Friedrich Maximilian Hessemer collection
Scope and Contents
The collection of German architect, Friedrich Maximilian Hessemer, consists of four bound volumes of letters (1827-1830) to his father and two volumes of his poetry (1819-1859). The letters to his father form a travel diary of Hessemer's walking/study tour across Germany, Switzerland, Italy, and Egypt. The volumes represent 1 of 3 bound carbon copies of the original volumes. The volumes are copied in carbon typescript. The travel volumes are illustrated with copies of Hessemer's sketches of places and persons he encountered during his journey. The original manuscripts and drawings are located in the Staedelsches Kunstinstitut library in Frankfurt, Germany. The five volumes are all copied in German. Smaller items in the collection provide background information of Hessemer and interpretation of parts of his study tour. Included is a copy of an article (in English) by Maria Teresa Morreale entitled "Hessemer: Flight from Rome" published in Viaggio in Italia (Spring 1993) that describes some of Hessemer's impressions of Italy translated from letters to his father. A copy of the Daily Malta Chronicle (October 14, 1929) is part of the collection. The paper published translations of Hessemer's letters written during an interval (August 14-19, 1829) in Malta while waiting for transportation to Egypt. Friedrich Maximilian Hessemer was brought to life by his grandson, Paul Hessemer (1890-1964) during a talk  to the Goethe Society of Baltimore, MD . Most likely it was Paul Hessemer who began assembling his grandfather's papers, and he presented a very detailed account of the man and his 19th-century travels to members of the Society. A copy of the text of his presentation is the final item in the collection.
Conditions Governing Access
This collection is housed off-site and requires 48-hours' notice for retrieval. Please contact Special Collections for more information.
Collection is open for use.
Conditions Governing Use
Single copies may be made for research purposes. Researchers are responsible for determining any copyright questions. It is not necessary to seek our permission as the owner of the physical work to publish or otherwise use public domain materials that we have made available for use, unless Johns Hopkins University holds the copyright.
Friedrich Maximilian Hessemer, architect and poet, was born in Darmstadt, Germany in 1800. At age 17 he enrolled in the University of Giessen but returned to Darmstadt two years later to study architecture under the supervision of his uncle, Georg Moller, an architect and director of public works. He began his career in architecture in 1822 in the State of Hessen and transferred in 1824 to the province of Oberhessen. While on official missions in Oberhessen, Hessemer used his artistic abilities to sketch buildings, which was later useful during his study travels. In the spring of 1827 Hessemer returned to Darmstadt and took a two year study leave to Italy. Hessemer left Darmstadt on September 3, 1827 and returned September 27, 1830 after walking through Switzerland, Italy ( including Sicily), Malta, and Egypt. In Rome in 1828, Hessemer met the English architect, Henry Gally Knight (1786-1846) who offered him a commission to prepare sketches in Egypt which he [Knight] needed for a work on the origins of the Gothic arch.
He also made over 450 pencil sketches and drawings of what he saw - a photo album of sorts for the 19th-century adventurer. "If I had not drawn it, it is if I had not seen it," he wrote in a letter to his father, Sept. 4, 1828. A collection of Hessemer's drawings was published (1990) in English: Historic designs and patterns in color from Arab and Italian sources. Letters to his father are included in the published volume, Lettere dalla Sicilia (Palermo: Sellerio, 1992) to be added to Rare Books, Special Collections.
Hessemer returned to Germany to accept a position at the Staedel Art Institute in Frankfurt, and settled into the intellectual life of the city. He presented lectures on architecture and art, worked on problems related to optics and mathematics, and wrote poetry.
Friedrich Maximilian Hessemer died December 1, 1860 in Frankfurt, Germany.
0.95 Cubic Feet (2 letter size document boxes, 1 letter half-size document box)
Language of Materials
The collection of German architect, Friedrich Maximilian Hessemer, consists of four bound volumes of letters (1827-1830) to his father and two volumes of his poetry (1819-1859).
The collection of Friedrich Maximilian Hessemer was given to the University by his great-grandson, Fritz M. Hessemer, in October 1996.
The Accession Number is 96-97.2.
Finding aid prepared by Joan Grattan in February 1997.
- Friedrich Maximilian Hessemer collection
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
- Finding aid written in English
Part of the Special Collections Repository
The Sheridan Libraries
3400 N Charles St
Baltimore MD 21218 USA