Databáze uměleckých výstav v českých zemích 1820 – 1950

German-Czech Exhibition in Liberec (Reichenberg)

Date:17. May 1906 – 30. September 1906

Place: Liberec, Art pavillion

Exhibition design:Max Fabiani, Josef Zasche

Organizer:Exhibition committee

Conception:Fritz Hegenbart, Wenzel Franz Jäger, Alfred Kastil, Wilhelm Klein, Karl Krattner, Franz Metzner, H. A. Schmid, Richard Teschner, Franz Thiele, Josef Zasche


The 1906 German-Czech Exhibition in Liberec (Reichenberg) was a response to the 1891 Anniversary Exhibition in Prague which, aside from a few exceptions, featured no Czech Germans due to escalating national conflicts. The Liberec show focused on economic and cultural development in the (mostly) German speaking regions of Bohemia and emphasized their uniqueness. The origins of the exhibition date back to the end of the 19th century; it was preceded by the Universal German Exhibition held in 1903 in Ústí nad Labem.

An impressive exhibition centre was built for the show above the newly built Harcov dam on undeveloped land provided by Count Franz Clam-Gallas. Max Fabiani, a Vienna-based architect and a student of Otto Wagner, created the overall urban design and also designed the main pavilion. The exhibition grounds spread over 400,000 m2 and contained 80 low-cost, temporary structures. These pavilions were designed by Josef Zasche, Jacob Schmeissner, Rudolf Scholze, Anton Worf, Anton Mӧller, Georg Karau, Karl Gӧtze, Robert Hemmrich, the duos Max Kühn – Heinrich Fanta and Viktor Kraus – Kleofas Hollmann, Adolf Loos and others. The exhibition was a major contribution to the city's development – in addition to establishing a temporary tram line, the city built a new water and sewage system. 

Next to pavilions showcasing industrial and craft products, agricultural production, trade and the history of the city and the Clam-Gallas estate, the exhibition had a separate fine arts pavilion designed by Josef Zasche, a native of Jablonec nad Nisou (Gablonz). This progressive, Darmstadt-inspired structure combined geometrical Art-Nouveau with idiosyncratic modernism and was accessible via a front staircase culminating in a central part with two side wings. The entrance was adorned with large statues by Franz Thiele and luxury mosaics by Franz Metzner. The architecture of the entire exhibition grounds received well-deserved attention in the press [e.g. Kühn 1906]. Art was also exhibited in the pavilion of the Liberec Municipal House which housed the collection of the Liberec industrialist and collector Heinrich Liebieg. Artworks, such as the model of the Liberec fountain by Franz Metzner, were also placed in other pavilions and public spaces.

The task of organizing the exhibition in the fine arts pavilion was entrusted to the Gesselschaft zur Fӧrderung der deutschen Wissenschaft, Kunst und Literatur (Society for the Promotion of German Science, Art and Literature) with the support of the C. C. Ministry of Culture and Education; the actual selection was carried out by a committee headed by Franz Thiele, professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague. The exhibition contained  259 artworks by 59 artists, including paintings, prints, sculptures and a small architectural section presenting, among others, Josef Zasche's design for a catholic church and Rudolf Bitzan's design for the train station in Karlsruhe. To understand the significance of this art exhibition, it is necessary to remember that Czech Germans had no exhibition space of their own that would be comparable, for instance, to the building of the Mánes Association. The Liberec art show presented a unique opportunity to show that Czech Germans were capable of organizing such an event and of offering a high-quality selection to the broad, mostly German-speaking public. However, the organizers' approach “led to the creation of a somewhat heterogeneous group mixing together different generations of artists of diverse beliefs and approaches depending on where they studied or worked. These were mostly artists presenting works in line with the main artistic trends of the period: Art Nouveau, Post-Impressionism and Symbolism.” [Habánová 2016, p. 160] In his review for Deutsche Kunst und Dekoration, Hugo Haberfeld called the exhibition “a powerful document of German work in Bohemia.” He was clearly familiar with the local situation as he divided the exhibiting artists into two groups as either “shining, brisk talents” or “impenetrable, struggling talents” [Haberfeld 1906, p. 139]. German-language periodicals generally viewed the show positively, claiming in one case that it “contained the best works by our artists” [anonymous author 1906a]. However, most newspaper articles repeated and adopted information from the extensive text published under the initials H. Sch. in Reichenberger Zeitung.

The Liberec exhibition received considerable attention in the Czech press but the reviews were mostly critical and derisive. The same was true of the fine arts part of the show. For example, the review published in Národní listy declared that “if the industrial exhibition in Liberec did not impress much, the art exhibition aroused even less admiration." [anonymous author 1906b]. It is clear that on both sides, political sympathies overshadowed the sense for constructive criticism. 

Petr Kratochvíl – Anna Habánová

Works Cited

Habánová 2016: Anna Habánová, Současné výtvarné umění jako obhajoba existence českých Němců / Die zeitgenössische bildende Kunst als Argument zur Verteidigung der deutschböhmischen Existenz, in: eadem (ed.), 1906 Německočeská výstava Liberec – 1906 Deutschbӧhmische Ausstellung Reichenberg, Liberec 2016, pp. 158–211
Kühn 1906: Max Kühn, Die deutsch-böhmische Ausstellung Reichenberg 1906, Der Bautechniker XXVI, 1906, no. 35, 31. 8., pp. 757–760
anonymous author 1906a: anonymous author, Der Kaiser in Böhmen, Prager Tagblatt XXX, 1906, no. 171, 23. 6., pp. 1–2
anonymous author 1906b: anonymous author, Českoněmecká výstava v Liberci (conclusion), Národní listy XXXXVI, 1906, no. 246, 6. 9., p. 1

Further Reading

Erhard Arnold, Die Deutschbӧhmische Ausstellung Reichenberg, 1906. Industrie-, Gewerbe-, Kunst- und Landschafts-Ausstellung der Deutschen in Bӧhmen, Reichenberg 1909
Hugo Haberfeld, Deutsch-bӧhmische Kunst auf der Reichenberger Ausstellung Mai – Oktober 1906, Deutsche Kunst und Dekoration IXX, 1906–1907, pp. 139–160
anonymous author, Reichenberg und die deutschbӧhmische Ausstellung, Reichenberg 1906

Archival Sources

Liberec State Archives (fonds Archiv města Liberce, část GD, Deutschbӧhmische Ausstellung, sign. 550/4), Liberec City Hall, Archive of the National Gallery Prague

Exhibiting authors
German-Czech Exhibition in Liberec (Reichenberg)
Technique: colour lithograph, 100 x 70 cm
Owner: North Bohemian Museum Liberec

Ausstellung Deutschböhmischer Künstler, Reichenberg 1906


Place and year of Publication: Liberec 1906

Reviews in the press

Anonym, Liberecká česko-německá výstava, Národní listy XXXXVI, 1906, no. 245, 5. 9., p. 1; no. 246, 6: 9., p. 1


Anonym, Die Deutschböhmische Ausstellung in Reichenberg, Neue Freie Presse (Morgenblatt), 1906, no. 14965, 22. 4., pp. 2–3


Anonym, Der Kaiser in Böhmen, Prager Tagblatt XXX, 1906, no. 171, 23. 6., pp. 1–2


Anonym, Stimmen der Presse über die Deutschböhmische Austellung Reichenberg 1906, Reichenberger Zeitung XLVII, 1906, no. 125, 27. 5., p. 2

Bauer Albert

Albert Bauer, Deutschböhmische Ausstellung Reichenberg 1906, Reichenberger Zeitung XLVII, 1906, no. 125, 27. 5., p. 2

Haberfeld Hugo

Hugo Haberfeld, Deutsch-bӧhmische Kunst auf der Reichenberger Ausstellung Mai – October 1906, Deutsche Kunst und Dekoration IXX, 1906–1907, pp. 139–160


H. Sch., Die Ausstellung der Deutschböhmischen Künstlerschaft, Reichenberger Zeitung XXXXVII, 1906, no. 125, 27. 5., pp. 2–3 


H. Sch., Die Ausstellung Deutschböhmischer Künstler 1–5, Reichenberger Zeitung XXXXVII, 1906, 27. 5., 28. 9., no. 230, 28. 9., pp. 7–8 

Kühn Max

Max Kühn, Die deutsch-böhmische Ausstellung Reichenberg 1906, Der Bautechniker XXVI, 1906, no. 35, 31. 8., pp. 757–760

Urban W.

W. Urban, Deutschbӧhmische Ausstellung in Reichenberg, Prager Tagblatt XXX, 1906, no. 104, 15. 4. , pp. 49–52 

Views of the exhibition

Fine Arts Pavilion – Josef Zasche


Photo: Ernst Müller

State District Archives Liberec

Interior of the Fine Arts Pavilion
reproduction: Erhard Arnold, Deutschbӧhmische Ausstellung, Reichenberg 1909
Brief notes about the exhibition

Anonymous author, Výstava Němců v Čechách, Lidové noviny XIV, 1906, no. 135, 17. 5., p. 2 

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