In 1897, during the height of his fame, painter, graphic artist and sculptor Franz von Stuck (1863–1928) commissioned his impressive artist’s residence. Villa Stuck, which sits atop a hill overlooking the Bavarian capital’s much-loved Isar River, displays the very example of artistic living.
The overarching principle of the artist’s villa is a concept that utilises multiple art-forms to produce a Gesamtkunstwerk, or ‘total work of art’. This holistic approach to art-inspired interior design reflects Stuck’s personal style which, in combining elements of classical, Byzantine, Oriental and High-Renaissance art with contemporary developments, succeeds in creating a highly unique and internationally acclaimed work of art.
Stuck’s love of classical antiquity is seen throughout the construction of the historic villa. From its decorative façade and ancient Greek-inspired portico entrance, to the luxurious room settings which include a reception room, music salon, library, private living quarters, artist’s studio and Pompeian-inspired garden replete with 19th-century artworks.
Visitors to the residence enter through a heavy bronze door, landing in the villa’s vestibule and greeted by a cast of the Medusa Rondanini. The monochrome mosaic floor, geometric-patterned coffered ceiling and ochre-coloured lined walls are a glorious introduction of Stuck’s intricate design. The reception room has always been hailed as the most impressive on account of the wealth of materials used and because it constitutes the most succinct expression of Stuck’s artistic identity. In this simply structured room, Stuck made ingenious use of the painterly effects of surfaces and tonalities, as well as the subtle play of light and reflections on the walls.
Located immediately adjacent to the reception room, the music salon draws inspiration from song and dance, a place where Stuck’s wife Mary, performed concerts publicly. With its intense use of colour and magical light effects the room lends a monumentally theatrical feel and stage-like character. Painted architectural trompe l’oeil are paired with Stucks’s own imagery and inscriptions referencing famous plays by William Shakespeare, whilst the names of celebrated composers: Bach, Handel, Gluck, Haydn and Mozart are embellished into the wood panelling.
To the back, the artist’s garden lies secluded and intimately laid-out, linking the original residence with its later addition built between 1914–15. With its clear-cut lawn rectangles lined by stone blocks, the space resembles once again, a stage-like setting.
Today, both houses serve as public museums – a shrine to Stuck’s symbolic creations and mastery. The villa's varying spaces are a significant component of the contemporary artistic program, which since its renovation, has welcomed artists such as Sylvie Fleury, Christian Hartard and Abbas Akhaven. Against the backdrop one of Europe’s oldest states, Villa Stuck is a portal to the region’s brimming Kunstareal (art district) which packs more than 5,000 years of European cultural history.