Franz Kochmann, and the marvelous painter, Meidner. Franz Kochmann moved to Utrecht, Holland with his wife, Clare, and he died in June 1956. She died in April 1971.

    Do you have a photograph of the Villa Kochmann?

    Thank you.


  2. Dear Joan,

    Your comment, made me very happy indeed. Unfortunately, I don't have a photograph of the house. I was quite fascinated by the painting and tried to find a little bit more about it. Anyway, thank you very much for adding this extra bit of information which puts the story into context.

    All the best


  3. Hello, Douglas,
    David Tomei referred me to your website to view the additions that you made regarding Franz Kochmann. I enjoyed reading it. One correction, however. You referred to the fact that he made enough money to educate his children, but he never had any children.

  4. Dear Joan,

    Nice to hear from you. Thank you for that correction. I actually modified the text immediately and it should be ok now. I never imagined that a single entry in my blog would take me so far. And it's thanks to you and David. Many thanks for visiting my blog once again.

    Best regards