Champagne meets at Wiesbaden Art Nouveau

Paul Bonatz was the architect of the Wiesbaden Henkell headquarters. The Art Nouveau is present here in discreet details. Photo: Henkell & Co.

Paul Bonatz was the architect of the Wiesbaden Henkell headquarters. The Art Nouveau is present here in discreet details.
Photo: Henkell & Co.

WIESBADEN – We are on the gravel, and the symmetrical arcade embraces the visitors. The sparkling wine cellar Henkell on the Biebricher Allee prepares a truly magnificent reception. But where is the Art Nouveau style, please? The group gathered at the court of honor finally came to investigate this phenomenon of the penultimate turn of the century. Since June 29, the National Museum has presented the best of Art Nouveau on 800 square meters. The new permanent exhibition is due to the donation of the private collection of Ferdinand Wolfgang Neess. The "New Year Art" program, proclaimed on this occasion in Wiesbaden, now includes a special visit to Henkell & Co .: "Art Nouveau accents in architecture and advertising".

At first sight, Art Nouveau seems rather absent in representative architecture. The construction of the architect Paul Bonatz, born in 1877, is neoclassical with its gable facade, as Barbara Burkardt explains. The competent archivist in Henkell's art historians is, so to speak, the Art Nouveau representative of the company and will manage the building until January 2020.

The style is detailed in the facade, she says, referring to the plant aspect of stonemason decoration under the windows and the sweeping of the putti, whose penchant for grapes has become a trademark . But above all: "The wine itself grows with us." Barbara Burkardt refers to the green colonnade: "The inclusion of nature comes from the Art Nouveau style."

Nature also includes daylight entering the building through glazed roofs: "It was part of Bonatz's philosophy". The design of the young architect, implemented from 1907 to 1909, had to quickly convince the young manager: "That's what you want." Me, Otto Henkell said. The contractor from Mainz needed more space for his new business. Practically, it did not take much excavation on the site of an old gravel pit to make way for a "bulk cellar". The visible building is only the tip of the iceberg: a staircase descends through several floors. At the Adam winery level, the impression of the huge barrel of Ariane awaits visitors.


The tour "Art Nouveau accents in architecture and advertising", including a sparkling wine tasting, will take place every two weeks on Friday at 4 pm on the Biebricher Allee 142 every two weeks on Friday and will last from 1.5 to 2 hours. Next date is July 26th. Telephone registration required: 0611-630.

But before that, we cross the richly decorated marble room, whose original condition was much more sober and closer to the Art Nouveau. In 1929, the entire room was redesigned in a neo-rococo style: "They wanted the room to be more glittering." An invaluable Art Nouveau detail remained in the room: René Lalique's workshop boasts a rock crystal chalice in a Lalique-designed showcase still admired today. Employees gave the honorary cup to their boss, Otto, for them to move in: "For the opening, they all drank as in the Lord's Supper." In fact, the museum object would fit perfectly into a staged "Parsifal". By the end of the working day, the chalice should have been driven into the wooden sanctuary with a crank mechanism: "a sacred ritual".

A wooden religious sculpture in the "Salon Blauer", the centerpiece of the Art Nouveau building, testifies to the fact that Henkell Sakrales was well connected to the laymen in the company's corporate culture. The object, probably a saint, hangs from a paneled wall in the immediate vicinity of an allegorical Art Nouveau painting, which shows the wine's path to sparkling wine. While you can try to end the tour with home-grown products, lie back on the historic bar tables with historic wine lists. The Art Nouveau is undeniable in advertising designed by great contemporary artists. For example, you see a goat-footed satyr drinking alcohol in front of a naked nymph. The architecture of Paul Bonatz, whose main work was Stuttgart's central station, is less Dionysian on the outside. But their charisma still motivates employees today, says Barbara Burkardt when she leaves. In keeping with this holistic approach that was part of the Art Nouveau program.