Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Christa von Lettow-Vorbeck, un-obscuring a printmaker

Christa von Lettow-Vorbeck
(1881 - 1945)
German (Berlin) painter, illustrator and printmaker
sister of Paul: the Africa General.

I discovered this “Bend in a country road” in a Dutch internet advertising-auction site (see below). It was sitting there for a considerable time (unsold offers running out only after months) until, after some friendly negotiating, I decided to buy it. This posting exclusively revealing the woodblock prints created by this Berlin printmaker and showing them for the first time together.    

Researching the www. brought nothing much to light but directed me to a local Berlin museum which had catalogued, along with my "Bend in the road", some more examples of her woodblock prints. They were, on my request photographed and send to me thanks to the friendly help of Ulrich Roeske from Heimatverein Steglitz Museum.

My copy of the transcendent “Käthe, Paula und der ganze Rest” (see below) learning she was educated in Berlin and Paris (although I could not find where) and was a member of the Berlin Women Artists Association (Verein der Berliner Künstlerinnen, VdBK) 1924-1942 mentioned as a painter and illustrator exhibiting regularly over those years.

Just this one other, outside the museum and auctioned in 2012, print (below) I was able to locate. A coach or cariage passing by a gate building.

Other then she was born in an old Prusian nobility and military family which saw many high ranking officers  (generals) nothing much was found concerning her biography. Besides mentioning she was the younger sister of Afrika General Paul Emil von Lettow-Vorbeck (1870-1964) perhaps the most famous member of his family.

He was an interesting character indeed. Serving in German East Africa he became a WWI hero, honoured and respected on both sides never to have lost a single battle or engagement with the (British) enemy while leading a rag tag and improvised querilla army consisting of just few trained German soldiers, native (Askari) and women fighters. Hearing the news the war was ended two weeks after he came out of jungle and surrendered with honor.

And here are the three examples, the only ones I was able to find, of Christa's oil paintings. 

“Käthe, Paula und der ganze Rest”: a reference (pocket)book on the history of the VdBK (ISBN 3 89181 411 9). Danke Thomas (Galerie Schöne Dinge Berlin)

Grafiekkabinet: dealers in graphic art on: Marktplaats ("Dutch Ebay") 

Marktplaats: Dutch Ebay owned advertising-auction site. Go to: http://www.marktplaats.nl Type: grafiekkabinet and mark the little box below. Or Google: grafiekkabinet + marktplaats and chose picture search. This will deliver most offers also.

Steglitz Museum Berlin, Heimatvereinhttp://www.steglitz-museum.de/der_verein.php

Read some very intersting history here: Paul Emil Lettow-Vorbeck:

All pictures borrowed freely from the Internet for friendly educational non commercial use only.


  1. The print you purchased is lovely. I also like the one with the rain coming down. Woodblock prints (especially the Japanese) show rain so much better than oil paintings. Good work, Gerrie.

    1. Thank you, ye most faithful of readers and commentors. I think so too, she definitely deserved the spotlights. The one with the rain is stylish indeed surprisingly Japanese, but also British and rather "unGerman".