Sunday, 4 March 2018

Clara Telge (part I): visiting "das Alte Land".

Clara Telge 
German painter and illustrator. 
(Shanghai 19-03-1870 - 25-02-1947 Hamburg)  

Here follows what I came to know about the artist Clara Telge and I invite readers and passers-by to send all they know about this forgotten artist and her family. To my knowledge she not known as a printmaker.  

Less then a handful of paintings by her hand can be found in the Internet. I stumbled over Clara Tele because she came to paint in "das Alte Land" while researching another artist printmaker, Anna Bähker who, I discovered a few weeks ago,  also visited this picturesque region just West of Hamburg. 

What I do know is Clara was born in 1870 in Shanghai where her father Carl Bernard Hermann Telge had started an important trading house (import/export) on “the Bund”, the strip of land in Shanghai along Huangpu River. 

Bernard Telge came to Shanghai the moment it was allowed to foreign companies to settle and open business in China following the opening of the Chinese market after the 1842 Treaty of Nangking and when England finally ended  the Chinese Opium wars: in the early 1860’s steaming from Hamburg or Bremen.

Shanghai: The Bund 
Telge’s trading company was involved in the construction of China's infrastructure: steel bridges and railways and the selling of torpedos to China’s imperial navy as well as importing Prussian railway steam-engines and was also active in China’s (coal) mining, owning mines and recruiting German mining engineers. 

Paul Kayser: Teacher in and view from "Malschule Valeska Röver" in Hamburg.

Students in Valeska Rövers painting school. 
Going by the names of Clara’s no doubt private painting teachers her fathers business must have been as successful as she was talented: returned from China she studied in Hamburg at Valeska Rövers paintings school (above) while in Berlin she became a master student of Max Liebermann and Lovis Corinth and was allowed to study in Paris with Lucien Simon.

Please send all you may know about this Telge family. In Berlin at the time was active a Carl Franz Paul Telge a famous jeweller/goldsmith and jewellery designer admitted to the Rumanian court of King Carol-I and Queen Elisabeth. During his reign (1866-1881) King Carol encouraged and “imported” many artists and craftsmen from Germany/Prussia (many from Hamburg) to his Kingdom. More about this you can read in the book. Paul Telge's father was Julius Telge (1814-1887), also goldsmith in Berlin since the 1840's but originating from a Braunschweig mr. shoemaker. (A jeweler Bernard Telge is also mentioned in a Berlin chronicle but probably a mistake with Paul. This could be a clue to a family connection).  

I met Clara Telge visiting and painting around 1910. Like so many of her artistic sisters, not much about her life and career is delivered to us in the textbooks or artist lexicons. She was there to paint while staying, for many years as a guest in the house of Pastor (referent) August Meyer in Borstel a rural community in a picturesque district close to Hamburg. 

Clara is not known as a printmaker but she is known by an illustrated with watercolours booklet she created privately and exclusively for the children of the Meyer family. The once private booklet with these great illustrations was published in 2004 in a limited edition: "Ein Altenländer Bilderbuch" für große und kleine Pastorenkinder".   

I further learned the Meyer residence in the village of Borstel also received other Liebermann students: Alma del  Banco and her friend Gretchen Wohlwil but also Clara’s sister (?)  and nephews and nieces (?) from Berlin (as a biographer would I love to know their names....).

Clara Telge: Helgoland 

One of the very few paintings by Clara I was able to trace: View on Helgoland, a strategic rocky North Sea island and Ice age remnant just north of Bremen. Helene Mass was here obviously (above) and one of my favorite German impressionist painters Leonhard Sandrock (below)

Das Alte Land”, today Germanys largest fruit producing district consisting of former marshlands claimed from the sea by 12th century Dutch settlers was also the favourite subject of painter and printmaker (and Emil Orlik student)  Hans Förster (1885-1966) a native from Hamburg and awarded an exhibition in Hamburg Altona Museum that was extended until spring 2018.

More details about Clara Telge are mentioned in her short biography, one of the hundreds I’ve collected in my book that will finally be published later this month in a private and limited edition as a Liber Amicorum (book for friends) containing over 300 pages of short biographies of German, Scandinavian, Russian, Baltic and Dutch women printmakers active 1900-1935. 

Pictures embiggen by mouse-click

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

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