© Jürgen Gemmerich

The Artists' Colony Willingshausen

Short facts

  • Willingshausen

The idyllic nature and unique light of the Schwalm once lured painters to Willingshausen. Today, art and tradition are brought to life through exhibitions, workshops, and events at the Kunsthalle and the Museum Malerstübchen. The painter Ludwig Emil Grimm, brother of the fairy tale collectors Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm, founded the Willingshausen Artists' Colony in 1824 with Gerhardt Wilhelm von Reutern, making it one of the oldest artists' associations in Europe.

The Willingshausen Artists' Colony is the oldest artists' colony in Europe. Gerhardt Wilhelm von Reutern came to Willingshausen with a war injury to recuperate at the Schwertzell family's residence. He decided to stay in Willingshausen, where he began painting and later married Charlotte von Schwertzell. He admired the traditional Schwalm costumes and often chose them as motifs for his works.

In 1824, Gerhardt von Reutern and Ludwig Emil Grimm met at the Schwertzell's castle in Willingshausen. This meeting is considered the founding year of the Willingshausen Artists' Colony. Soon, more artists came to the small Hessian village, captivated by the landscape with its gentle hills and picturesque valleys, especially illuminated by the Schwalm's light. These artists captured the landscape and rural life during festivals and daily activities in their artworks, marking the beginning of en plein air painting in art history.

In 2024, the 200th anniversary of the Willingshausen Artists' Colony will be celebrated with various events and activities.

Over the centuries, the village life has evolved, but the idyllic nature, beautiful half-timbered houses, and the unique light of the Schwalm remain. The Malersymposium regularly attracts artists from all over Europe and overseas to Willingshausen. The results of the regularly held painting courses, works of scholarship recipients, and other interesting pieces are exhibited in the Kunsthalle Willingshausen.

The Stipendium Willingshausen brings two students every year for three months to Willingshausen to explore this special place from a contemporary perspective. They reside in the protected heritage Hirtenhaus, work in the studio spaces of the Gerhardt-von-Reutern-Haus, and conclude their stay with an exhibition in the Kunsthalle Willingshausen. Since 2022, Marina Rüdiger has been the curator. The stipend is supported by the Sparkassen-Kulturstiftung Hessen-Thüringen, SV SparkassenVersicherung, Kreissparkasse Schwalm-Eder, Schwalm-Eder-Kreis, and the municipality of Willingshausen.

The 2023 program in Kunsthalle Willingshausen includes exhibitions such as Marianne and Günter Heinemann, the 5th Malersymposium, PLAY BACK - Digital Art meets Willingshausen Artists' Colony Painting, Heinrich Otto - In Memory, and Arhun Aksakal: 56th Stipendium.

The former guesthouse, where the famous Willingshausen painters used to come and go, is now the Museum "Malerstübchen," with the contemporary extension housing the Kunsthalle and Tourist Information. Due to renovation works in the Gerhardt von Reutern-Haus, the Malerstübchen will have limited access in 2023.

For exhibitions, painting and creative courses, and other events in the Willingshausen Artists' Colony, refer to the event calendar.

Merzhäuser Str. 1

34628 Willingshausen


Phone: +49 6697 1418


Website: www.malerkolonie.de

Next steps

It appears that you are using Microsoft Internet Explorer as your web browser to access our site.

For practical and security reasons, we recommend that you use a current web browser such as Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Opera, or Edge. Internet Explorer does not always display the complete content of our website and does not offer all the necessary functions.