Karl Diehl - Entrepreneur, Sponsor and Patron
The life of Karl Diehl encompassed German history from the German Empire to present day reunified Germany with all its facets. Born in a simple family of craftsmen as the son of hardworking parents, who built an impressive organization with drive and skill, he further developed his inheritance beyond the ravages of war to an internationally established group that counts over 17000 employees today. Despite all his success, Karl Diehl never forgot the people, who didn't have such good fortune.
For many years, the honorary citizen of Nuremberg Karl Diehl supported the work of the Old-Town Friends in his hometown of Nuremberg, saving many architectural treasures from destruction or funding their restoration. For this work, he was awarded the honorary title “Patron of the Old City”.
Over many decades, Karl Diehl had collected valuable copper engravings, woodcuts and etchings by Albrecht Dürer, perhaps Nürnberg's most important artist. Karl Diehl's collecting passion was supported by his wife Irmgard Diehl who gave him quite a number of these precious objects as birthday or Christmas presents. According to the renowned Dürer expert Dr. Thomas Schauerte, a "top collection of outstanding quality" which can easily stand comparison with the world's great museums has thus been set up. It was the wish of Nürnberg's honorary citizen Karl Diehl to keep the entire collection together in the long term and make it accessible to the people of his hometown, which was fulfilled by his three sons at the end of 2015. With gratitude, the city fathers paid tribute to this patron gesture as "one of the most important art donations ever received by the city of Nürnberg".
Triumph of the Galatea
The Germanisches Nationalmuseum (GNM) in Nürnberg was happy to announce the purchase of an outstanding wood relief for its Renaissance collection a few weeks ago. The museum was able to buy the masterpiece that was created in 1526 in Nürnberg, at the Dutch art market only because the company Diehl has provided the museum management with a fast financial pledge in answer to its request. The “Triumph of the Galatea“ was thus able to return to its home town about 500 years after it was created by Franconian artist and Veit-Stoß student Hans Peisser. The exquisite piece, the only one of Peisser’s works that could be dated precisely, is one of the most important parts of the permanent exhibition of the national museum.
The location of the ensemble of buildings, off usual tourist tracks and Nürnberg's famous sights, is not spectacular. However, the history of the three picturesque little houses with nooks and crannies and of their former inhabitants – craftsmen – is all the more fascinating. At "Kühnertsgasse", in the warren of streets in Nürnberg's old town, these buildings, parts of which date back approx. 600 years, have long been dilapidated and waiting for the wrecking ball, before the Old-Town Friends took care of the ensemble to convert it into a jewel of Nürnberg's historic old town. The meticulous research and renovation work took a total of seven years, from 2003 to 2010, which gave preservationists important insight into the history of the former Imperial Free City. Researchers were enthused about this "raree show of history" in view of the numerous findings and discoveries in the leftovers of many generations of craftsmen, among them compass and blade smiths. The Old Town Friends had long shied away from this great challenge because the costs and imponderables of such a building complex seemed to be too enormous, and there was no suitable use for it. Yet, finally they came to realize once again that no one but the Old-Town Friends and their numerous sponsors – among them Diehl – could save the cultural treasure.
The "Pellerhaus" Courtyard
Before 1945, no art historian could ignore the "Pellerhaus" with its splendid courtyard. The building was a prime example of a perfect Renaissance town house and considered one of Nürnberg's greatest attractions. After its destruction and only partial reconstruction of the courtyard, this masterpiece of European architecture, however, almost fell into oblivion in Nürnberg. It was Nürnberg's Old-Town Friends who took care of the building, despite all opposition, to restore its former splendor. The work has so far taken eight years, the impressive round arches on the building's long sides have long been restored – the front side of the rear gable with its elaborate volutes and festoons is currently being worked on. This has been made possible by numerous donors, among them the deceased Karl Diehl and his son Werner Diehl. "Without the Diehl family, we would not have got the Pellerhof building going," Karl-Heinz Enderle, chairman of the Old-Town Friends, made it clear. The third and last construction stage started in fall 2016.
The "Irrerbad" Building on the Wine Market Square
The "Irrerbad" building, first mentioned in writing in 1326, was newly erected in 1540 and is today the last of formerly fourteen bathhouses in Nürnberg which still exists. This is why it is of outstanding cultural and historical importance. In medieval times, it was quite common to enjoy one's weekly bath. It was only later on that visits to the bathhouses decreased strongly for fear of infections. During a renovation in 1693, the building was largely given its current shape. The formerly exposed half-timbering of the second floor disappeared behind a mantle and the late Gothic half-timbered gable was replaced by a new one. Various renovations in the following centuries changed the arrangement of windows and the interior rooms. After integration of a shop window in 1907/1908, the building retained its external appearance until it was damaged in 1945. In 1948, the old roof truss was removed and replaced by a makeshift roof which existed for more than fifty years. Only acquisition of the old "Irrerbad" building by the "Old-Town Friends" in 1997 opened up new prospects which were promoted by Karl Diehl's start-up financing on the occasion of the 75th birthday of Dr. Erich Mulzer in 2004.
Work on the building encountered more problems than expected because there were several meters of filled ground under the building. The foundation of the external walls had to be strengthened, accompanied by extensive archaeological work. The findings, including remains of a wooden house, dated back to early medieval times. The most famous finding is a carved apostle figure, the so-called home patron saint, protecting the construction work until its completion in October 2007.
"Grabenturm" Tower of Nürnberg's City Wall
Nürnberg's largest and simultaneously most significant monument has surrounded its old town since the 15th century like an armor: the latest city wall. The importance of this monument cannot be estimated highly enough because there is no other city wall of this kind and size in all Europe, which still exists, so that Nürnberg's city wall may well be worth becoming a world heritage site. Due to the number and variety of buildings integrated in the wall, it is a kind of textbook of fortification techniques of the Middle Ages and early modern age. When you go from the castle in western direction along the "Vestnertor" wall, you recently get again to one of the former "Grabenturm" towers, the first casemate tower. For a long time, however, there was a gap at this place because the wall, which had withstood attacks for such a long time, was severely damaged during the Second World War, and the first casemate tower was destroyed.
Only in 2002, reconstruction work began, to which Karl Diehl made a major financial contribution on the occasion of the Diehl company's 100th anniversary in the same year. Reconstruction work took three years and since 2005, the gap in Nürnberg's city wall is closed again by the restored tower. As "tower for the youth", the distinctive building near the castle is used today as ecumenical youth center.
The Door Leaves on the Main Portal of the Church of St. Lorenz
The west facade of the church of St. Lorenz is one of the most impressive facades of Germany's gothic cathedrals: the portal, magnificently covered with figures, the famous rosette and the filigreed decorative gable with the silver turret all rise around an axis to form a beautiful grandiose front. The war did not manage to land any incurable wounds on this "hymn of stone", and after the completion of various renovations, the double tower front of Nürnberg's largest church once more has its familiar view.
The four door leaves remained an artistic weak point: here, at the transition point and entrance from the profane to the sacred, the original design had become blurred and only the four lion-head door handles from the 14th century could still be discerned. In 1824, the old doors had been replaced by neo-gothic leaves, which had been cut too small. After these were destroyed in the war, very simple doors made from boards followed, which were only pieced together by rows of nails. However, over the years, these were found to be technically and artistically lacking.
In 1977, a donation by Karl Diehl at last made a suitable solution possible. In 1978/79, the sculptor Heinz Heiber created four modern door leaves cast in bronze, which incorporated the complete medieval lion heads on the one hand, and on the other hand, depicted hands on the edges of the reliefs that point both upwards and downwards in order to symbolize man?s descent and despair, but also his hopes of redemption.
The town wall tower "Blue A" on Tratzenzwinger
Nürnberg's fortifications make up the largest historical construction of our city and their sheer size represents a monument of European significance. Although it was damaged in many places in the war, it was saved by the city council and restored and renovated piece by piece despite some opposing voices. Admittedly, a large number of heavily or totally destroyed towers have been left, so that some parts of the walls do not yet come close to their earlier appearance. Karl Diehl is so far the only Nürnberg citizen to intervene in this matter and provided a considerable donation in 1977 on the occasion of the Diehl company's 75-year anniversary for the reconstruction of the city's 'Blue A' wall tower. This medieval tower was incorporated in 1540/45 when ramparts were being built to strengthen the access point of the river Pegnitz; a massive extension was built at the rear for a wide cannon platform at the height of its previous roof section. The new roof lay on high stilts, similar to the well-known 'fat towers', in order to allow the cannon smoke to disperse quickly. In 1945, all the woodwork was destroyed by fire and the base of the tower, which was riddled with cracks, remained at the mercy of the weather for decades before the reconstruction could begin thanks to the donation. In the process, a half-timbered extension from the 18th century was also rebuilt on the inner side of the wall. In 1980, the rooms here and in the tower were presented to the local youth group in an attempt to bridge monument maintenance with a contemporary functional use. The main gain for the town, however, is in the preservation of the interesting fortifications and in the reclamation of one of the picturesque sections of the town walls.
The Chörlein on the House at Füll 6
Chörleins, unique closet-like or furnished alcoves on the first floor of old houses, are a particular specialty of Nürnberg's architecture. Originally meant as "small 'Chöre' or choirs" to serve as family altars, they soon developed purely into lookout oriels from where people could enjoy unobstructed views of the street in both directions. In becoming devices of bourgeois neighborly curiosity, their rich artistic forms were preserved, providing perfect testament to centuries of excellent local carpentry. After the bombing campaign, barely 50 of Nürnberg's almost 400 chörleins were left and the Friends of the Old Town have been endeavoring to rebuild these incredibly characteristic symbols of the town since 1974. Karl Diehl has helped out: in 1978, he took over all the costs for the chörlein at Füll 6 (formerly Füll 10), of which, apart from the bottom section, only a few fully rotted parts remained in the city's salvage. Therefore, the entire body of the chörlein had to be reconstructed using photographs. The front face, which was curved slightly outwards between the corner jambs, proved especially difficult. According to the chörlein's decorative form, it dates from the baroque period around 1700; the curved facade and the beautifully curved wave shaped gable, however, already hint at the transition from heavy solemnity to softer emotion, which a few decades later would then further develop into the slightly delicate forms of the rococo.
The Grübel fountain on the inner Laufer Platz
The town smith, Konrad Grübel (1736 - 1809), always stood resolute during his working life: as a capable worker in his job, people gave him the most difficult tasks on church spires, and as an officer of the streets (from 1799), he was a respected person amongst the citizens. He could compose oral verse, however, almost at will in any situation: as early as his schooldays, beginning with a clumsy couplet to the teacher, who honored him for this budding first work with a good thrashing, then on birthdays, weddings, for new year and finally, any general events and celebrations in the small world of his home town. Since 1790, his poems have appeared in print and in 1798 and 1805, even Goethe praised them. The Nürnbergers liked his shrewdness, his unsentimental honesty, his natural gift for observation and also his roots as a man of the people and craftsman. It is no wonder then that in 1881, they erected a fountain as a monument to him (at that time, on the corner of Neue Gasse/Tucherstraße). After the war, the salvaged figure stood for decades gathering dust and uncared for in a corner of the city library, but when the Friends of the Old Town wanted to restore the fountain, they were not able to raise the necessary money. Karl Diehl sprang to the rescue and donated the entire costs for the reconstruction of the sandstone basin and the railings, as well as for the erection of the fountain on the well-chosen site of today. On 21st April 1983, the taps were turned on and the small monument could reclaim its place in the long line of Nürnberg's old town fountains.
Window on the East side of the old town hall's hall
The reconstruction of the old town hall since 1978 will be regarded in hindsight as one of the most impressive community efforts of Nürnberg's citizens. Karl Diehl also took part in this great task: he paid for the glazing of the three windows of the gothic chörlein, dating from 1340, on the east side of the hall, which count among the oldest and best preserved parts of the entire building. They received a completely new frame construction, which made double-glazing possible. On the inner side, there are mouth-blown bull's eye panes that are each specially decorated in the middle with a patron's colorful coat-of-arms. Although these bright, colorful glass depictions were saved during the war, only some of them re-surfaced. Thus, the Starck family's coat-of-arms in the left window (see picture) could be restored after an easy renovation, while the Haller coat-of-arms in the middle window had to be completely reconstructed based on photographs and heraldic depictions. With the Nützel coat-of-arms on the right, it was necessary to close various cracks with new lead strips before it could take its old place again as an original. There was still enough of Karl Diehl's donation to finance the Behaim coat-of-arms in the connecting left window, which also had to be completely reconstructed. All the original coats-of-arms stem from 1613 and therefore, just like the great chandelier, belong to the baroque style of the hall.
Nürnberg Chronicles and Hand Notes for the City's Archives
Hand-written, chronological records on the incidents and events of the city of Nürnberg were written very often in earlier times and are testament to the historical tendencies that many citizens, especially those in the 17th and 18th centuries used to have. The value of such thickly bound sources, does, however, vary: often they are only copies of well-known documents, at least in terms of the preceding history or the founding records of the town. The closer one comes to the lifetime of the chronicler, however, the more his opinions, independent observations and news from his own life appear. An evaluation of all of Nürnberg's chronicles and a study into their mutual dependence has still not been undertaken, but is due to be done in the foreseeable future as a research project of the city?s archives. It is therefore a special ambition to acquire other examples, which are still in private hands throughout the world. When at the beginning of 1986 this rare opportunity arose, a donation from Karl Diehl made it possible to purchase 10 volumes, which were provisionally entered into the town's archives as numbers 116 to 125 in the collection F1 (chronicles). Six of them are chronicles in the actual sense of the word (where, in no. 118, there is a short history of the town in verse form). The other volumes contain more specific records of important families, the Nürnberg area, the early history of Franconia and - a special treasure trove for local historians! - of the laws and customs of the market town of Feucht. Three volumes (118, 120, 121) are specially illustrated with drawings, mostly colorful coats-of-arms.
Roof, Oriel and Facade of the House at Geiersberg 17
The air campaigns left shockingly few of Nürnberg's historic buildings standing. After the end of the war, however, along with the small number of buildings which had been spared, there were some houses that while still badly damaged, had not been completely destroyed. Nevertheless, almost all of them practically became new buildings after they were rebuilt in the following years and lost their historical substance and character as monuments. Such a fate also threatened the house at Geiersberg 17, which may well date from the 16th century and is a beautiful example of a small craftsman's workshop. In the war, it lost the roof truss, including the dormer window and since then has had a flat metal roof. The facade was coated with a modern plaster and the window was urgently in need of renewal. When the Friends of the Old Town won the rights to the house by acquiring the majority of the shares of a community of heirs, they planned to finally provide an example of a complete reconstruction of a partially destroyed property. The fact that this was able to happen without a long wait was thanks solely to a donation from Karl Diehl. In 1985, the new roof truss was fitted with exactly the same dimensions as before and the dormer window was reconstructed using pre-war photos. The roof was covered in old tiles that had been salvaged from a pile of rubble in another place. There was still enough money from the donation to uncover and reconstruct the facade. Today, the house is one of the most eye-catching sights in the area and one of the rare cases in which the small collection of Nürnberg's remaining historic buildings has actually experienced real growth.
A Drawing by Albrecht Dürer for the Germanic National Museum
Nürnberg has very few original works of its most famous artist. This is especially true in terms of the disgracefully meager collection of paintings. However, the Germanic National Museum also only has a relatively small collection of Albrecht Dürer's drawings, which seems near impossible to add to under today's conditions. It was a stroke of luck, then, that in 1986, it was made possible to acquire a small format original work of the master through Karl Diehl's donation as a patron. The drawing is a pen-and-ink drawing, only measuring 6.7x5.8 cm and has been enlarged by about a third on the opposite page. It shows a fluid, yet precise gold work design; we know that Dürer, the son of a goldsmith, had learned this craft first and that it stayed with him even as a painter for the rest of his life. Possibly the piece was intended for his brother, Endres, who had lived in Nürnberg since 1514 as a goldsmith. Chronologically, it is close to the style of the "Ehrenpforte" and the periphery illustrations in the prayer book of Emperor Maximilian, both of which were created in 1515. What kind of ornament the design is supposed to serve is not entirely clear; the malleable upper and flat lower design could, however, suggest the ornamental fitting for the end of a belt (according to Dr. Rainer Schoch). In any case, Nürnberg gained a work that, despite its small format, shows the versatility of Albrecht Dürer's work.
The House at upper Krämersgasse 16
The characteristic Nürnberg craftwork house, whose core dates back to the year 1342, was in desperate "need of renovation" even as early as 1961. In 1984, a leaflet warned: "Essence of the building in danger despite full occupancy," and when the Friends of the Old Town managed to buy it in 1989, the press described it as an "eyesore," "rat hole" and "pig sty". These reports also reached Karl Diehl, who decided to provide the opportunity for immediate renovation with a donation, knowing full well that any further delay would cause irreparable damage to the essence of the house. What followed was the perfect example of monument restoration, which probably no residence in Nürnberg can match. They were duty bound to maintain the historic essence in terms of every measurement; even the nooks and crannies of the rooms have been preserved (and perhaps explain the particularly accommodating atmosphere of the house today). The heart of the project is, as before, the inner courtyard, which had been built over, but now, with the utmost care and sensitivity, has been restored and, in parts, extended; even individual details, such as the new windows enjoyed a hand-made, tasteful design, which in earlier times was taken for granted. The conversation-promoting intimacy of such an "atrium" is clearly seen whenever the inhabitants chat from their balconies. More often, though, the voices of tourists and guides fill the courtyard as they discover an impressive example of salvaged residential old-Nürnberg culture.
A Drawing by Peter Cornelius for the Germanic National Museum
The most well-known and visited cultural institution of Nürnberg still remains the Germanic National Museum - 150 years old, but as ever, not a state collection, but an establishment that harks back to civilian idealism as the "property of the German nation" (as it was once stated above the entrance). No small number of Nürnbergers feel honored to have supported the museum: the same goes for Karl Diehl, who undertook the acquisition of the graphic shown for the copper engraving cabinet with a generous donation.
It is a fine pencil drawing, slightly embellished here in print, by Peter Cornelius (1783 ? 1867), an important exponent of the "Nazarene" group of artists at the beginning of the 19th century. The youthful Hebrew, Joseph, is shown in Egypt, calmly explaining the dream of the seven fat years and seven lean years to the enthroned Pharaoh, as his lordship's entourage watches tensely (1. Moses 41). The picture largely corresponds to one of six frescoes of the story of Joseph which were created in Rome in 1817 with the participation of Cornelius and mark the beginning of the Nazarene-romantic era of mural painting; they were transferred to Berlin in 1887 and can be seen there today in the National Gallery.
It is still a matter of debate as to whether the graphic was drawn before or after the fresco; the latter is more likely, but more exact investigations are necessary. The newly acquired piece, therefore, not only enriches the collections, but also adds to the reputation of the museum as center of artistic and cultural research of national importance.
The Inn Sign, Geiersberg 11
Some old Nürnberg inns carry imaginative names: Feiste Küche (The Fat Kitchen), Goldener Tisch (The Golden Table), Schmalzkübel (The Bucket of Lard), Himmelsleiter (Jacob's Ladder), Ofenloch (The Stove Door), Hundert-suppe (A Hundred Soups), Eisgrube (The Ice Pit) or Mausefalle (The Mouse Trap). Most, however, named themselves after an easily remembered house symbol such as Horse, Crown, Bear, Globe or Sun; some apparently inexplicable street names date back to these names (Adlerstraße [Eagle Street], Lammsgasse [Lamb Lane], Geiersberg [Vulture Hill], Sterngasse [Star Lane], Mohrengasse [Moor Lane], Weintraubengasse [Grape Lane] etc.). These symbols were either painted onto the wall of the establishment or hung from a truss to be seen from a distance; to a certain extent, they are the beginning of street advertising. After the baroque period, huge, richly decorated trusses arose from these, which often surpassed the limits of art. The war also destroyed this development: not one of the baroque, classical, biedermeier and later interpretations survived the bombing onslaught in Nürnberg. Should anybody today wish to make the old traditions of form known again and restrict any shallow nostalgic imitation, the only way is to look for good Franconian examples in antique stores.
Karl Diehl also supported this and enabled the Friends of the Old Town to acquire three original wrought-iron pieces from an antiques collector in the Würzburg district. The example shown is dated 1738 and corresponds to the style widely used throughout Franconia of a triangular protrusion and flag-like shield hanging down. This now carries the name of the small inn "Goldener Geier" (The Golden Vulture) that was first mentioned even in 1662 with the almost affectionate name "Zum gulden Geyerlein" (Ye Golden Vulture).
A Theorbo by Sebastian Schelle for The Germanic National Museum
Strictly speaking, several specialist museums are united under the banner of the Germanic National Museum, which are also important as independent collections: for example, the departments of sculptures, weapons, scientific devices, guild history, prehistoric finds, paintings, costumes or folklore. The collection of the history of music also belongs in this list with its numerous old, yet often still playable, exhibits.
The visitor may be surprised to find, in addition to the normal stringed instruments of today that are played by strumming, a multitude of instruments that are played by plucking the strings. In fact, the main example of these, the lute, blossomed from the 15th to the 17th century as an accompaniment for songs and in the orchestra. The lute differs from the guitar (the only plucked stringed instrument still commonly used today) in its pear-shaped body, which bulges towards the bottom, and its more or less cut-off neck.
Lutes with a lower tone range are called theorbos; most of them also have a second peg box, which is designed for the bass strings. Karl Diehl helped the museum to acquire one such particularly fine theorbo from 1728 with the proud length of 190 cm and an exquisite elaborately cut rosette; this was an addition, which was all the more thrilling due to the fact that this was a model by the highly respected Nürnberg lute maker Sebastian Schelle. The scale drawings in the background of the picture are to show that the museum's restoration workshops are currently trying to put the instrument back into fully working order.
Nürnberg Street Lanterns
When the first Nürnberg gas lanterns were lit in November 1847, "Scores of people went out into the streets to wonder at the beautiful bright light" - at a time when the only public source of light in other Bavarian towns was still provided by flickering reddish oil lanterns. Although the technical development soon progressed further in 1896, the simple bat's wing burners were replaced by gas mantles and in 1925, self-activated gas switches made the lantern lighters unnecessary, during this whole time, the outer form of the Nürnberg street lanterns remained almost unchanged. Is this simple lamp, then, not also a symbol of our ancestors? They themselves did without multi-armed, bombastic candelabras and remained loyal to the simple harmonious lantern with the high pyramid roof for a hundred years - thus not just betraying the old, natural Nürnberg thriftiness, but also perhaps an underlying sense of the historic image of the city.
When the last of these lanterns was extinguished in 1973, a general sense of regret soon emerged: people saw how the modern, shadow-less and uniform illumination of the streets affected the sense of space. In 1976, the Friends of the Old Town called on local factories to have apprentices build old Nürnberg street lanterns with electric mechanisms. Karl Diehl was one of the first to take it up. Since then, the apprentice workshop of his factory has produced a total of 14 lanterns, which still stylishly and adequately light the way home for Nürnbergers in the Burgviertel.
The Fountain in Gleißhammer
Since around 1860, Nürnberg has far outgrown the old town and the names of patricians' castles, lepers' houses, mills or farms that once stood in the open now mark narrowly built city areas with tens of thousands of residents. The same is true for Gleißhammer, where, since 1336, a hammer works stood on the dammed Goldbach, protected by a manor house in the middle of a lake (which has now almost disappeared behind the railway embankments of a triangular junction), but today, is an extensive residential and industrial quarter beset with the usual problems without a marked center. In this relatively insignificant built-up area, it was the job of the town planners to inject a few artistic touches here and there. Karl Diehl, whose headquarters are in this quarter, helped out. He donated a considerable sum for a modern fountain in front of the church of St. Kunigunden, which was built in 1934/35 in brick in strict forms influenced by the Romantic era.
The fountain by Norbert Zagel makes multiple use of semicircular forms as a contemporary echo of the church's rounded arches. The sculptor, however, also replaced the classical fountain form of a column in a single basin with a design of two arrows shooting away from each other that are only linked by a metal part, from which water flows into the small basins on each side. Perhaps one can properly understand the artist by thinking of his work as a fusion of strict, archaic forms with an imaginative freedom of form; in a sense, two essential characteristics of inertia and progress.
The Hinterhaus, Bergstraße 23
The house at Bergstraße 23 is an old "privileged bakery" where the oven smoked away for centuries until about 1960. On the courtyard side, there is a small rear building, the inside of which has no doors and almost no dividing walls and leads one to believe that it was used as a warehouse or shed (even though its position would be the traditional sleeping quarters of apprentices). A dendrochronological study of the half-timbered balconies showed it to date from 1605; according to this, the construction does belong to the basic layout of the bakery and was clearly used as an old craftwork. It was Karl Diehl who enabled the Friends of the Old Town to gain access and secure the dilapidated and empty building with a donation. In this way, its character as a warehouse could be preserved (that is, no rooms to be built inside) and expert handiwork could be performed on it all over.
The same is true for the staircase pictured, which is the solid work of a carpenter and stands in exactly the same place as it used to. The new brick plasterwork is laid in a stamped clay bed (corresponding to the earlier clay floor) and the sandstone of the rear wall was worked on piece by piece with a scraper. Visitors today are often surprised at the impressive effect of the simple building after this restoration. What is even more important, though, is that a dressmaker has moved in and opened shop, so that the craft tradition lives on and provides a credible image of the old town to contrast with the flamboyant kitsch of the neighboring pubs and stores.
A Copper Engraving by Veit Stoß for the Germanic National Museum
The unsettled artist's life of Veit Stoß was not just expressed in emigration, fines, denouncement and repeated disobedience to the council (which labeled him as an "incurable citizen" and a "false and loud man"), but also in his magnificent ability to reach out beyond the limits of his craft. "Veit Stoß is not just a sculptor, but also known for drawings, copper engravings, and paintings" according to his contemporary, Johann Neudörffer. Four painted reredos in Münnerstadt confirm this, as do ten copper engravings known so far by Stoß, of which there are only a few prints. They have long been in museums or public collections ? with one exception: a piece in American private hands, which was recently put up for sale on the English art market.
The Germanic National Museum was able to make full use of this unique opportunity with the help of Karl Diehl. The 20 x 15 cm work, marked with the letters F and S and the Stoß label, shows the Madonna with the equivocal image of the pomegranate that she holds by the stem somewhat decoratively like a flower. This detail shows that Stoß does not just work in the exact medium of sculpture; the fine, almost euphoric tenderness of the figure clearly stands apart from the life-like vitality of most of Stoß's sculpted Madonnas. This original graphic ability of the artist can at last now also be seen and studied in the form of a high quality original in Nürnberg, where there are more Stoß sculptures than any other city.
A Rediscovered Artistic Fountain by August von Kreling
The art of the late 19th century had a poor reputation for a long time. Some of its examples were put to one side and then, at best, stored away and forgotten. So it was for a dismantled small fountain from the green space in front of the Laufer Tor (Laufer Gate) (today: Rathenauplatz), which only gained interest again after more than 50 years when the Diehl company was looking for a work of art for the soon to be rebuilt former factory courtyard in Stephanstraße. In the meantime, we know full well that the artists of that time plied their trade with aplomb. The anatomical depiction of the fishing boy, his gestures of equal surprise and amazement in regards to his good catch and, in contrast, the jealous anticipation of the dog leave nothing to be desired. Furthermore, this was not just created by an unknown artist. The model is by the painter and sculptor August von Kreling, who in 1853, was called to Nürnberg to become the director of the school of art and in 1864, was even bestowed the honor of freeman of the city. The residents of the Laufer Tor, who sought out the piece after Kreling's death and had it cast in bronze at the art foundry in Lenz at their own cost, donated the fountain.
The work, then, did not have any intrinsic properties to influence where it should be located, but its aesthetic appeal alone meant that it would enrich the observer wherever it was situated.
When the fountain was presented to the city on 17th September 1881, thanks were given in its name by the Councilman Jäger with the words, "May we be thankful for our luck to have such a community that with expert eye and open hand ... stands by us. May such civil virtues never be lost from our city!" Such words would also fittingly honor the deeds of Karl Diehl more than a century later.
Building at Albrecht-Dürer-Straße 30
If, a few years ago, visitors to the Dürer-House looked out of the window, they were greeted by an empty building with blind windows and cracked, gray plaster - anything but a good advertisement for Nürnberg's tourism. Nobody regarded this building as being 500 years old: it was newly built in 1480 after a fire and had a floor added in 1520, the latter under the watch of Albrecht Dürer, who could see the building work from his living room. After a long break, the industrial period left behind the cast-iron shop-window front in 1892, and in 1905, a new dormer window was added. The war took a merciful detour around the house, but in the decades that followed without maintenance or care, it became an uninhabitable shell.
That changed in 1996, when the Friends of the Old Town tried to shoulder the massive burden by buying the house. Fortunately, the risk was worth it. Karl Diehl, as a knowledgeable Nürnberger decided to fund the entire renovation, which allowed the most demanding renovation work to take place - in the inner rooms (timber board lounge with art-deco stenciling, "balcony"), in the courtyard (medieval side wings) and in the unusually deep cellar. The shop, with its exposed tiling and wall and ceiling painting is a reminder that sausage and "Pressack" (a type of Franconian sausage) were once sold over the counter here; indeed, now the museum shop of the Dürer-House has moved in and some far-flung tourist might wonder for a moment whether to enter the original room right away or whether to photograph the painted facade beforehand.