Sunday, 11 November 2012

Martha Wenzel and her Munich friends.

Some 2 years ago, in my early blogging days, I showed you Martha Wenzel’s illustrious print I bought for my wife’s birthday because it was so reminding of our two granddaughters. It was edited in 1905 as an  “Original Beilage zur Zeitschrift für Bildende Kunst”. There never was another edition. 

All prints found signed are with fake signatures. What bothered me most since is I haven’t been able to find any more biographical information or more examples of  Martha Wenzel’s art. Untill, recently, reader Björn Peck from America send me an email with a print attached that he owns and a link to an article in “Deutsche Kunst und Dekoration 1905”. It's titled "vor dem Café"

Martha Wenzel (1856-1943), born in Prussia some 80 Km N.E. of Berlin, studied in Munich under Ernst Neumann (1871-1954). Neumann was just as pivotal and important a figure to Modern Printmaking as Orlik was in Vienna, Fletcher and Nicholson in London, Dow in New York and Lepère, Kandinsky, Valoton and Munch in Paris. Neumann studied in Paris before he was appointed in Munich Art School.
Ernst and his younger brother Hans were the sons of Emil Neumann (1842-1903) who was a painter and appointed professor in the town of Kassel. The Neumann family originating from what is now the Russian enclave Kaliningrad (former Königsburg) situated between Poland and the Baltic States.

Ernst Neumann later added Neumann-Neander to his family name and created fame as an early automobile and motor designer. He travelled Europe and later settled in Berlin leading a poster and advertising company. Like William Nicholson and James Pryde did, the renowned Beggarstaff company.

The Munich School of printmaking, according to the author in “Deutsche Kunst” the “Munchen Holzschnitt was characterized by “das zarte bindende Grau”. The tender binding (tying together) color gray. An all important clue to the Munich School of printmaking.

To quote  Clive's conclusion: “the Munich School matte finish”. As you can see  the gray (or gray-ish) appearance can also be achieved by printing a translucent color over the black and darker colors.
Here are some of Martha Wenzels Munich contemporaries in 1905 mentioned in the article.
Martha Cunz (1876-1961) from St. Gallen, Switzerland, who also studied in Kassel and Berlin. Her print "Abend" (over St.Gallen), believe it or not, was her first try at printmaking in 1901/02......

And of course Ernst’s brother Hans Neumann (1873-1957). Both artists were rather proliferous printmakers (Cunz created 71 known prints) and recently some never before seen prints  showed up. This picture of "Graziella" is shown in the article but  I haven't been able to find one in color. I wonder if it was inspirational later to Arthur Rigden Reads "Woman with a scarf prints". The earliest work of Hans Neumann (around 1905) is showing obvious ties leading from Munich to the inspirational leaders of the Secessionists in Vienna, Emil Orlik, Max Kurzweil and Koloman Moser.

But other artists were mentioned, some of them only by their family name and most of them only with examples in black and white pictures. So I had to do some research. Like A(lfred) Braun who no-one has heard of after but very unjustifiably so and one R(udolf) Treumann, who shares the same faith. These two prints proving however their shared background and skills. Later Carl Rotky (1891-1977) after graduating as a doctor went from Prag to Munich following his heart to study art and also created his "Lanes" in yellows and grays in the best of Munich printmaking tradition. 
There's even a line to contemporary Austrian printmaker August Trummer (1942) who has known Carl Rotky personally:

The author in Deutsche Kunst und Dekoration has chosen, with a reason, both full color page-sized examples by Carl Liner (1871-1946) that were  probably made exclusively for this magazine like Martha Wenzels "Spaziergang" was for Zeitschrift für Bildende Kunst. I’m sure his choice shows best his point: “das zarte bindende Grau”. 

Liner seems to have switched to painting alltogether after returning to Switzerland in 1902 but he must have picked up some serious Nicholson from Eugen Herzig’s London lessons seeing his portrait of a lady in woodcut print. According to the author, Eugen Herzig travelled to study with William Nicholson in London. As Emil Orlik did by the way. 
Liner, Herzig, Herzig and Nicholson

You may judge for yourself if you think Herzig picked up anything from this great man. There’s really nothing to be found on Eugen Herzig but there’s one Heinrich Herzig (1887-1964) from Rheineck (in St. Gallen !) studying painting in Munich in 1909 were he is living with his (not named) brother. Returning home he became a celebrated artist. Some time ago I’ve found this parrot print by Eugen Herzig. He must have been acquainted with the earliest (1908) of parrot prints by Martin Erich Philipp (1887-1974) in Dresden. A city Heinrich visited during his studies.

There's an artist mentioned with a romantic and monumental name: Karl Gustave Theodor Schmoll von Eisenwerth (1879-1948) whoms prints, and those of others,  are treated in the article and  that I'll discuss in next posting.

All pictures borrowed freely from the Internet for friednly,educational and non commercial use.


  1. What an art historian you are, Gerrie. This is a wonderful blog, one connection leading to another, down through the years. In my opinion, you are doing important work . . . sometimes assisted by your readers.


    1. No no, defenitely not an art historian, just committed using the friendly possiblilites and powers of the Internet. The investment of two years of blogging is rewarded by comments like yours and sometimes the discovery of obscured prints and printmakers with the help of interested readers.

  2. Hello,

    just found something, no print but a painting said to be by Martha Wenzel. Slightly different birth date, but... here's the link
    Regards Fae

    1. thank you Fae, this information is very welcome !