Friday, 6 February 2015

Fanny Remak, Part III, her friends: Julie Wolfthorn

Julie Wolfthorn
(born Julie Wolf(f)
(Thorn 1864 - murdered 1944 Theresiënstadt Ghetto)
German painter, celebrated portrait and grafic artist. 

Friend and colleague of Fanny Remak.
(Please help me by sending more/new information) 
Trying to unveil the obscured life and career of Fanny Remak (Thorn 1883-1970 London) today I take a look at the life and career of her friend Julie Wolfthorn. Both women worked closely together for some years in the board of the “Verein der Berliner Künstlerinnen” until 1933 the Nazis made their work and eventually their life impossible.
Fanny had been a member of the VdBK since 1913, her friend Käthe Munzer (see Fanny Remak: Part II) since 1904 and Julie Wolfthorn since 1898. Fanny was elected chairwoman in 1928 and Julie joined her in the board in 1931 and they were in function until 1933. Both women sharing a Jewish and Polish (Preussian) background. Their families originating from roughly the same region although the Remaks had settled in Berlin a generation or two earlier. 
In 1933 the Jewish artists and board members were replaced by “Arien” colleagues Elisabeth von Oertzen, Helene Mass and L.E.Margarethe Gerhardt, all former board members and all three happened to be, besides painters, “Farbholzschnitt” or colour woodblock printmakers. All three appeared earlier in this Blog (follow the labels below).  
Julie Wolfthorn has recently been the artist of research by Dr. Heike Carstensen who researched, reconstructed and published Julie's biography so I'ld better not go into any detail in this humble and unscolarly posting.
In the beginning of her career as an artist Julie designed several covers for the influential and innovative Magazine "Jugend" becoming later one of the first really successful woman artist-painters in the beginning of the 20th century Germany.

She would paint the portraits of Berlins “beau-monde”, intellectuals, doctors, feminists, writers, artists etc..  and lived for over 30 years with her sister Luise, a translator, in their house and studio in the  Kurfürstenstrasse 50, near Berlin Zoo, a continuation of the famous Kurfürstendamm and not far from Café Splendid on nr. 75 (above). She was acquainted, worked and exhibited with all great artists of her time: Lovis Corinth, Max Liebermann, Franz von Stuck, Hans Hayek etc… (left, Julie in 1908) 

In 1896 she was introduced to Ida and poet Richard Dehmel by her friend, poet and translator Hedwig Lachmann (1865-1918) in 1896 and was commissioned to paint the couple exhibiting the result in the "Grossen Berliner Kunstaustelling" the next year marking the beginning of her career as Germany’s foremost portrait painter. 
Hedwich Lachmann and Ida Dehmel
Ida Dehmel was the founder of the German and Austrian Women Artists Association (GEDOK). Avoiding the inevitable faith of all Jews in Nazi Germany she took her own life in 1942.   

Although once celebrated and famous, not even actively of the Jewish faith, harmless and now elderly in 1944 she was deported from her Berlin (above "Berl;inner Strasse") with her sister and transported to Theresiënstad “model”-Ghetto and perished under abominable and most inhuman conditions but never losing her dignity.  
Coming from middle class Jewish background a good or fine education for girls was quite normal and considered an obligation even. The German language needs only one (composite) word to describe it's philosophic and enlightened meaning: "Bürger-Bildingspflicht":  the obligation for any citizen or human being to educate one self and make the best out of your abilities and precious life. 
Under the wings of her grandmother Johanna Neumann-Kuehlbrandt (1816-1899) who was a writer, feminist and a poet) and had moved to Berlin maybe also to finish the education of her orphaned grandchildren and living in the Nettelbeckstrasse 7/II Julie as youngest of 5 children (like her friend Fanny Remak) was encouraged and enabled to study with the best private teachers and in the best private painting schools in Germany and abroad.

Adolph Eduard Herstein
This address later was owned by Henriette (Bock-) Neumann (see below) one of Johanna's other granddaughters returning from Poland because of better schools for her children in Berlin. Next door in the building was also the house and studio of Adolph Eduard Herstein (1869-1932) a German-Polish painter, graphic artist, teacher, and Secessionist who had an affair (and a son) with countess Fanny zu Reventlow (interesting reading here*).  

Studying in Paris Julie was accompanied by her niece Olga Fayans (1869-1954), one of Germany’s first female physicians. 
And possibly she was also accompanied in Paris by another niece, Henrietta Neumann (later married lawyer Leon Bock), who was enabled to study with Pauline Viardot-García (1821-1910) at that time probably the most famous opera singer in the world (above). Several of her nieces became opera singers, doctors, writers and artists or married one. Many also not surviving the Holocaust. Several nephews immigrated making careers in the USA.
In Paris, in the Académie Colarossi, (above) around 1890 Julie could have met Anna Klumpke (1856-1942) the American (portrait) painter and later companion of Rosa Bonheur (1822-1899) the world’s 19th century’s most successful female painter, friend of George Sand the muze of Frédéric Chopin.  (Read here*  more about the astonishing Klumpke sisters).

Anna Gerresheim (1852-1921) is mostly remembered by her Ahrenshoop artist colony background but very successful as a free creating (portrait) painter somewhat before Julie started her own career. She is probably one of the first, maybe even the first artist in Germany to have tried at color woodblock printmaking but that will have to wait to a next posting. She had been an early member of the VdBK (1884-98) exhibiting in the “Großer Berliner Kunstaustellung” from 1881. All these liberated women will have been a role model for many younger German woman artists.

Some of Julie's close relatives:
Johanna Neumann-Kuehlbrandt (1816-1899), was her grand-mother, poet, writer and active in  women's liberation circles.
Georg Wolf (1858-1930) above, a sculptor, was her brother. Said to have created a sculpture of two of his nieces (Marianne and Leonora, Olga Hempels daughters) in Tiergarten Berlin: but where is it ?
Luise Wolf (1860-1944 murdered Theresiënstadt), translator, was her sister.
Henrietta Bock-Neumann (1865-1942 murdered Theresiënstadt), opera singer and translater, was her niece. 
Meta Neumann (1859-1943 murdered Theresiënstadt) well known singer, was her niece.
Dr. Olga Hempel-Fajans (1869-1954), one of Germany’s first doctors, was her niece.
Mina Arndt (1885-1926) important New-Zealand painter, was her niece (their grandmothers were sisters). She studied in England, Wales and Berlin (with Franz von Stuck and Max Liebermann) and visited, of course, her niece Julie while in Berlin (between 1907-1914). 

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

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