Fuggerhouse

Augsburg, Germany

Background

The grand Fuggerhouse in Augsburg was the home of several generations of the Fugger banking families, one of the richest and most powerful European banking families of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Hieronymous Fugger, a nephew of Jacob Fugger “the Rich,” the founder of the dynasty, purchased several houses along Maximilianstrasse in central Augsburg, and unified them into a single residence. From 1569 to 1573 new interiors were created under the supervision of Friedrich Sustris, the principal German mannerist painter who had studied under Giorgio Vasari in Florence. The rooms incorporated frescoes, plaster sculptures, and carved wooden panels executed by German and Italian artists. The Muse Room and the Zodiac Room are the most significant and intact interiors of the palace, inspired by the aesthetic concepts promoted by the ducal court in Munich during the late Renaissance period.

How We Helped

The arches of the Muse Room were partially destroyed during World War II. In 1968, they were restored, however the inappropriate use of materials have since contributed to deterioration of the wall frescoes. Both the Muse and Zodiac rooms were damaged by water infiltration. In 2002, trial conservation methods were implemented in the Zodiac Room through funds from the Bavarian State Authority for Monuments Preservation; however, it remained closed pending the restoration of the Muse Room. In 2007, WMF initiated a conservation program in the Muse Room. Wall paintings were cleaned. Other elements that were cleaned and repaired were made to the wooden crown molding, stucco decorative elements, and terracotta details. This project finished in spring 2012.

Why It Matters

The Fuggerhouse is important on a number of levels. It occupies the largest amount of space of any building along Maximilianstrasse, one of the central historic streets in Augsburg, and is an exceptional example of conspicuous consumption due to its large size and frescoed exterior. The interior includes decorations by several well-known artists: frescoes by Antonio Ponzano, plaster sculptures and reliefs by Carlo di Cesare del Palagio, and elaborately carved wooden panels by Wendel Dietrich. The Fugger merchant banking family took over the role of the most powerful financial family in Europe from the Medicis, who, in the sixteenth century, became nobility and royalty. The Fuggers’ network reached as far afield as South America, Africa, and India. Clients included several Popes, a number of Habsburg emperors, Spain, Portugal, England, and Hungary, as well as the Medici family of Florence.

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