Lüftlmalerei - House paintings

'Lüftlmalerei' is a handicraft method of wall-painting originally applied for decorating the baroque facades in Italy and ...

© Eberhard Starosczik

'Lüftlmalerei' is a handicraft method of wall-painting originally applied for decorating the baroque facades in Italy and Southern Germany.

It was only in the 18th century that this method began to become popular in the foothill region of the Alps, where wealthy traders, peasants and craftsmen displayed their wealth by means of opulently painted facades.
The subjects of the paintings are mostly of a religious character, particularly involving figures of saints as well as manifold scenes all around the Passion Play theme in Oberammergau.

The painting technique is the so-called fresco technique, i.e. the water colours of a mineral basis are applied to wet freshly laid plaster. As the colours dry, they become a fixed layer of colour, insoluble to water. The necessity to work quickly in the fresh air (Luft), led to the belief that the term 'Lüftlmalerei' is somehow connected to this particular method of painting. More convincing, however, is the story going back to Franz Seraph Zwinck (1748-1792), probably the most well-known craftsman of his guild. The story goes that he lived in a house called 'Zum Lüftl' in Oberammergau (such house names can still be found there rather often) and because of his profession, was called 'the Lüftlmaler' (the 'Lüftl' painter). The name of the whole guild most probably developed from this name during the 19th century.

The said Franz Seraph Zwinck decorated many beautiful facades in Oberammergau and its area. The most prominent of them would be the 'Forsthaus', the 'Mußldomahaus' and, last but not least, the 'Pilatushaus' (House of Pontius Pilate) with its ornate architectural fantasies