Monday, 2 December 2013

Moritz von Gruenewaldt, in Dresden Zoo ?

Otto Robert 
Moritz von Gruenewaldt
(1870 born Estonia – 1933 died Münich)

Estonian-German bookplate artist
and woodblock printmaker.

I don’t think many people ever heard of this artist except maybe the bookplate collector. A handful of bookplates can be found Googling, exquisite miniatures,  and there has been a folio (or book) in existence showing this work in the first decade of the 20th century. 

This lovely print of a duck very reminding of the William Nicholson (1872-1949) duck from his Square Book of Animals (1899) but also of Hilde Exner's (1880-1922) pigeons, of the Ver Sacrum (or Vienna Secession) period: 1903. 

Otto Robert's aristocratic portrait I've found in the Estonian archives of the “Korporatsioon Livonia” the student club of the Tartu (Dorpat) University where he was a member 1890-1891. This university was established 1632, when the Swedes ruled, and was preceded by an even older Gymnasium. 

Under Russian Rule since 1710, the (a) Moritz von Gruenewaldt family even made it to governor halfway the 19th century but I have no idea if this has any relation with Otto Roberts branch of the family. 10 years before an Otto Ernst Moritz von G. (b.1860) was also a student member but he was inscribed a law student a decade before in 1880, he was born in St. Petersburg, Russia. It was in this membership archive he was named Otto Robert. All later reference only speaking of Moritz von Gruenewaldt. The signature is always "M.v.Grunewaldt". Confusing.

Not long ago I saw a woodblock print that made me strongly think of Martin Erich Philipp, the pictures not good enough to identify the signature then. It was just the sort of “déja vu” discovering the prints of Walter Helfenbein (1893-1984). I introduced this Dresden artist recently here*. I have a strong feeling both men were in Dresden Zoo with Philipp. It was the "Crowned Crane" print below. 

And then recently I saw another one but now recognizing the style and the signature. Both prints, the "Crowned Crane" and the "Lady Amhurst Pheasant" probably have belonged together (the one below had a Berlin dealer label) because, with some time in between they were offered by the same seller.

And from a collectors point of view they, “of course”, should have stayed  together or at least be re-united some day. But I can only conclude they aren’t anymore. Maybe one day they will, who knows. Whoever has the Crane, maybe stumbling over this posting, he or she may contact me any time. 

Written in pencil on the back of the small sheet (it measures only 12 x 18 cm.) a to me not readable text (in Fraktur Schrift: "zum kleinen lieben …..probably ending with: ….. von ….Grünewaldt.") and the date: October 1925. Maybe there's a clue. Maybe a certain German collector who helped out before can.   
 Martin Erich Philipp's prints of Dresden Zoo Pheasants and Cranes from a around decade before. 

This posting summing up what I’ve discovered so far on this forgotten,  obscured but talented artist. Any additions, corrections or comments are as always very welcome.

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


  1. Moritz v Gruenewaldt was my grandfather (my motherJane´s father)! I never met him, he died long before I was born. Thanks for sharing these lovely pictures!

    1. Hello, thank you for stopping by. If you want please email me ( for maybe some details about this artist because of my research project.

    2. Moritz v Gruenewaldt was also my grandfather,(Hans Wolter vG's father).I have a number of his paintings with catalogues.

    3. Please send pictures if that's not to much trouble.

  2. I am researching Hans Wolter Von Gruenewaldt born 1907 a POW in Australia I have several of his painting