Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Bertha Schrader continued: Blaues Wunder !

Bertha Schrader
(Memel 1845 - 1920 Moritzburg/Dresden)  
Painter and woodblock printmaker 

In 1893 the “König Albert Brücke” spanning the Elbe River was opened. A marvel of technical engineering it was the worlds first bridge this length spanning an entire river without a central pillar. It connects the Dresden townships of Blasewitz and Loschwitz. It was named after King Albert of Saxony (1828-1902) but in 1912 it was renamed "Loschwitzer Brucke" and knicknamend lovingly "Blaues Wunder"

It was Dresdens 5th bridge across the Elbe river and the only one to survive WWII devastations (and German sabotage) undamaged.  

Bertha Schader will have witnessed its construction, completion and opening. In 1912 a painting showing the bridge in a "recent Exhibition of Women Painters" in Dresden is mentioned (below). Sadly I cannot find any records of it other then this article in the prestigious magazine “The Studio”. The painting is probably lost.

The exhibition was held under the auspices of H.R.H. princess Mathilde, (she appeared earlier in this Blog here*) and was herself also represented with a painting. She was the artistic daughter of Albert’s successor, his brother King Georg of Saxony (1832-1904) but he died after just two years of reign. 
Bertha's view on Loschwitzer Bridge, painting owned by reader Katy in America
Bertha Schrader was as most (all?) pioneering women printmakers an accomplished and professional painter first. Until last week her history (she came from Memel in the Baltic) was shrouded in the mist of time. And lost in the total destruction of Dresden. She must have loved this spot because from the few surviving and known paintings by her hand there are 4 she made from this bend in the river upstream from the bridge and the "Altstadt". In the pointillist style of her teacher Paul Baum (1859-1932) in Dresden and also in the style of another of her teachers: Paul Graeb (1842-1892) from Berlin (below). 

Both paintings by Bertha Schrader

Dresden, build over centuries, “Florence on the Elbe”, was destroyed in just two days between 13 and 15 February 1945 as act of barbaric retaliation by civilized nations on a scale the world had never seen before. Disguised as, justified a necessity by bomber command to end a war that already was coming to an end. We today judge. Probably 25.000 citizens died in the firestorms, nobody knows. Exactly. Today Dresden is rebuild to its former glory.

Bertha Schader appears only as foot-notes in the transcendent German "Thieme Becker Künstler Lexikon" and French “Benezit”. She had been a student of Paul Baum, a former Meissen porcelain painter. He had been living and working since 1890 in the Knokke “artist colony” in Belgium and had returned in 1895 to be involved in the Dresden Secession. He himself had been a student of landscape painter Theodor Hagen (1842-1919) in Weimar.

Paul Baum (above), considered Germany’s last impressionist, soon returned to the Low Lands living and working in Sint Anna-ter-Muiden, near Sluis in province Zeeland for almost twenty years (1895- 1914). But eventually he returned to Dresden as a professor in Dresden Art Academy. Comparing Bertha with Paul Baum one can see how close they must have been: paintings by the student and the master are hardly distinguishable. Bertha, I'm sure, stayed with Baum in Sluis (below) and I could see them painting together on the canal.

"Canal" (possibly Sluis) by Bertha Schrader and "Sluis" by Paul Baum
(added info, see comments) 

In Sluis Baum also was visited by Lovis Corinth (1858-1925) the master from Berlin who on the occasion painted him (below). Max Liebermann (1847-1935) also liked to paint on the Dutch and Belgian coast.

Meeting Dutch painter Theo van Rijsselberghe (1862-1926) and already a (late or post-) follower of the Impressionists Baum later adopted the pointillist technique and colour theories of George Seurat (1859-1891) and Paul Signac (1963-1935).   

As we shall see in next posting Bertha (above right, probably in the Netherlands, left: Seurat in Honfleur) had besides her colleague and teacher (and friend?) Paul Baum family connections in the Netherlands. As she had in Norway where she also travelled to, to visit and to paint. 

She visited relatives and family on a little island connected with a wooden bridge to the mainland and no doubt has met a couple of very illustrious and famous colleagues (like the one above who happened to live there). All this I learned thanks to Katy, the present owner of this “Blaue Wunder” painting which today is in America. She is distantly, not directly since Bertha stayed unmarried, related to Bertha Schrader and Katy has found me through the Blog. Wonderful ! More to follow soon.

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


  1. Love your blog and the effort that you put into your research. However, sometimes it's very difficult to know which artist painted which painting because often-times, your artist identification is very unclear. It would really help if you printed the artist's names underneath their paintings.

  2. Thank you for leaving a comment. Although my "policy" is not to publish anonymous comments I decided making an exception. I always appreciate positive feedback. As I always try to be accurate with the artists and the works I show in the Blog I have to disagree however with "often-times" and "unclear". The choice of not "printing the artists name underneath their paintings" is mostly a deliberate one. There's always a reference to the artist in the nearby text. In the case of the last painting shown in this article: you are absolutely right. It was left out deliberately. To make curious. If you did not recognize the artist: it's by Edvard Munch. But speaking as the teacher I once was: I'm making your home work: no points !
    I can see your other points (you're right) and will take your advice to heart and make some adjustments to improve readability immediately. Thanks !

  3. Hi Gerrie!
    Those are all lovely paintings! However, I have a problem with a thing in your commentary on the blog: I find it offensive and crude of you to insult the Dresdner’s and the few who survived the hellish inferno (a true holocaust by the very definition!) by stating that about 25.000 died - but protecting your previous statement by saying "nobody knows"!. You may want to read "THE JUSTFICATION OF THE BOMBING OF DRESDEN?" which goes into more detail than what a commentary field at Blogger would permit:

    Have a great day.

    1. Hallo Franz, thank you for stopping by. However I do not understand your reading anything "offensive and crude". It will have to do with your reading the posting in English as a German and my writing it in English as a Dutchman. I wasn't aware of "protecting" or even making any "statement". The figure of 25.000 is an historically "agreed" estimate, so I've read and checked, after many earlier calculations. Also agreed upon is: nobody knows exactly. Could be twice as much, but probably not less. That is how my words were meant. I apologize for any confusion I might have caused. GC.