Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Margarete Donath, quest for a forgotten Dresden painter & printmaker (1/3)

Margarete Donath (I)
( ? – after 1930)
German painter and printmaker

Just this one print in the Van der Grinten Collection shown in the indispensable “Frühzeit der Modernen Holzschnitts”, and her name is (almost) all that is known about this artist.  She is not mentioned in any Artist Lexicon but the equally indispensable “1930 Dresslers Kunsthandbuch” gives: “M (aler, painter), Dresden, Weisser Hirsch, Hermannstrasse 2”.
In an article treating Dresden street names “Weisser Hirsch” with distuingished villa’s and sanatoriums, private hospitals and guesthouses it is confirmed that Margarete Donath (“Malerin und Graphikerin”) lived here. In 1922 the street was renamed “Lauritzerstrasse” (which obviously had not reached Dresslers editorial staff in 1930). There are only 4 villas in this small stretch of street.

An attempt to reveal her identity with the help of readers.

1) The neighbourhood. 

Weisser Hirsh,  Loschwitz near Dresden

Crossing river Elbe the “Loschwitzerbrücke", completed in 1893 and nicknamed “das Blaue Wunder”, connects Dresden with “Weisser Hirsch” a part of “Loschwitz”, today greater Dresden.
Bertha Schrader (1845-1920) painter and printmaker lived in the Christianstrasse 19 (the residence of  Dresdens specialists and doctors) in Dresdens “Altstadt” (I met her before in this Blog: follow the tag) painted the bridge and river Elbe.
After completion of the cast-iron bridge two steam driven funicular railways ("Stadtseilbahn") were build: a suspended railway leading to a panorama and a 550 meter stretch of railway connecting Loschwitz with "Weisser Hirsch" a villa quarter developed around an ancient Inn by that name.

This particular area of Dresden end of the 19th century became the centre of the "Naturheil-sanatorien". The treatment by natural remedies developed in contrary to the scientific medicine during the 19th century. Dresden was before and after 1900 a centre of "naturopathy": the pioneering therapy using primary the applications of diet, physical exercises, water and light. It saw some famous patients, writers, poets, artists: Franz Kafka, Rainer Maria Rilke, Thomas Mann and Oskar Kokoschka seeking treatment by natural remedies. read here*. 

One of the most prominent and successful doctors running a sanatorium and health Spa in Weisser Hirsch was Dr. Heinrich Lahmann (1860-1905).  He started his business in 1887 and it became so successful, adding many building, baths and exercise facilities and in a short time added several (7) villas to his emporium to accommodate the flow of new patients.
One of them, Villa Eschebach, build in 1877 as a summer residence for Dresden industrial, art collector, Maecene and one of Dresdens richest inhabitants Carl Eschebach (1842-1905) he rented from 1887 as his house but after his untimely death it is known as "Kurpenzion Donath". The health related connection between Lahmann and the Donath family will be treated in next posting. Although I have no idea how the Donath name came to be attached to this perticular house. 
The villa was used as a hotel for patients of the sanatorium until probably 1918 when it was bought by Dutch Consul Willem van Ameyden van Duym (1857-1917) and his family who owned the house until 1930.
Both Lahmann and Eschebach died in 1905 of complications of the Influenza pandemic. Penicillin had yet to be discovered (Fleming, 1928) but it lasted until WWII becoming available as anti-biotic treatment. No sanatorium or naturopathy treatment could save these men. 

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

All pictures mouse-clckable to embiggen. 


part 2) meeting the neighbors in "Weisser Hirsch" Loschwitz, Dresden 1900-20.
part 3) meeting some members of the Donath family in Loschewitz, Tolkewitz, Gartenlaube and Lockwitzgrund.    


  1. Hi Gerrie - a couple of years ago I bought a lot of 3 Donaths on Ebay. Over the following year I sold all three separately at local print fairs in and around Boston. I don't think I took pictures, but I will check to see. Or I might be able to find the invoices and track down the new owners and see if I can get pictures. I did think the prints were quite nice. tom [in Boston]

  2. I'm looking forward in great anticipation Tom. That would be nice !