Development

The art nouveau facilities in Bad Nauheim were erected between 1904 and 1912. The art-loving Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig of Hesse and by Rhine authorized the young architect Wilhelm Jost with the design. As the number of spa guests was steadily increasing, new spa facilities had become necessary. In order to ensure the ideal use of the thermal brine with its natural warmth and the freely dissolved carbon dioxide, 265 bathing cubicles were created.

Since the mid 19th century Bad Nauheim had developed to an internationally acclaimed spa town. As the dated bath houses in half-timbered style did not meet the growing demand of an international bathing audience any longer, these were replaced by new, larger bathing- and spa facilities.

Sovereign Ernst Ludwig, founder of the famous artists' colony in Darmstadt, the “Mathildenhöhe”, handed the projects management over to Wilhelm Jost, an architect originating from Darmstadt. The young architect enjoyed great artistic freedom planning and implementing the project. He was assisted by sculptor Heinrich Jobst, ceramicist Jakob Julius Scharvogel, painter Friedrich Wilhelm Kleukens and co-architect Albin Müller. As a team they shaped the facade of the “Sprudelhof” which was both artistically and technologically at the height of its time.

Characteristic to Bad Nauheim's Art Nouveau is the versatile use of ornamental elements which indicates the crucial reference point of the facility – water and its healing power: marine creatures, nymphs, mermaids, waves and always bubbles of carbon dioxide. While the exterior facade of the “Sprudelhof” is characterized by simple shapes in ‘new Baroque style’, the interior fascinates with veritable Art Nouveau. An independent style developed in Bad Nauheim based on examples of the Renaissance and Baroque periods with ornamental shapes of the late Darmstadt Art Nouveau.

The development is best observed by looking at the different bath houses: Bath Houses 4 and 5 portray typical floral elements whereby in Bath Houses 3 and 7 the transition to geometric features becomes visible. Unique to all is that everything has been originally preserved – waiting halls, inner courtyards and the bathtubs in Bath House 3 sent visitors back in time to the 1900's!

The turn of the 20th century was a time of economic growth. In Europe, the Art Nouveau movement emerged from the social circumstances lasting from 1890 to 1914. Pioneer was the Arts and Crafts movement in England in the second half of the 19th century. The new art movement, a phenomenon in the artistic development, perceived itself as a life reform movement with new aesthetics. 

The German word for Art Nouveau is “Jugendstil” (youth style) which was derived from the magazine “Jugend” (youth), founded in 1896 in Munich.

Major European centers were Brussels, Nancy, Vienna, Barcelona, Glasgow, Helsinki and in Germany Darmstadt, Munich and Weimar. The art movement was searching for new designs to pervade all areas of art and life, such as architecture, sculpting, painting, graphics but also poetry, music, dance and fashion. Preferred motifs derived from flora and fauna to include dynamic movements, constantly recurring curves and undulations, curved endings and carved ornaments. However, parallel to this, an abstract-geometrical art movement emerged, each country with its own particular idea and design.