II. Fin-de-Siècle Architect Oskar Marmorek

The Nestroyhof is a masterpiece by the most important Jewish architect of Fin-de-Siècle Vienna, Oskar Marmorek.

Born in 1863 in Galicia, Oskar Marmorek moved to Vienna with his family at age 12 and later studied architecture at the Technical University. Like his contemporary, Otto Wagner, he built some of the most beautiful Jugendstil apartment buildings in Vienna in an unmistakably distinctive and personal style. Besides the Nestroyhof, extant examples of his work include, among others, the Villa Wrchovzky in Grinzing, the apartment and business buildings at Windmühlgasse 30 and 32, Schottenfeldgasse 65, and Lerchengasse 3-5 (“Zu den drei Lerchen”), the “Rüdigerhof” at Hamburgerstrasse 20, and other buildings in Austria, Hungary, Germany, and elsewhere.

Marmorek made the acquaintance of another Viennese intellectual, Theodor Herzl, in 1895. The architect soon became one of the first members of the World Zionist Organization and was elected to its executive board. The friendship that developed between Marmorek and Herzl, together with their common Zionist goals, would forge an intimate cooperation that would last until the latter’s death in 1904. In Herzl’s final major testament to Zionism, his utopian novel “Altneuland” (“Old New Land”), the author modeled the character of “Steineck” – the fictional architect of the State of the Jews – on his close friend and associate, Oskar Marmorek.

Marmorek was also an active member of the Viennese Jewish community and, like Herzl, an outspoken opponent of the popular antisemitic movement that mushroomed with the rise of Karl Lueger as Mayor of Vienna in 1897 and would later culminate in the Shoah. In 1909, suffering from physical illness and depression – deeply disheartened by the rapidly rising tide of Austrian antisemitism – Marmorek took his own life at the gravesite of his father in Vienna. He was 46 years old.

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