Wilhelmine style

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The new building of the Wilhelminian New Marstall opposite the historic Berlin City Palace, 1900

The Wilhelmine style describes the historicist architecture and visual arts of the German Empire , especially during the reign of Wilhelm II , from 1890 to 1918. The representative design language should reflect the imperial claim to power of the German Empire. In addition to numerous styles of historicism, until 1905 architecture and sculpture mostly related to the neo-baroque or neo-renaissance . Subsequently, the Wilhelmine architecture gradually moderated itself through neoclassical influences or the emerging Art Nouveau and Reform styles . Well-known Wilhelmine architects and artists were Ernst von Ihne (as court architect ), Reinhold Begas and Bernhard Sehring .


After the founding of the German Empire in 1871, the new state longed for a representative, often monumental and unified architectural style. While comparatively mild and more restrained buildings emerged in the first decade of the German Empire, which were gladly inspired by the Italian Renaissance , the formal language became extremely eclectic after Wilhelm II's accession to the throne . It became increasingly fashionable for bourgeois apartments to build in the exuberant neo-baroque style, which in the past was mostly reserved for royal palaces or court buildings. This Wilhelminian pomp reached its climax around 1895 . Thus, representative public buildings such as the Berlin Cathedral (1894–1905), the Reichstag building (1884–1894), the New Marstall (1897–1901), the Imperial Court building (1888–1895) and structural changes to the Berlin Palace were built . In addition, countless Wilhelmine town halls and court buildings were built during this period . Examples of this are the Hamburg City Hall or the Moabit Criminal Court . In terms of style, this time of Wilhelminism shows many parallels with the architectural style of the Second Empire in France or the Victorian design language in the British Empire . From 1900 onwards, the often expressionistic influence of Art Nouveau contributed to a slight moderation of the architecture. However, from 1905, the emerging neoclassical rigor had a far greater influence on the Wilhelmine style. So monumental and prestigious construction was continued, but playful ornaments and stucco found their way into buildings much less often or only in a simplified form. Examples of this are the Berlin State Library (1903–1914) or the Berlin Main Telegraph Office (1910–1916). In addition, around 1910 the reform architecture was increasingly used by Wilhelmine architects. So one began to operate homeland security architecture rather than building representative and eclecticistic as before.


  • Nils Freytag: The Wilhelminian Empire 1890-1914 , UTB GmbH, Paderborn 2018, ISBN 3506763636 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. for upper / lower case see wilhelminisch. In: Sabine Krome (Ed.): Wahrig, one word - one spelling: the Wahrig house orthography from A to Z. 2006.
  2. ^ Architectural style: Historicism (on the keyword "Wilhelmine style").