Götz, Ferdinand (1874-1941)

Götz, Ferdinand (1874-1941)

Ferdinand Götz was a distinguished German painter, illustrator and interior designer.

Known for his sharp suits and sporting a monocle, Götz would’ve cut quite a figure. Working primarily in Munich, he developed a reputation for his witty drawings and advanced taste in decor. He was exceedingly busy - designing sets for the theatre, interiors for hotels, and working for various magazines as a draughtsman and caricaturist.

His training was undertaken at the Academy of Fine Arts Munich under German-American artist Carl von Marr (1858-1936), who appears to have been a key influence. Von Marr excelled at drawing and his portraits carry a sense of spirit, which Götz replicated in his own.

Here, in this piece from 1909, two figures in costume are sitting rather pensively within a lavish interior. She wears a voluminous pink floral dress from the mid-19th century while his outfit is a little earlier. It’s a ‘lost in time’ vision, a deliberate fantasy. The room is tastefully decorated with various ornaments and features a bold colour scheme. 

Ferdinand Götz

His illustrative work often bordered on the surreal. In a cover piece for the magazine ‘Jugend’, a Pierrot staggers back, seemingly impaled by a peacock’s feather, while others look on from the shadows. It’s all rather sinister. 

Ferdinand Götz

By the 1920s, he was predominantly known as an interior designer (although referred to as an architect). In a glowing review, a critic described the living spaces in his own home, in which “the main thing is a happy, almost flirtatious play with grace”. He also remarked on his aptitude for designing rooms for women: “Then the ladies' room, also from Götz's apartment. Nobody needed to be told that it was a ladies' room. Doesn't every part, as well as the union of all these parts, express that this is the kingdom of a woman.”

Over the course of a noteworthy career, his illustrations and paintings were shown at numerous exhibitions including the Munich Secession and the Glaspalast. Sadly, as an artist of Jewish descent, he was denaturalised in 1941 and his date of death remains unconfirmed. He probably died in Paris.


Munich Secession, Glaspalast in Munich, Düsseldorf, Künstlerhaus in Vienna, Vienna Artists’ Association.



Born Ferdinand Samuel Götz in Fürth, Germany.


Moved to Munich.

Studied at the Academy of Fine Arts Munich under German-American artist Carl von Marr (1858-1936) and others.

His tutor’s influence is evident in his early portraits. 


Worked for ‘Meggendorfer Blatter’, a satirical magazine, and as a draughtsman/caricaturist. 


Began working for ‘Flying Leaves’.
Shown at the Munich Secession. (Conventional portraits) 
Married Marie Henriette Karol Ihlenfeldt in Mecklenburg-Strelitz, North Germany.


Began working for the German magazine ‘Jugend’ as an illustrator. 


Shown at the Munich Secession.
Shown at the Glaspalast, Munich.


Shown at the Munich Secession.
Shown in Düsseldorf.
Awarded a gold medal by the Vienna Artists’ Association for his oil painting ‘Temptation of St. Antonius’.


Shown in Düsseldorf.


Involved in the interior decoration of the new fourth floor of the Grand Hotel Continental, Munich.


Shown at the Künstlerhaus, Vienna.


Served in the German Army during World War I.


Primarily lived abroad due to the anti-semitic nature of National Socialism.


Moved to Monaco, France.
Died in Paris (date of death is assumed).


Review published in ‘Ewald Pauls Aufsatz Zur Innendekoration’ (1919).

“It was around the middle of 1913 when the Munich architect Ferdinand Götz was first reported in this place. Barely six years - and yet it sometimes seems as if it were sixty, yes, as if that happy time, that true golden age, to which the year of salvation 1913 still belongs, never existed. But all of us who engage with the beautiful things in life, especially art, through creativity or reflection, have not lost the memory of the hopes and possibilities that made every work a pleasure back then. Constantly growing wealth had created the indispensable basis for the flourishing of all luxury art, and an infinitely lively competition between individual artists and directions had increased the technical performance and the purely artistic potency to a degree that beyond that, be it in... material or taste-wise, hardly seemed possible anymore. In short: modern German housing art had reached a peak in its development immediately before the war, of which we had every reason to be proud. 

And today? If we want to answer correctly, we must distinguish strictly between what is and what can become. It hardly needs to be emphasised that the achievements of the unprecedented upswing before 1914 have not yet been seriously called into question by the war and its consequences. A large number of the artists and architects who were the bearers and promoters of that progress are still alive, and it is not good to assume that the involuntary break from work has paralyzed their abilities. The same applies to the craftsmen, the executive bodies of the artists.

But things look different when we ask how everything should be in the future; because a development of interior design is only conceivable if, as before, the most important prerequisites, namely wealth and the desire for elegant comfort, remain present. Has the war increased the number of people who want to be decorated tastefully and artistically? We doubt it for now. And whether there will still be wealth in the coming Germany will there be something that can make a living for interior designers? Who can know? Things look bad enough for now. And at the moment we have no guarantee other than hope that things will change for the better.

The concern for the preservation of all the delicious and irretrievable things that the last decades have given us now dominates us so exclusively that the sight of the beautiful often makes us feel nostalgic and makes us think of the impending loss. But fortunately, such upsets don't last long. The power of art proves itself again and again. And before we really know how it happened, Ferdinand Gotz has triumphed in his usual way and forced us under the spell of his compositions of surfaces and bodies, lines and colours. One remembers again that Götz was not on a direct basis not only that he got to where we see him
today, but that he was originally a painter.

It is important to keep reminding yourself of this fact; because it explains in the simplest possible way what is specific to his art, which consists in the charm of the cheerful, colourful harmony. To put it briefly, Götz is a born decorator, a person to whom nature has given a particularly finely developed sense for the harmony of colours and shapes, of materials and techniques. Then consider the rare table from the artist's living room or the view of the ladies' room with the French door curtain. Although the reproductions lack colour, one certainly has the impression of an unusually happy harmony, the laws of which will, of course, never be fully understood. Because in the end, as I said, it is the instinct (i.e. something unlearnable) that enables an artist to give his work this wonderful naturalness.

Götz will always be able to carry out an interior architectural task with his intellect, with the purely architectural feeling, so that the finished work initially only gives the impression of cool objectivity and absolute practicality. Examples of this way of building and furnishing are perhaps the small master's room and, to a certain extent, the garden room in Haus H. in Munich.  

Of course, that certain something is not missing here either, without which a house, like an interior, must remain a dead, merely constructed and not grown structure. But if you want to get to know the actual Götz, then you have to see his living spaces in which the artistic and human feelings have a say, in which the main thing is a happy, almost flirtatious play with grace shapes and friendly, soothing and comforting to the eye happy colours and tones. So, to be very clear: spaces that are intended for women or in which you can at least imagine a woman at any time. A few magnificent examples of this most genuine Ferdinand Götz can be found here. First, the corner of the artist's living room. Isn't it the sense of a woman's power, so to speak, that gives this room its elegant comfort? Then the ladies' room, also from Götz's apartment. Nobody needed to be told that it was a ladies' room. Doesn't every part, as well as the union of all these parts, express that this is the kingdom of a woman, no, a lady, i.e. a special category of the collective term woman, which is perhaps as difficult to define as it is easy for the connoisseur to distinguish them from others? Yes, you could almost say that this room is an explanation of the term lady translated into interior design. By the way, it should also be noted that this room is also an example of the skill with which Götz knows how to combine old and new things and stylistic elements from the past and present into a new, characterful whole. 

But last but not least: the bedroom that Götz designed and built for his wife. You can see in every little detail the love with which this truly delightful room was created, a room that, more than any other, proves the above-mentioned special suitability of the architect Götz for women's rooms. However, you would have had the opportunity to see this room in its original form, on a sunny winter day for example. B., like the writer of these lines. Only then would you feel what the pictures clearly show: how this room is completely attuned to brightness and joy. The stream of light and sun that flooded through it as I entered it flowed softly and flattering the furniture and the attractive engravings on the wall, which are a multi-voiced paean to women. And from a lush green linden tree, above which a bird chirped happily in an airily hovering position, came the foreboding of approaching spring and summer.

I had to think of Zola's somewhat different meaning of the ‘paradise of women’ and I almost envied the occupant of this room a little, don't you think? Not actually, but the architect who was able to think up and realise it. Because creating artistic values ​​is an even greater pleasure than they possess. In this case, of course, in the end all we have left is the middle ground between the two: to enjoy their image. It is proof of the value of these beautiful things that one can find satisfaction in them.”
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