Archive for the ‘Latvian Jugendstil in Riga’ Category



Janis Rozentāls (1866 – 1916). Dubultportrets. Pašportrets ar sievu. 1905.



Martin Munkácsi: Frida Kahlo és Diego Rivera. Mexikó, 1933.  / Martin Munkácsi: Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. Mexico, 1933.



Mihails (Mikhail) Eizenšteins (1867—1921)




1867—1921 in Riga, Latvia



Eisenstein took inspiration from Paris 1900 World Exhibition, and this interest is reflected in his style.  Lazdiņa House in Elizabeth Street 33 facade  is the first Eisenstein design making use of a particularly rich sculptural elements. In 1903  projects he began the construction of the house in Albert Street 8 (owner A. Pole). In the same year started facade in Iljaševa / von Hanovskas rental house and shop 10a Elizabeth Street, as well as rent and store house of Elizabeth Street, 10b, whose owner was a high-ranking Russian government official. In the following two years Eisenstein designed the three buildings at Alberta: Alberta Street 6 Albert Street 13 (both – 1904) and Albert Street 4 (1905). In 1905 designed Mitusova S. School Street Riflemen 4a, as well as P.Šteinberga House .

Eisenstein façades have a rich, powerful sculptural use of the plastic compositions, the direct result of Historicism buildings typical facade decor with emphasis on the principles of geometrical one. Decor widely used characteristic motifs of Art Nouveau style, as well as those who inherit from Historicism and heraldry (for example, griffin, lions, dragons, etc.), thereby producing an impressive look. Plastically, the rich ornament motives creates strong light typify contrasts, the contrast principle is also dominant in the treatment of same theme, focusing on naturalistic or stylized powerful solution. Facades also used typical Art Nouveau decoration of glazed brick and plastered surfaces , in some cases, focusing on the unusual window shape solution (as in Elizabeth Street 10a.

Eisenstein building decor consists of anthropomorphic nature of the theme expressive decor, or – conversely – the static solution, as well as the ability to create emotionally impacting decorations, combining  zoomorphic motive and fantastic elements, balancing between the beautiful and terrible.

Eisenstein facade decor theme was inspired by the work of O. Wagner School, as well from the decorative ideas taken from Historicism of Vienna and Paris II Empire style buildings.  The somewhat eclectic style of citations (mannerism grotesque ornament, ancient Greek, ancient Oriental civilization, etc. themes), as well as contemporary sources (Rene Lalika jewelery, Otto Morning architectural fantasies, etc.). he also revitalized the use of castle aesthetic, with a taste of neogothic revival (J. Lazdiņa House Elizabeth Street 33, A.Ļebedinska tenements Alberta Street 6 and 13), complementing the decor of the then modern accents.


Elizabetes iela 10b 1903


Strēlnieku iela 4a 1905


Elizabetes iela 33 1901


Elizabetes iela 10a 1903


Alberta iela 8 1903


Alberta iela 6 1903


Alberta iela 4 1904


Alberta iela 2 1906


Alberta iela 13 1904



 picture503 Eizensteins_Alberta_4_zimejums



Eižens Laube



22 May, 1880, Riga – 21 July 1967, Portland, Oregon, USA



In the beginning of 20th century, when Riga architecture school flourished and gained foothold, already the third generation of professional Latvian architects after J. F. Blaumanis and K. Pēkšēns started their creative work. This generation was fronted by Eižens Laube. Architecture styles and artistic trends one after another were swiftly substituted by new ones. At the beginning of the century eclectism was substituted by Art Nouveau, 20ies saw the development of functionalism and 30ies also a parallel development of neo-eclectism. E. Laube was always in the very centre of these stylistic twists and turns. He contributed immensely to the progress of event both as architect – practitioner, architect – theoretician and also teacher. In Riga alone more than 200 buildings have been built, reconstructed and renovated according to his designs, among them about 80 multi-storey stonework construction projects. Eižens Laube was born in Riga on the 25th of May, 1880. His father Kārlis Teodors Laube (1862-1920) was a master pottery craftsman and trader. He had arrived in Riga from the north of Vidzeme region where his ancestors had been farmers and craftsmen for many generations. Already as a boy Eižens Laube got acquainted with construction work and projects – his mother’s stepfather was in construction business. Thus Eižens’ interest in architecture arose and in 1899, after graduating from Realschule named after Peter I, he enrolled in Riga Polytechnical Institute, architecture department. In his student days he stood out among others with his brilliant artistic talent and outstanding work capability, and reached professional maturity quite early. In 1900 alongside with his studies Eižens started working in K.Pēkšēns’ construction design firm, where a study colleague of his, Aleksandrs Vanags, was also employed. In 1904 Laube went to Finland together with Vanags. There he admired buildings designed by L. Sonck, E. Saarinen, A. Lindgren, H. Gesellius and established personal contact with the Finnish architects G. Lindberg and K. Wasastjerna. Later Laube travelled even more to improve his professional skills – in 1909 he visited Sweden, Denmark and Germany and in 1910 – Germany and France. In 1906 he graduated from the Riga Polytechnical Institute with the diploma of engineer architect. He worked for K. Pēkšēns for one more year and then in 1907 opened his own architectural design firm that soon became one of the largest in Riga. At the same time he was invited to teach at this own Alma Mater, and E. Laube became associate professor at RPI at the age of 27. He lectured on theoretical subjects as well as conducted classes in drawing and architecture design. At a time when teachers at the institute were all local Germans and education in architecture had slipped into a certain stagnation, the young Latvian associate professor brought a multitude of fresh and new things into academic work. E. Laube worked as a teacher also elsewhere. From 1907 to 1908 he taught technical drawing and construction forms at the technical department of Public courses, established by him, J. Rozentāls and A. Vanags at the Riga Latvian Society. Starting from the year 1909 E. Laube together with architects W. Bockslaff and K. Felsko was the official counsellor in art matters of Riga City Council building authority. He was also invited to be in the jury of several big contests, for instance, in 1910 he was the judge of projects for Ozoliņš’ tenement building at 88 Brīvības Street in Riga and in 1912 participated in the jury of the international project contest for Tallinn town hall. E. Laube also participated in several contests with his own projects, and did that with remarkable success – before 1912 nine of his works were prize-winners of various project contests. During World War I he closed down his firm and together with the Riga Polytechnical Institute evacuated to Moscow in 1915. In 1917 E. Laube returned to Riga and continued working in the field of architecture education. In University of Latvia he was in charge of one of the architecture design workshops, workshop „A”, and during certain periods of time was also the dean of the faculty and even the rector of the University. In 1920 E. Laube became a professor and in 1930 – Honorary doctor of architecture. From 1924 to 1936 he was the chairman of Commission of architectonic matters at National building committee, in 1937 he was elected corresponding member of Royal Institute of British Architects. In 1940 E. Laube was awarded the Fatherland Award, he is also the bearer of Three-Star Order, the Cross of Recognition and the Swedish Royal Order of Vasa. In 1944, just like many other Latvian intellectuals, he emigrated. At first he lived in Berlin, then in 1950 moved to the USA, worked in an architecture design office in Olympia, Washington, and since 1955 lived in Portland, Oregon, where he spent the rest of his life. During the course of his very fruitful life E. Laube has published a great number of articles on different issues concerning the art of building, from the much-quoted essay „On the style of building” („Zalktis” – 1908. – issue No 4. – pages 145 through 148) to the impressive volume of the book „Writings on architecture” (Lincoln, Nebraska, 1960 – 205 pages). He has immensely contributed to the theory of architecture with his „Logic of colour and shape” (Riga, 1921. – 74 pages) and in his final years in Portland E. Laube wrote a manuscript of nearly 700 pages in typescript – „Manifestation of Architecture” which can now be found at the Architecture museum of Riga. However, the most significant part of the master’s heritage is his buildings. A vast majority of them were created before World War I – during a time when Riga was experiencing a building boom. The first works by Laube saw daylight in the firm of K. Pēkšēns. There is at least half a dozen of them and all are fine monuments of architecture.



Brīvības iela 62



Alberta iela 11


Brīvības iela 47


Brīvības iela 37


Lāčplēša iela 51


Brīvības iela 59 (with Oskar Bars)


Ģertrūdes iela 23


Aleksandra Čaka iela 26 (with Konstantīns Pēkšēn)


Alberta iela 12 (with Konstantīns Pēkšēn)





When I finally was able to spend some time in Riga (one of the must see city for anyone who’s an Art Nouveau addicted) I was informed about the existence of an Jugendstil museum, right in the outstanding zone between Alberta and Elizabetes iela, where are also located the masterpieces of the Latvian architect Mikhail Eisenstein.

At the number 13 of Elizabetes iela is located the museum. The building itself is an apartment house designed in 1904 by Kostantins Peksens, one of the most famous Latvian architect at the turn of the Century.

The building itself, maybe, shouldn’t be considered one of the major work of Peksens. The building is still filled with eclectic elements, with the roof contour heavily influenced by late German renaissance style.

The very interesting part of the building resides in its interior. The apartment on last floor was loaned by the famous symbolist Latvian painter Janis Rozentals (and, eventually, that apartment hosts now the Rozentals museum in Riga) who was friend and often cooperates with Peksens himself. For that reason, most of the internal common areas of the apartment house is fully decorated by Rozentals’ own design. So the main entrance presents four frescos:


And the staircase is filled by abstract symbolist decorative elements, due to Rozentals himself, which represents an outstanding evidence of the excellence reached by the Latvian decorative art at the turn of the Century. The paintings and the stairs were fully restored, and are now in incredible PROOF condition:



The former apartment at the first floor is now hosting the museum itself. again, the walls and roof of the apartment-museum is also fully decorated and restored



The decoration in this case is mostly stylized floral elements with some pure abstract ones. Lines are curved and flexuous, colors delicate and pastels . Again, the restoration was performed at highest professional level. In some part you can still see the original situation prior the restoration process:


Finally the museum. Really it is a reconstruction of the flat original environment. All the furniture was restored or chosen close to the original. The philological work  behind was so accurate that one of the museum assistant told me she regrets one heating convector was lost and they had to chose one which is probably close to the original one but they actually haven’t any evidence. Overall impression entering the museum is really being introduced into a living flat of a middle class turn of the century family:


I was impressed this small lecture corner surrounded by windows, and just like placed by a huge carved wood frame:


Everything is restored, placed and preserved with such an accurate and professional way that, really, visiting the museum enforced my idea that Riga is more than just one of the capital of Jugendstil, Art Nouveau. Latvian are not simply hosting that heritage, they are proud of their own artists and masterpieces of the turn of the Century. This is a way mostly of the other so called capital cities of Art Nouveau trough Europe should achieve, one day, hopefully …