Anselm Feuerbach

The Paintings of Anselm Feuerbach

Born in September of 1829 in Speyer, one of Germany’s oldest cities, Anselm Feuerbach was a painter and a leading member of the nineteenth-century German classical school. He was the son of archaeologist Joseph Anselm Feuerbach and the grandson of legal scholar Paul Johann Anselm Ritter von Feuerbach, whose reformation of the Bavarian penal code led to the abolition of torture. 

Anselm Feuerbach studied between 1845 and 1848 at the Düsseldorf Academy under the tutelage of romantic painter Wilhelm von Schadow, landscape painter Johann Wilhelm Schirmer, and Carl Sohn, whose poetic and mythical subjects were executed in the idealistic manner of the Düsseldorf school of painting. Feuerbach studied for a year at the Munich Academy of Art; he however left Munich in 1850 to attend the Academy at Antwerp. There he studied under Belgian painter Gustaaf Wappers, an early exponent of the Romanic movement in Belgium.

Anselm Feuerbach relocated to Paris in 1851 and became a student at the atelier of history and genre painter Thomas Couture. Conture is best known for his 1847 masterpiece “Romans During the Decadence” which was  exhibited at Paris’s Salon a year before the revolution toppled the monarchy. In 1854, Feuerbach received funding from Grand Duke Friedrich of Baden which enabled him to visit Venice, accompanied by his friend, the writer Victor Scheffel. There he was influenced by the technique of layering and blending colors to achieve a glowing richness, a method deemed fundamental to the Venetian Colorist school.

 Feuerbach traveled to Florence and then onto Rome where he would remain until 1873, with only brief trips back to Germany. In 1861, he met Anna Risi who became his mistress and sat as his model for four years, a period during which he painted twenty portraits of her. She was succeeded as a model in 1866 by Lucia Brunacci, an innkeeper’s wife who posed for Feuerbach’s depictions of the Greek sorceress Medea. In 1862, literary and art historian Count Adolf Freidrich von Schack commissioned Feuerbach for several copies of Old Master paintings and introduced him to artists Hans von Marées and Arnold Böcklin. 

Interested in the Persian poet Hafia since his youth, Anselm Feuervach in 1866 painted his “Hafia at the Fountain” which was acquired two years later by art collector Joseph Benzino, Upon Benzino’s death, the painting was bequeathed to  the Kaiserslautern Art Museum. In 1873,  Feuerbach relocated to Vienna and took the position of professor of history painting at the Academy of Fine Arts.  Four years later, he resigned his post and moved back to Venice. where he passed away, at the age of fifty, in January of 1880. 

In remembrance of Feuerbach, his friend Johannes Brahms composed “Nänie (A Funeral Song)”,  a composition for full chorus and orchestra, of which the first sentence states “Even the beautiful must die”. Feuerbach was close to his step-mother Henriette Feuerbach. Throughout his lifetime of travels, he wrote roughly six-hundred letters to his step-mother describing his everyday life and problems, as well as his thoughts on art and his methods of painting. Following Feuerbach’s  death, his step-mother wrote a book entitled “Ein Vermächtnis (A Testament)” which included his autobiographical notes and many of his personal letters. Anselm Feuerbach’s works are housed in collections of the leading public German galleries.

Note: An article written by Candida Syndikus entitled “Far from the Modern World: Anselm Feuerbach’s Idea of Modernity” can be found at:

Top Insert Image: Anselm Feuerbach, Selbetbildnis als Knabe (Self Portrait as a Boy)”, 1845-1846, Oil on Canvas, 15.5 x 12.5 cm, Alte Nationalgalerie

Middle Insert Image: Anselm Feuerbach, “Seated Male Nude”, 1860-1869, Black and white Chalk on Brown Paper, 60.4 x 40 cm, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Bottom Insert Image: Anselm Feuerbach, “Self Portrait”, 1852-1853, Oil on Canvas, 42 x 33 cm, Staatliche Kunsthalle, Karlsruhe, Germany

Ottilie Roederstein

The Paintings of Ottilie Roederstein

Born in 1859 to German parents in Zurich, Ottilie Wilhelmine  Roederstein was a painter who gained attention mostly in her homeland of Switzerland, but also in France and Germany. Her interest in painting began with the visit to her family home by Swiss painter Eduard Pfyffer who had been commissioned to do the family’s portraits. Beginning in 1876, Roederstein was allowed by her father, against her mother’s wishes and the prevailing social customs, to study painting under the tutelage of Eduard Pfyffer, so she would remain close to home

Three years later, Roederstein moved to the Berlin residence of her married sister Johanna and found a position in a special women’s class at the Grand-Ducal Saxon Art School under the tutelage of portrait painter Carl Gussow. Her first exhibition of paintings at a Zurich gallery in 1882 was well received. That same year, Roederstein followed her colleagues to Paris where she joined the women’s studio of portrait painters Charles Auguste Émile Durand and Jean-Jacques Henner. In addition to these classes, Roederstein also worked with academic painter Luc-Olivier Merson and painted nudes in special private evening classes.

In order to sustain herself as an artist, Ottilie Roederstein had chosen the genres of portraiture and still life, for which she used a dark-toned color palette. She soon departed from that traditional canon and began to paint religious imagery and nudes. By the very end of the 1890s, Roederstein had embraced the tempera medium which was in vogue among both traditional and avant-garde artists. She experimented with Symbolism and Impressionism in the latter part of her career before returning to her signature style in the 1920s.

Initially dependent on financial support from her family, Roederstein was able by 1887 to support herself with sales and commissions for her work. She returned to Zurich but continued to maintain her Paris studio on the Seine where she would work and exhibit several months of the year. Roederstein moved to Frankfurt, Germany, in 1891 to be with her partner, Elizabeth Winterhalter, a physician and one of the first female surgeons in Germany.

In 1891, Elisabeth Winterhalter had just  taken over a practice in Frankfurt am Main’s newly founded hospital, the Vaterländischer Frauenverein. She also set up the first gynecological polyclinic through a branch of the Red Cross organization. Although unable to obtain a German medical license despite her internships and Doctorate, she established a reputation as an obstetrician and gynecologist. In 1895, Winterhalter became the first female surgeon in Germany to perform a surgical procedure involving an incision through the abdominal wall. She also conducted research that led to the discovery of the ganglion cell of the ovary and published a major paper on the subject in 1896. 

Soon after her 1891 move to Berlin, Ottilie Roederstein quickly gained a wide circle of clients and, in 1892, began giving  women artists painting lessons at her  studio in the Städel Art School. She exhibited her paintings in Paris’s Salon and won a Silver Medal at the city’s 1889 Exposition Universelle. Her work was also shown at the Woman’s Building of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition held in Chicago, Illinois. In 1902, Ottilie Roederstein’s application for Swiss citizenship was granted; however, Frankfurt remained at the center of her life. Five years later, she and Elisabeth settled in Hofheim am Taurus, a western Frankfurt suburb surrounded by forest. 

Roederstein was a member of the Frankfurt-Cronberg Artists’ Association, a group which was attempting to establish the Impressionist technique of open air painting in Germany. She was also the only female artist to exhibit at Cologne’s 1912 International Art Exhibition. In 1913, Roederstein became a member of Frankfurt’s Women’s Art Association which campaigned for women artists’ rights to equal training and admission to art academies. During the first World War as exhibition opportunities shrank, she gave up her Paris studio and withdrew into the privacy of her Hofheim estate. Beginning in 1920, Roederstein bequeathed her own collection of important French and Swiss paintings to Kunsthaus Zürich, one of the most important art collections in Switzerland. 

In 1929 on the occasion of Ottilie Roederstein’s seventieth birthday, a large anniversary exhibition of her work was held at Frankfurt’s Art Museum and the city declared both Roederstein and Winte halter as honorary citizens. The rise of the National Socialist Party to power in Germany and the persecution of her Jewish friends and colleagues deeply affected Roederstein. She herself, as an artist, became subject to the state and had to contend with the government’s increasing control over the arts. After the war, Roederstein continued her painting and did  a number of portraits of women widowed by the war. 

Ottilie Roederstein continued to exhibit regularly until 1931. She produced a large body of work, of which more than eighty were self-portraits. She usually staged herself in a self-confident pose with a stern gaze, a posture that signified her emancipation. On the 26th of November in 1937, Ottilie W. Roederstein died of a heart condition in Hofheim am Taunus. The first posthumous exhibitions of Roederstein’s work were presented in 1938 in Frankfurt, Zurich and Bern in recognition of her artistic legacy and tireless work as a mediator between Switzerland and Germany. After a long period of obscurity, a retrospective of seventy works by Roederstein was held at Kunsthaus Zürich in December of 2020.

After her partner’s  death, Elisabeth Winterhalter created a joint legacy, the Roederstein-Winterhalter-Stiftung. She died in February of 1952 in Hofheim am Taunus. Winterhalter was buried alongside Roederstein in an honorary grave cared for by the community. For her efforts in opening the medical profession to women, a street in the Niederursel district of Frankfurt is named after her. 

Top Insert Image: Photographer Unknown, Ottilie Roederstein in Her Atelier, Date Unknown

Second Insert Image: Ottilie Foederstein, “Self Portrait with Keys”, 1936, 105.3 x 74.6 cm, Städel Museum

Third Insert Image: Photographer Unknown, ” Ottilie roederstein and Elisabeth Winterhalter, Date Unknown

Fourth Insert Image: Ottilie W. Roederstein, “Self Portrait with Hat”, 1904, Oil on Canvas, 55.3 x 46.1 cm, Stäadel Museum

Bottom Insert Image: Photogapher Unknown, Ottilie Roederstein and Elisabeth Winterhalter, Date Unknown, Studio Portrait Print

Marsden Hartley

Paintings by Marsden Hartley

Born in Lewiston, Maine on January 4th of 1877, Marsden Edmund Hartley was an American Modernist painter, poet, essayist and author.  The youngest of eight children, he remained, at the age of fourteen, with his father in Maine after the death of his mother, his siblings having moved to Ohio after the death. A year later in 1892, he joined his family in Cleveland, Ohio, where he began formal art training at Cleveland’s School of Art under a scholarship.

In 1898, Hartley relocated to New York City to study painting under Impressionist William Merritt Chase at the New York School of Art; he also associated with member artists from  the National Academy of Design. Hartley became a close friend and admirer of allegorical and seascape painter Albert Pinkham Ryder, whom he often visited at his Greenwich Village studio. He also read the writings of Walt Whitman and the American  transcendentalists such as Emerson and Thoreau.

Between 1900 and 1910, Marsden Hartley spent his summers in the city of Lewiston, located in southern Maine, and the region of western Maine near the village of Lovell. During these summers, he painted what are considered his first mature works, images of Kezar Lake located near the town of Lovell, and Maine’s hillsides and mountains. In 1909, Hartley exhibited these paintings at his first solo exhibition in art promoter Alfred Stieglitz’s internationally-known Gallery 291, located in Manhattan. Impressed by Hartley’s work, Stieglitz introduced him to the work of the European Modernist artists, such as Picasso, Kandinsky and Matisse.

Hartley traveled to Europe in April of 1912, the first of many visits, and in Paris became acquainted with Gertrude Stein and her circle of  writers and artists. He was encouraged by Stein, along with poet Hart Crane and novelist Sherwood Anderson, to write as well as paint. Disenchanted after living in Paris for a year, Hartley relocated to Berlin in April of 1913 where he became friends with Wassily Kandinsky and Franz Marc, and continued his painting. Of his work done in Berlin, two of his still life paintings, inspired by the work of Cézanne, and six charcoal drawings were included in the historic 1913 Armory Show in New York.

Marsden Hartley’s work during this period in Berlin was a combination of German Expressionism and abstraction; his work was also inspired by the pageantry of the German military, though his view of the military changed with the outbreak of war in 1914. In Berlin, Hartley developed a close relationship with a lieutenant in the Prussian Armed Forces, Karl von Freyburg, who was a cousin of Hartley’s friend Arnold Ronnebeck. Infatuated with Freyburg, Hartley would use him as a recurring motif in his works. Although Freyburg survived the Battle of the Marne, for which he was awarded the Iron Cross, he died on October 7th in 1914, at the age of twenty-four, during the Battle of Arras. Hartley was devastated at the announcement of Freyburg’s death.

The works Hartley produced shortly after Freyburg’s death were variations on his post-war themes. However, along with the regimental plumes in his paintings, there were now numbers and letters which had deep significance to Hartley. They included the “K.v.F.” of Freyburg’s initials, coded references to the Iron Cross, Freyburg’s age and regiment numbers, and black and white checkered patterns which referenced Freyburg’s favorite game, chess. Two examples of these memorial pieces are “Portrait of a German Officer” and “Portrait No. 47”, both painted in Berlin and seen in the images above.

Marsden Hartley returned to the United States in early 1916. He traveled and painted from 1916 to 1921 in Provincetown, New York, New Mexico, and Bermuda. Although his works still contained some German iconography, he also painted other subjects, often with homoerotic undertones. After an auction of one hundred of his works at New York’s Anderson Gallery in 1921, Hartley returned to Europe and created still lifes and landscapes using the drawing medium of silverpoint. 

Throughout the 1930s, Hartley spent summers and autumns in New Hampshire painting scenes of its mountains. Awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, he spent time painting in Mexico which was followed by a year in the Bavarian Alps. After a few months in Bermuda in 1935, Hartley traveled by ship to Blue Rocks, Nova Scotia, where he lived for two summers with the Mason family, who earned their living as fishermen. The deaths of the two Mason brothers, drowned in a hurricane, greatly affected Hartley and inspired a series of portrait paintings and seascapes. Hartley returned to Maine in 1937 where he remained for the rest of his life. He died in Ellsworth, Maine, at the age of sixty-six, on September 2nd of 1943.

Marsden Hartley was not overt about his homosexuality and often diverted attention to other aspects of his work. Most of his works, such as “Portrait of a German Officer”, a homage to Freyburg, and his 1916 “Handsome Drinks”, one of the first paintings Hartley did after his reluctant 1916 return to the United States, are coded in their reference to his sexuality. When he reached his sixties, he no longer felt unease and his works became more intimate, such as his two 1940 paintings “Flaming American (Swim Champ)” and the  “Madawaska-Acadian Light-Heavy”, seen in one of the above inserts. 

Top Inset Image: Marsden Hartley, “Green Landscape with Rocks, No. 2”, 1935-1936, Oil on Board, 33 x 45.4 cm, Brooklun Museum, New York

Second Insert Image: Richard Tweedy, “Marsden Hartley”, 1898, Oil on Canvas, 66 x 45.7 cm, National Portrait Gallery, Washington DC

Third Insert Image: Marsden Hartley, “Abstraction”, 1912-1913, Oil on Canvas, 118 x 101 cm, Private Collection

Bottom Insert Image: Marsden Hartley, “Madawaska-Acadian Light-Heavy”, 1940, 101.6 x 76.2 cm, Chicago Art Institute

August Sander

August Sander: Portraits from “People of the Twentieth Century”

Born in 1876 in Herdorf, a small village east of Cologne in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany, August Sander was a photographer, now viewed as a forefather of conceptual art and a pioneering documentarian of human diversity. 

Sander spent his time, between 1897 and 1899, as a photographer’s assistant during his military service. In 1901, Sander started working for a photo studio in Linz, Austria, became a partner in 1902, and then the proprietor in 1904. By this time, he already had several exhibitions and purchases of his work by museums. After many successful exhibitions of his work, Sander relocated his studio to Cologne. 

In 1911, August Sander began the first series of portraits for what would be his monumental project, “People of the Twentieth Century”, an archived and sustained photographic enterprise of twentieth-century man, These emphatically objective photographs from the years of the Kaisers, the Weimar Republic, the Nazi regime, and the early Federal Republic make up an unprecedented document of both the individual and the collective recent history of the German  people. 

In 1927, August Sander traveled through Sardinia for three months, where he took hundreds of photographs. A exhibition of his portraits at the Kölnische Kunstverein in 1927 received positive reviews from both critics and the public. This exhibition led to the 1929 publishing of Sander’s “Antlitz der Zeit (Faces of Our Time)”, which included the first sixty portraits from his twentieth-century series and an introduction by German novelist and essayist Alfred Döblin.

Under the rise of the Nazi regime in Germany, Sander’s work and personal life were greatly restrained. In 1934, Sander’s son Erich, a member of the Socialist Workers’ Party, was arrested and sentenced to ten years in prison, where he died shortly before the end of his sentence. The printing blocks for Sander’s “Antlitz der Zeit” were destroyed and unsold copies impounded in 1936 by the authorities, most likely due to the publication’s image of a heterogeneous German society of which the Nazi Party disapproved.

Despite the political situation in Germany between 1933 and 1945, August Sander continued working in his Cologne studio, portraying intellectuals, Jewish citizens, National Socialists, as well as regular people from the street. Many of these commercial portraits were included in his opus ”People of the Twentieth Century” where they became a political statement. Beginning in 1942, Sander started to relocate the most important parts of his negative archive to Kuchhausen, a small village in Westerwald, where he continued both his commercial photographic work and  his project wor

Although August Sander’s main studio in Cologne was destroyed in a 1944 bombing raid, tens of thousands of his negatives, which he had left behind in the basement of a former apartment in Cologne, survived the war. In a later 1946 fire, approximately twenty-five thousand negatives were destroyed in the same apartment basement. In 1946, Sander continued his historical archive with  a post-war photographic documentation of the bombed city of Cologne in 1946. 

Sander sold a portfolio of four-hundred and eight photographs of Cologne, taken between 1920 and 1939, to the Kölnisches State Museum in 1953. These photos would form the 1988 book “Koõin wie es War (Cologne As It Was)””.  In 1962 an edition of eighty photographs from the “People of the Twentieth Century” was published as a book entitled “German Mirror: People of the Twentieth Century”. Still working on his project at the age of eighty-eight, August Sander died of a stroke on April 20th in 1964. His body was buried next to his son Erich in Cologne’s Melaten Cemetery.  

One of the most ambitious undertakings in the history of photography, the “People  of the Twentieth Century” project occupied Sander for some 40 years, from the early 1920s until his death, during which he took portraits of hundreds of German citizens and then categorized them by social type and occupation — from farm laborers to circus performers to prosperous businessmen and aristocrats. Remarkable for their unflinching realism and deft analysis of character and lifestyle, Sander’s individual images stand out as high points of photographic portraiture and collectively propose the idea of the archive as art. 

Although the Nazis confiscated the first publication of Sander’s work, and the majority of his negatives were later destroyed by fire, approximately eighteen hundred portrait negatives for “People of the Twentieth Century” survived, as well as Sander’s notes and plans. Together with the existing vintage prints, they have provided the basis for current reconstruction of Sander’s ambitious project in both book and exhibition form.

Middle Insert Image: August Sander, “Workmen in the Ruhr Region”, 1928, Silver Gelatin Print, August Sander Archive, VG, Bild-Kunst

The Heliodor Tree Frog

Hans-Jürgen Henn and Alfred Zimmermann, “Heliodor Tree Frog”, Date Unknown, Heliodor and Gold, 15 cm in Height, Henn Gems

Designed by Hans-Jürgen Henn and Alfred Zimmermann, the “Heliodor Tree Frog” was intricately fashioned by master gemstone carver Alfred Zimmermann. The frog and its perch was carved from richly colored Ukrainian heliodor, a member of the beryl family known for its hexagonal crystals, vitreous luster, and range of color. The amphibian’s gemstone perch is set on a base of eighteen-carat yellow gold; the combined materials allude to the various textures of an exotic tree trunk in the wild.  

One of the most renowned lapidary artists of the last several decades, Alfred Zimmerman is a member of an Idar-Oberstein family of gemstone carvers. Originally an apprentice of Gerd Dreher, a fourth-generation stone carver, Alfred Zimmerman is also known for working in the “Fabergé” tradition. Zimmerman’s frequent subjects are either soldiers or peasants in folkloric attire but he is well known for animal carvings of transparent crystalline minerals. Zimmermann has recently retired after a long career of finely executed sculptures.

The third-generation of the Henn family in the gemstone trade, Hans-Jürgen Henn has over fifty years of experience in the trade. From an early age, he combined his passion for precious stones with mountaineering, during which he was always searching for the rare and undiscovered. Henn, the first to coin the expression Kashmir Peridot, had the passion and foresight to preserve the Dom Pedro Aquamarine as a single, dramatic stone. This stone, the largest aquamarine ever cut, was fashioned by Bernd Munsteiner, and gifted to the Smithsonian Institute in 2011.  

For information on exhibitions, jewelry, and objects of art, the Henn Gemstone website is located at:

The Darmstadt Artists’ Colony

The Darmstadt Artists’ Colony

Between 1899 and 1914, the Mathildenhöhe (Mathilda Heights) of Darmstadt, a city in the state of Hesse, Germany, was the site of the legendary Artists’ Colony. It was founded by the young and ambitious Ernst Ludwig, Grand Duke of Hesse, who was the grandson of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, and brother to Alexandra who married Tsar Nicholas II, the last Emperor of Russia. 

Grand Duke Ludwig was determined to turn his state into a cradle of modern design and art on the highest level. To attain this goal, he commissioned some of the most talented artists of the time to become members of the Colony, including Vienna’s distinguished architect Joseph Maria Olbrich, one of the Vienna Secession founders, and self-taught Peter Behrens, who would become Germany’s top architect in the decade to follow. 

Situated close to the city centre, the Artists’ Colony became a sensational experimental field for artistic innovations in which the sovereign and a group of young artists realized their vision of a fusion of art and life. Their intention was to revolutionize architecture and interior design in order to create a modern living culture with an integration of both housing and work space. The whole human life-style was to be reformed to gain in beauty and happiness as well as in simplicity and functionality.

Beginning during a period when art existed for the sake of its beauty alone, the progress of the Artists’ Colony was slow; however, after 1901, the program gradually became more rational and realistic. This change was evident, among other things, in the numerous buildings created on the Mathildenhöhe from 1900 to 1914. Though at first the artists concentrated on the construction of private villas, they later created apartment houses and workers’ homes in an effort to face the arising questions of their time’s life and housing.

The ensemble of the Darmstadt Artists’ Colony is considered today to be one of the most impressive records of the dawning of modern art. Its appearance is still marked primarily by the buildings of the architect Joseph Maria Olbrich, who notably created the remarkable silhouette of the Colony, facing the city of Darmstadt, with his Wedding Tower and the Exhibition Building, both completed in 1908. 

The Mathildenhöhe Darmstadt is basically an open-air museum where the artwork is present in the form of its buildings, fountains and sculptures. At the same time, Joseph  Olbrich’s 1901 Ernst-Ludwig House, the former studio house and spiritual centre of the artists’ colony, is now a museum that presents fine and decorative art from the members of the artists’ colony. The unique integrity of the building complex is today a first-class cultural attraction, and the lively. contemporary centre of the Darmstadt’s cultural landscape. 

Note: The original Artists’ Colony group, headed by Joseph Maria Olbrich, included painter, decorative artist, and architect Peter Behrens; decorator Hans Christiansen; decorator Patriz Huber; sculptor Ludwig Habich; visual artist Rudolf Bosselt; and decorative painter Paul Bürck. Between 1904 and 1907, the group was joined by ceramicist Jakob j Scharvogel, glass blower Josef Emil Schneckendorf, and book craftsman Friedrich W Kleukens. 

After Joseph Olbrich’s death in 1908, architect and designer Albin Müller led the group. Under Müller’s leadership, the group expanded with majolica craftsman Bernhard Hoetger, goldsmiths Ernst Riegel and Theodore Wende, and Emanuel Margold, a student of painter Hans Hoffman.

Michael Triegel

The Artwork of Michael Triegel

Born in December of 1968 in Erfurt, Michael Triegel is a German painter, illustrator and graphic artist based in Leipzig. From 1990 to 1997, Michael Triegel studied at the renowned Hochschule fьr Grafik und Buchkunst in Leipzig, where he was taught by Arno Rink, a painter in the German figurative tradition.

The Academy in Leipzig is closely associated with the New Leipzig School, a movement in German art that arose following the fall of the Berlin Wall, of which the painter Neo Rauch, a proponent of social realism, is the most important representative.The members of this association largely use the same figurative form language, though they vary widely in terms of their technique. 

In terms of their subject matter and execution, Michael Triegel’s paintings are instilled with the atmosphere of the early European Renaissance. He works in the style of the old masters, applying layer upon layer with a very refined technique that compliments his ability for realistic detail. Triegel’s paintings are a celebration of pure figurative painting, with classic religious and profane motifs, which look like altarpieces but, at the same time, appear alienating and surreal.

In 2010, Michael Triegel, commissioned by the Bishop of Regensburg, painted the official portrait of Pope Benedict XVI, which resulted in international recognition of his work.

Hans Thoma

Hans Thoma, “Self Portrait in Front of a Birch Forest”, 1899, Oil on canvas, 94 x 75.5 cm, Städelscher Museums-Verein. Frankfurt  

Hans Thoma, “Apollo und Marsyas”, 1886, Oil on Panel, 45 x 55 cm, Kunkel Fine Art, Munich

Born on October 2, 1839 at Bernau in the Black Forest of Germany, Hans Thoma, in his youth, spent his summers drawing and painting landscapes and portraits of family members. Between 1859 and 1866, he studied at the Karlsruhe Academy under landscape painter Johann Wilhelm Schirmer and history and portrait painter Ludwig des Coudres, who made a significant influence upon his career. 

Hans Thoma entered the prestigious Düsseldorf Akademie in 1866, where he was introduced to modern French art. Two years later, he travelled to Paris, where he met painter Gustave Courbet, a leading painter in the Realism movement of France. Moving to Munich in 1870, Thoma shared a studio with realist painter Wilhelm Trübner and gradually changed his style, influenced by the German symbolist painters Hans von Marées and Arnold Böcklin. 

From 1876 to 1899 Hans Thoma lived in Frankfurt am Main, where he made contact with avant-garde artistic circles, and gradually achieved artistic success. He returned to the city of Karlsruhe in 1899 as director of the Kunsthalle, the city’s art museum. His reputation as a painter became firmly established with a 1900 exhibition of thirty paintings in Munich, after which he regularly exhibited in Germany. 

In 1909 a Hans Thoma Museum, showcasing his work, opened within the Karlsruhe Kunsthalle. Hans Thoma died in Karlsruhe in  November of 1924 at the age of eighty-five. His art was formed by his early impressions of the simple life of his native district and  his attraction to the works of the early German masters, such as Albrecht Altdorfer and Lucas Cranach the Elder.  In his love of the details of nature, in his precise drawing of outline, and in his predilection for local coloring, Hans Thoma has distinct affinities with the Pre-Raphaelite movement.

Insert Image: Hans Thoma, “Archers”, 1887, Oil on Board, 95 x 64 cm, Berlin State Museum

Note: A collection of one hundred-fifty works by Hans Thoma can be found at the ArtRenewal site located at: :

Monument to the Battle of Nations

The Monument to the Battle of Nations, Frontal View, Leipzig, Germany

The “Monument to the Battle of Nations” is a war memorial in Leipzig, Germany, to the 1813 Battle of Leipzig. It was completed in 1913 for the 100th anniversary of the battle, at a cost of six million Goldmarks, paid for mostly in donations and by the city of Leipzig. 

The monument commemorates Napoleon’s defeat at Leipzig, a crucial step toward the end of hostilities in the War of the Sixth Coalition, and was seen as a victory by the inhabitants of the area. The coalition armies of Russia, Prussia, Austria and Sweden were led by Tsar Alexander I of Russian and Karl Philipp, Prince of Schwarzenberg. There were German soldiers fighting for both sides, as Napoleon’s troops also include conscripted Germans from the French-occupied left bank of the RhineRiver as well as from the Confederation of the Rhine. 

The structure is ninety-one meters tall, containing over five hundred steps to a viewing platform at the top, from which one can view the city and environs. The structure makes extensive use of concrete, with its facings consisting of granite. Regarded as one of the best examples of Wilhelmine architecture and one of the tallest monuments in Europe, it is said to stand on the spot of the bloodiest fighting, from where Napoleon ordered the retreat of his army. It was also the scene of fighting in World War II, when Nazi forces in Leipzig made their last stand against US troops. 

Shortly after the battle, Ernst Moritz Arndt, a leading liberal and nationalistic writer, called for a national monument to be built at the battle site. Several small monuments to veterans of the war as well as memorial stones marking key points in the battle were placed. On the fiftieth anniversary of the battle, a cornerstone for a future grand monument was placed, and twenty-three German cities pledged money for its construction. In 1894, the Association of German Patriots was founded, which raised by means of donations and a lottery, the funds necessary to construct the monument for the 100th anniversary of thee battle. 

German architect Bruno Schmitz, due to his previous works in monuments, received the commission. The city of Leipzig donated the ten acre lot and  construction began in 1898. Over twenty-six thousand granite blocks were used and the resulting total cost was twenty-eight million in 2020 Euros. On the 18th of October 1913, the ‘Völkerschiachtdenkmal’ was inaugurated in the presence of one hundred thousand people, including Wilhelm II, and all the reigning sovereign rulers of the German states.

Rudolf Tewes

Rudolf Tewes, “Self-Portrait”, 1906, Oil on Canvas

Rudolf Tewes, born on September 3 of 1879, was the son of a respected merchant and consul. He studied at the Munich Academy of Fine Arts, one of the oldest and most prestigious academies in Munich..After 1904, Tewes toured extensively in Italy, Spain, France and South America. He resided in Paris from 1919 to 1927, moving once again to become a resident of Berlin and a member of the Berlin Secession, a part of German Modernism and an alternative to the existing art conventions.

Tewew intensely studied the paintings of Vincent van Gogh. His self-portrait, seen above, was exhibited for the first time under an exhibition held by the Berlin Secession and clearly showed Van Gogh’s influence upon Rudolf Tewes. The parallels in the brushwork, choice of color and picture object led to a joint presentation of twenty Tewes paintings with seven paintings by Van Gogh in 1910 in the Kunsthalle Bremen, an atrt museum exhibiting French and German art from the 1800s to the 1950s.

In 1913 the Kunsthalle Bremen acquired Tewes’s “Self-Portrait” as a gift from the gallery association. Tewes moved to Bremen in 1939, living there until his death in 1965. The Bremen Kunsthalle dedicated a special exhibition to Rudolf Tewes in 2000 entitled. Rudolf Tewes- A Painter under the Late Impresssionism”.

Dragon Aquamanile

Dragon Aquamanile, 1200 AD, Copper Alloy, Northern Germany, 22 x18 cm., The Cloisters Collection, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City

An aquamanile is a vessel made specifically to hold water for hand-washing. Most of the Middle-Ages aquamaniles are fashioned from copper or bronze, an alloy of copper and tin with other metals. The artists used a lost was process, a time consuming and complicated process, to fashion these hollow figures. This process has been in use since the 4th century B.C.

Karl Hofer

Karl Hofer, “Jüngling am Fenster (Youth at the Window)”, 1933, Oil on Canvas, Museum Wiesbaden, Germany

Born in 1878 in Karlsruhe, Germany, Karl Hofer was a painter notable for his extensive contributions to the German Expressionist movement. Figurative, conservatively rendered working-class Germans most often adorn his canvases, with his subjects and style varied over the course of his career. The classical portraits of his early years gave way to politically charged Expressionist figures, which, during the Nazi regime, were denounced as “degenerate art”. These finally morphed into his Cubist-inspired compositions of post-war life.

Hofer received little recognition during his early career, and never joined an Expressionist painting group like Die Brücke. By the end of his life, however, Hofer was considered one of the greatest German painters of his time, and his works can now be found in many collections around the world, including the Art Institute of Chicago, The Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the Kunsthalle Mannheim in Germany.

Sigmar Polke

Sigmar Polke, “Kandinsdingsda”, 1976, Gouache, Acrylic and Collage on Paper Mounted on Canvas, Artist’s Estate

Sigmar Polke was born in Oels, an east German region, in 1941. His family soon fled to west Germany in 1953, settling in Dusseldorf where Polke studied at the Dusseldorf Art Academy between the years 1961 and 1967. While still in school, Polke, along with Gerhard Richter and Konrad Fischer, founded the Captialist Realism movement.

The Capitalist Realism movement incorporated aspects of American Pop Art’s interest in consumer and popular imagery with abstraction and an emphasis on a progressive use of mediums. The movement also instilled into their works satirical commentary about consumerism, the political climate in Germany at the time: the movement’s name was a play on the Russian art movement of Socialist Realism.

Polke’s artistic practice embraced and incorporated mistakes such as drips, tears, and copy printing errors into his paintings. His experimentation with photography in the 1970s intentionally disregarded the standard rules: dropping the wrong chemicals onto the paper, turning on the light during development, brushing the developer on selectively, using exhausted fixer. Polke would then use these ‘mistakes’ to explore his interest in abstract pictorial space.

Polke’s irreverence for classical artistic practices made for an innovative and stylistically uncategorizable body of work that used photography and printed materials as source material, silkscreened layers on top of painterly expanses, chemical substances and other non-art materials within a collage-like aesthetic.


A Year: Day to Day Men: 11th of October

Two Silver Rings

October 11, 1634 marks the night of the Burchardi Flood that struck the North Sea coast of North Frisia and Dithmarschen, now modern day Germany.

The Buchardi flood hit the northern-most coast of Germany during a weak economic time. A plague epidemic had spread across the land in 1603. Fighting had occurred between the inhabitants and the troops of Frederick III during the Thirty Years’ War, leading to the inhabitants defeat in 1629. This fighting caused great damage to the coastal protections against heavy weather.

Several floods had hit the coastline before the Burchadi incident. Large floating pieces of winter ice had already caused major damage to the dikes by 1625. The losses from the war and lack of ready resources led to insufficient maintenance of the dikes; even in the summer the dikes were failing.

The weather had been calm for weeks before the flood; however a strong storm began on the evening of October 11, 1634, heading ashore from the east. The winds turned southwest during the evening, developing into a extratropical cyclone from the northeast. The sea rose to the top of the dikes. Rain washed away soil from under houses, destroying them and washing away its occupants. Ships were left stranded on roadways.

The first dike broke in the Stintebull Parish on Strand Island at ten o’clock in the evening. By two o’clock in the morning, the water had reached its peak level, about thirteen feet above mean high tide levels. During the night the dikes broke at several hundred locations along the North Sea coastline of Schleswig-Holstein. Estimations of fatalities range from 8,000 to 15,000 people; however, there was an undetermined number of foreign workers in the area who could not be accounted for after the flood.

On Strand Island alone, at least 6,000 people lost their lives, two-thirds of the population of the island. Fifty thousand livestock were lost; the water destroyed 1,300 houses and 30 of the island’s mills. All twenty-one of the churches were heavily damaged, with seventeen completely destroyed. The entire new harvest was destroyed; and the island of Strand was torn apart into smaller islands, with two major portions of the island’s previous land submerged.

Large parts of the coastal land were flooded for weeks and months. Due to tidal currents, the breaches in the dikes increased and several dikes completely washed into the sea. Saline sea water submerged the fields, rendering them useless for agriculture. According to the Nordstrand dike law, any tenant who could not secure the land against the sea with dikes forfeited their right of owning land. Thus many of the surviving and now destitute farmers lost the right to their homes.

Raoul Hausmann

Raoul Hausmann, “The Spirit of Our Time”, 1920, Assemblage with Wooden Head

Rauol Hausmann was an Austrian artist, a founder and a central figure in the Dada Movement in Berlin. He began his formal training at the atelier of Arthur Lewin-Funcke where he focused on anatomy and nude drawing. He later connected with the German Expressionist movement, studying woodcutting and lithography under Erich Heckel.

In 1917, Hausmann met Richard Hulsenbedk, who introduced him to the principles and philosophy of Dada, a new and visual art and literary movement. Dada artists and writers created provocative works that questioned capitalism and conformity, which they believed to be the fundamental motivations for the first World War which had just ended, leaving chaos and destruction throughout Europe.

‘Spirit of Our Time’ was a sculptural metaphor for the inability of the establishment to inspire the changes necessary to rebuild a better Germany. This sculpture illustrated Raoul Hausmann’s belief that the average supporter of what he considered to be a corrupt society had no more capabilities than those which chance had glued to the outside of his skull; his brain remained empty. With his eyes deliberately left blank, the ‘Spirit of Our Time’ was a blind automaton whose blinkered attitude excluded any possibility of creative thought.

Adolf von Hildebrand

Adolf von Hildebrand, “Stehender Junger Mann ( Standing Young Man ), 1881-1884. Marble, National Gallery, Berlin

Adolf von Hildebrand was a German sculptor, working in the Neo-classical tradition. He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Nuremberg and at the Murnich Academy. Hildebrand designed the architectual setting for Hans von Marees’ murals in the library of the German marine Zoological Institute at Naples, Italy. He also executed a monumental fountain, the Witelisbacher Brunnen, In Berlin.

Alice Lex-Nerlinger

Alice Lex-Nerlinger, “Racecar Driver”, 1926, Vintage Silver Print from an Original Photogram, Private Collection

Alice Lex-Nerlinger, was born in 1893 to the owner of a gas lamp factory on Moritzplatz in Berlin-Kreuzberg. Between 1911 and 1916, she studied painting and graphic art at the Teaching Institute of the Museum of Arts and Crafts under painter and lithographer Emil Orlik and other teachers. 

Personal experience of the First World War and the atmosphere of artistic experiment in 1920s Berlin created provided a source of ideas for Alice Lex-Nerlinger’s artistic works: heroism versus the soldier’s death, man and machine, capital and labour, state and censor, and not least, the misogynist. She found stimulus and confirmation in groups of artists with similar attitudes such as the Abstrakten (the Abstracts) and the Association of Revolutionary Fine Artists in Germany founded in 1928. Like Alice Lex, these groups rejected Expressionism, Cubism and Dadaism as bourgeois art. She expressed her political convictions by joining the German Communist Party (KPD) along with her husband Oskar Nerlinger in 1928.

Photographs, newspaper clippings and strikingly contrasted colors, such as red and blue, provided the ingredients for Lex-Nerlinger’s socially critical montages, specializing in photomontages and colored spray painting. Her work was often produced in sequential series creating rhythm and multi-dimensionality. Lex-Nerlinger succeeded in translating the complexity of political statements into simply structured individual images or compositions which prompted discussion and inquiry.

In 1933 Lex-Nerlinger was expelled from the German Association of Fine Artists by the National Socialists and banned from practicing her profession and from exhibiting her artwork. Censorship and this ban on her artwork drove her into engaging in underground political activities against the regime. 

Alice Lex-Nerlinger did manage to survive during National Socialism in Germany; but, fearful of persecution and house searches, she destroyed some of her artworks. After the Second World War, she worked in the German Democratic Republic primarily on official portrait commissions. She was honored with a honorary pension in 1960, which she received with the support of the Germany Academy of Arts, and was honored with the Patriotic Order of Merit of the GDR in 1974. 

Fox and His Friends

Gif from “Fox and His Friends”

“Fox and His Friends” is a 1975 West German film written and directed by Rainer Eerner Fassbinder, starring Fassbinder, Peter Chatel and Karlheinz Bohm. The plot follows the misadventures of a working-class homosexual man who wins the lottery, then falls in love with the elegant son of an industrialist.

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