The Augsburger Klebealbum – a cultural history rarity
The exhibition “The Perfect Paper Household. Upper middle-class life at the time of Mozart”from 24 September 2014 at the Imperial Furniture Collection • Furniture Museum Vienna presents a real treasure of cultural history: the Augsburger Klebealbum, a minutely detailed “dolls house” in book form.
The album displays the rooms within an upper middle-class household in Augsburg around 1780, arranged into 19 tableaus, populated by the house's residents, servants and guests.
People, furniture and household items were cut out from printed illustrations and affixed in the scrapbook album, revealing to attentive observers an upper middle-class household of the time in minute and affectionately crafted detail.
More than 160 exhibition items (from small pieces of furniture, tableware and paintings to everyday objects) bring elements depicted in miniature in the tableaus to life in their true dimensions, and thus provide a lively and illustrative encounter with a “perfect household” from the late 18th century.
What was a "Klebealbum”?
A “Klebealbum” (scrapbook) was an illustrated book, in which blank sheets were decorated by hand, using pen and ink, watercolour and gouache, to depict the architecture of interior spaces, gardens and street scenes. The scenes were brought to life with miniature versions of figures and objects, cut out from printed sheets, coloured and pasted into the album.
A scrapbook was thus a two-dimensional alternative to a toy house and served not only a playful but also an educational purpose, as an example of dexterity and an opportunity to learn in great detail about running a household and bringing up children.
For today's observers, an album such as this offers a wealth of new discoveries: fashion, the culture of living and cuisine of the day, kitchen design and family life are all depicted here in highly detailed form. Since scrapbook albums were seen as everyday objects at the time of their creation, very few of them have survived intact.
The Augsburg Klebealbum
The Augsburg Klebealbum displayed at the Imperial Furniture Collection is seen as one of the finest examples of its kind, and was produced between 1780 and 1786 for Regina Barbara Walther
(1754–1834). The house represented in the album, no. D 285 on Annaplatz in Augsburg,
is the home of her father, the jeweller Johann Georg Walther (d. 1787).