Franz Stassen (born February 12, 1869 in Hanau) was a German painter , draftsman and illustrator. From 1886 to 1892 Stassen visited the Berlin College of Fine Arts. After leaving the academy, he settled first in Hanau but returned sometime later back to Berlin. Initially oriented towards naturalism, Stassen now turned to Art Nouveau, oriented to Sascha Schneider, Fidus, Koloman Moser and Gustav Klimt.
Until 1908 Stassen appeared mainly as a book illustrator. He also designed book covers. In addition to the over 100 books he has illustrated, he created about 50 bookplates and 25 postcard motifs. In 1908, on behalf of the Cologne chocolate producer Ludwig Stollwerck, he supplied designs for Stollwerck collector’s pictures.
Also in 1908, Stassen sought contacts with the Bayreuth Wagner circle and soon became a close member of the circle around Siegfried Wagner. He created portfolios for Wagner’s works, among others for ” Parsifal ” and ” The Ring of the Nibelung “. Being in the spirit of Art Nouveau illustration method was also imbued with the realistic design of the 19th century and was already influenced by the pathetic gestures of new popular media such as photography. Contemporary critics also rated Stassen’s work as a consequence of the life reform movement of the turn of the century and at the same time regarded it as a homage to the Germanic religious myths. However, Stassen combined these ideas with an esoteric and spiritualistic Christianity.
Stassen joined the NSDAP in 1930. He created four tapestries for Hitler’s Reich Chancellery, which represented motifs from the legendary circle of the Edda. However, he remained an averted illustrator of Wagner’s works as well as mainly of legends and fairy tales. Important solo exhibitions took place in Bayreuth in 1937 and in Dresden in 1940. In 1939, Hitler awarded him the title of professor.
In 1913 Stassen’s wife Minna had died. Since 1941, he lived with a partner and quietly confessed to his homosexual disposition. In the final phase of the Second World War in August 1944 Adolf Hitler took him in the Gottbegnadeten list of the most important in the sense of the Nazis German artists.
After the Second World War, Stassen strove with great energy to replace part of his destroyed in the war work. Until his death, he worked on his fourth illustration suite for Goethe’s Faust.