Tombstone of the Ritter von Schoeller family (Brno, Central Cemetery, sect. 23, grave Nos. 21–24), 1877–1878, granite, signed: Loos & Tomola Brünn. The tombstone was originally located in the Municipal Cemetery on Kounicova Street; after its abandonment, it was transferred to the Central Cemetery.
The tombstone of the Ritter von Schoeller family is the only surviving tombstone in the Central Cemetery that was demonstrably made during the lifetime of sculptor Adolf Loos Sr. (1829‒1879).
The tombstone consisting of three parts is symmetrically composed around a central axis. The elevated central part has the shape of a large stela with a triangular top; another stela, identically shaped, but smaller, is set in front of it bearing engraved inscriptions on the front. The low side walls are terminated by protruding pylons. The grave site is lined with a decorative cast iron grid.
Although the original decoration of the tombstone is not fully preserved, it can demonstrate the basic characteristics of the Loos stonemasonry company sepulchral production: most typical are similar types of non-figurative tombstones in the form of various stelae, obelisks, tombs or Latin crosses. Figural decoration of tombstones was rare, increasing only from the end of the 1870s with the contribution of Loos’ partner Johann Eduard Tomola, a skilled figuralist. Materials most commonly used in earlier tombstones include sandstone and lime-sandstone; later (from the mid-1870s) polished granite (often from historical quarries in Mauthausen) prevailed, as well as grey Pernštejn marble and for significant details (e.g. portrait medallions of the deceased, family emblems, etc.) the highly prized white Carrara marble.
The most popular types of tombstones were captured in drawings and offered in the form of printed sample books. “Model tombstones” were also displayed at Loos’ studio presentations, for example at expositions in the Moravian Industrial Museum. The contemporary audience appreciated the quality of craftsmanship of Loos Company tombstones, as well as their “noble form”, corresponding to the ideas and period taste, which was to declare the dignity of the deceased and signify their social status.
“Extremely tasteful and solid” (Tagesbote XXV, 7 November 1875, No. 255, p. 3) – this is how period press evaluated the tomb of the von Teuber family in the Municipal Cemetery, which was produced by Adolf Loos Sr.; it became famous at the time and epitomized a representative tombstone for a well-situated business family.
The von Schoeller family belonged to the elite of Brno textile industrialists. The tombstone was set-up for the deceased Phillip Wilhelm von Schoeller (20 February 1797 Düren, Rhineland – 14 May 1877 Brno), an entrepreneur in wool, sugar and steel industries, a prominent representative of Brno political and cultural life and a long-time representative of the local German evangelical community. Phillip’s son Gustav Adolf (1830‒1912) had a magnificent palace built in 1868 (the so-called Schoeller’s Palace; Brno, Cejl Street 50), immediately adjacent to the family’s factory complex. The sculptural and stucco work on the new palace building was carried out by the Adolf Loos Sr. Company. Many modern technologies (such as steam engines), introduced into production by members of the Schoeller family, marked the beginning of a new era for the Brno wool industry.