"Is there a more wonderful reward than being a nice idea for many rows of people?" Ida Dehmel noted in her diary in 1906. She was the woman whom the poet Richard Dehmel, who was famous throughout Europe at the time, adored with his verses. Dehmel's books had titles like "Frau und Welt" or "Zwei Menschen". Ida and he were the dream couple of the literary turn of the century. With the setting of “Transfigured Night”, Arnold Schönberg created a timeless monument to this love, which is above all conventions. But the memory of Ida Dehmel should be erased.
The path to the center of the art world was by no means predetermined for the young Ida Coblenz when she was born in Bingen am Rhein in 1870. The father, a successful Jewish wine merchant, raised her with a strict hand. The daughter later formulated that art had broken into her life like light wells. In the middle-class world of the wealthy parental home in the province, the young Ida devoured books by authors such as Strindberg, Ibsen and Nietzsche, played the piano passionately and became the early companion and first love of an adolescent poet: Stefan George.
An avant-garde island
At her father's request, Ida married a Berlin merchant named Auerbach, consul of Colombia, in 1895. If the marriage was also not fortunate, Ida Auerbach developed her talent as a salonière in the feudal apartment at the Tiergarten. It was not the established artists who were found in the other salons of the city that interested them, but the young savages. She looked for the composers of new songs, the painters of newly discovered worlds, the creators of a new language style, presented names such as Edvard Munch and Stanisław Przybyszewski. The advice of the "zoo lady" was appreciated by artists and their help was asked for. Helping new works of art to emerge became Ida's life theme.
The fateful encounter with Richard Dehmel, who was also married, turned into inevitable love. Although still pregnant by her husband, Ida Auerbach decided to devote her life entirely to art. She spent two years traveling through Europe with Dehmel before the couple married in London and found a new home in Blankenese. Her apartment, inspired by Peter Behrens and Henry van de Velde, became an island of the avant-garde in the conservative Hamburg area. Ida Dehmel loved staging as a poet's wife, wearing unusual clothes and striking jewelry. Some Hanseat acknowledged this with blank eyes, others succumbed to their fascination. “She was sitting in an armchair by the door and obviously knew how pictorial she looked. In reality, both represented the 'two people' as they were supposed to be after the 'novel in romances', ”recalled the art collector Gustav Schiefler.
"We Modern …"
Ida Dehmel's fixed stars were not in Hamburg, she found them in art centers such as Weimar, Vienna and Dresden. Her husband's numerous reading trips offered the opportunity to immerse yourself in local artist circles, meet friends, and discover new art. "We modern …" – that's how Ida began many of her sentences during these years. In this way, the domestic guest book was also filled with external names: Harry Graf Kessler, Max Liebermann, Julie Wolfthorn, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, Max Klinger, Alma Mahler, Richard Strauss, Max Reger, Gerhart Hauptmann, Max Reinhardt, Julius Meier-Graefe , Emile Verhaeren, Paul Claudel and many more proved their reference to the “Two People”.
In 1912 Richard and Ida Dehmel moved into a house in Blankenese designed by the poet in the spirit of the reform architecture. Here Ida had large archive cabinets set up, in which she collected her husband's extensive correspondence. The following year, friends and admirers gave Richard Dehmel the house, which was initially rented, for his fiftieth birthday. Among these patrons were Stefan Zweig and Arthur Schnitzler, Walther Rathenau and Eduard Arnhold, Samuel Fischer and Gustav Kirstein. Ida Dehmel was this high point of fame a deep enjoyment, the most sublime holiday of her life. When Richard Dehmel died in 1920, she called her home "Dehmelhaus" and from then on dedicated herself to the care of the estate. She made the previously private meeting point for artists into a coveted address in Hamburg's cultural life.