ANNE WANNER'S Textiles in History / publications

Ludwig Otto Werder (1868-1902), and the early development of the school of design in St.Gall
a paper, given at the CIETA meeting of 1993 in Lyon, France, by Anne Wanner-JeanRichard

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  Werder as a student:
  L.O. Werder's life is strongly connected with the early development of the St.Gall school of design. Werder was born in that town on May 5th 1868, and at that time the school, which was founded in November 1867 had just passed its first half year of existence.

1883 brought changes in Werder's life and in the development of the school: while Werder was looking for a profession, the first director of the school of design retired for reasons of health, and a new one had to be found. It was Friedrich Fischbach from Hanau (Germany), who was willing to come to St.Gall. He had been teaching Ornament since 1870 and he was editing a book on the ornaments of fabrics. In St.Gall he enlarged the former school of design into a school of design for Industry, and together with a library and museum it formed a one unit. A building for the 3 institutions was inaugurated in 1886. The period of Fischbach was the period of historism. He sold his collection of historic fabrics to the museum collection.

Werder entered the enlarged school of design on April 17th 1883 - in the same year as Fischbach. In his diary he specially mentions the designer Schwarz, to whom he was indebted for having found his true vocation in life. However, he did not like the Director Fischbach very much, and it seems that he was not the only one, because Fischbach's contract was not prolonged after 1888. Among other things, he was reproached for having paid too much attention to the historic ornament.

  In May 1888, Johannes Stauffacher (1850-1916) started to teach at the school and with him Naturalism dominated the style of decoration in St.Gall. He was a former student of the school of design, he had continued his studies in Paris, where he became a wellknown designer. He considered exact plant studies as the highest form of art and in St.Gall he quickly got a reputation as a flower painter. There were several discussions with his superiors , in their opinion whereas Fischbach had emphasized ornament too much, Stauffacher had not paid enough attention to this. Moreso Stauffacher very often expressed himself in a negative way concerning the factory director's understanding of art, and finally, but only in 1904, he had to leave his job for this reason.

Werder had left the school as a student in autumn 1885. He worked in a textile factory in order to develop his practical kowledge. In January 1888 he travelled to Paris, and there he stayed in the studio of the designer Christian Kreis. The diary gives the impression that Werder had to work very hard and there was practically no time to learn about Paris life or art. However, Werder did not miss the world exhibition of 1889. With some surprise he notes in his diary that 2 embroidery manufacturers from St.Gall had exhibited embroideries there for which he himself had made the design. The textile museum possesses a handkerchief which had been shown in Paris by this manufacturer in 1889, and so an example of Werder's early style is preserved.




Landscape of St Gallen with Lake of Constance, drawn by Werder 11 August 1885


Ludwig Otto Werder, 1868 - 1902


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