Kessler, Harry, Graf

BORN 23 May 1868, Paris - DIED 30 Nov 1937, Lyon
BIRTH NAME Kessler, Harry Clemens Ulrich, Graf von
GRAVE LOCATION Paris: Père Lachaise, Rue du Repos 16 (division 57, Avenue Neigre, ligne 1)

Harry Kessler was the son of the banker Adolf Kessler and his Irish wife Alice Harriet Blosse-Lynch. In 1880 in Bad Ems he briefly met emperor Wilhelm I who knew his mother since 1870. He attened a boarding school in Ascot from 1880 to 1882 and after that he attended the Johanneum in Hamburg where his father had studied as well. Harry graduated there in 1888. He studied law in Bonn and Leipzig, but was also taught classical philology by Hermann Usener, archaeology by Reinhard Kekulé, art history by Anton Springer and psychology by Wilhelm Wundt.

In 1891 he travelled over the world and visited the USA, Japan and India. In 1892 he did one year of military service. He completed his law studies in 1894 and worked as a legal clerk until he took his assessor exam in 1900. His father had died in 1895 and his mother supported hus interest his interest in art and culture. He worked for the art nouveau journal PAN.

In 1903 he became director of the Grand Ducal Museum of Art in Weimar. In the same he became the vice-president of the new Deutscher Künstlerbund. In Weimar he developed new exhibiting concepts. He supported Aristide Maillol, Henry van de Velde, Gordon Craig and other artists. In 1909 he developed a concept for a comic opera together with Hugo von Hofmannsthal and with the music by Richard Strauss this became "Der Rosenkavalier" (1911). In Weimar he became a close friend of Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche (1846-1935), the sister of Friedrich Nietzsche. On his suggestion she decied that the Nietzsche Archive was housed in Weimar.

During the First World War he saw active service and he also worked at the German Embassy in Bern. In 1918 he returned to Weimar in 1918. By then he was convinced that new wars should be prevented and in 1919 he wrote a plan for a League of Nations including a Court of Arbitration. He was a member of the Deutsche Friedensgesellschaft (German Peace Society) and served as its president for a while. In 1922 his friend Walther Rathenau was murdered and he wrote a biography of him. In 1924 he was a candidate for the DDP (German Democratic Party) but he lost and he withdrew from politics.

Shortly after the nazis came to power he travelled to Paris in March 1933. It was too dangerous for him to return and from 1933 to 1936 he lived on Mallorca where live was relatively cheap. In 1936 he moved to the south of France. He was in financial trouble by then and sold his house in Weimar in the same year. He lived at the hostelry of his siter Wilma, now Duchesse de Frioul, in Pontanevaux north of Lyon. Kessler suffered from a heart disease and he died late in 1937 in a clinic in Lyon. He was buried with his parents at Père Lachaise in Paris.

• Mother: Blosse-Lynch, Alice Harriet

Related persons
• cooperated with Hofmannsthal, Hugo von
• knew Richter-Meyerbeer, Cornelie
• met Wilhelm I, emperor of Germany


The grave of Harry, Graf Kessler at Père Lachaise, Paris.
Picture by Androom (01 Nov 2022)


The grave of Harry, Graf Kessler at Père Lachaise, Paris.
Picture by Androom (01 Nov 2022)


Harry Graf Kessler – Wikipedia

Kestner, August

Published: 12 Feb 2023
Last update: 13 Aug 2023