Skizzenbuch Franz Zell

Oberammergau Museum


Franz Zell (1866-1961), architect and advocate of folk art, left more than 30 sketchbooks, dated from 1892 to 1947. These are now kept in the archives of the Bayerisches Nationalmuseum (Bavarian National Museum) and the Oberammergau Museum. Wilhelm Heinrich Riehl (1833-1897), who is considered the academic founder of "Volkskunde" (folklore), propagated the "method of ethnographic fieldwork". Zell wandered through the Bavarian and Austrian Alpine foothills with his sketchbook and camera. With his sketchbooks, Zell not only leaves behind regional and cultural heritage, but personal "log books" where he documents his travels. There are sketches of architectural details and customs from Bavaria. Location information and written references provide regional classification. Zell was in Hamburg in December 1899. In a private collection he sketched an "Altenländer wedding chair" and recorded its dimensions and details. Such sketches were then the basis for his furniture designs. In March 1900, Zell travelled to Paris. There he visited and drew at the Paris Medieval Museum, now the Musée National du Moyen Âge. The sketch of the maypole in Strasslach (today Straßlach-Dingharting) shows Zell’s excursions into the Munich countryside. He whimsically adds the verse to his sketch: "The maypole does adorn the village indeed, but also manifests its greed" – a reference to the tradition of stealing each other’s maypoles. Some of the drawings are upside down, as Zell had turned the sketchbook accordingly to draw.


Michaela Thomas