Friday, 31 October 2014

Dore Hoyer, 1949 woodcut, Holzschnitt by ?

Dore Hoyer

(Dresden 12th Dec. - 31th Dec. 1967 Berlin) 

German expressionist dancer. 

Reader Steven from in Sacramento, California USA asked me to help him with identifying the maker of this great 1949 German expressionist woodcut that he's found in a sale. My books and archive did not reveal the identity of this (probably) female printmaker. It's made very much in the style of those famous expressionist artists Emil Nolde, Erich Heckel, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Karl Schmidt-Rotluff. A great and potentially historically important find. Digging in I learned about her fascinating person and her amazing world and the people in it: what a beautiful woman, what a tragical life !    

Above: Portait of Dore Hoyer by photographer Lenka von Koerber (1888-1958) who also wrote a book commemorating Kathe Kollwitz in 1957. 

Dora Hoyer in a double exposure by Dresden photographer by Edmund Kesting (1892-1970). Over the years he made several iconic portraits of Dore Hoyer.  

Dore Hoyer began her dance and rhythmic training at Hellerau-Laxenburg School in Dresden in 1927. After passing the examination for dance teachers, she studied with Gret Palucca (Margaretha Paluka, 1902-1993) and in 1933 she presented her first solo concert. These dancers maybe considered the equivalent of Madonna in the roaring 20's; athletic, iconic and avant garde. 

Above: Gret Palucca by Franz Fiedler (1885-1956) one of my favorite photographers.  

She worked for a short time as a ballet mistress in Oldenburg, but returned to Dresden to become a member of Mary Wigman’s (1886-1973) dance group in 1935 after her lover Peter Cieslak had committed suicide: aged 21, what a waste ! 

Above: Mary Wigman by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1880-1938) this woodcut auction estimated 10.000-15.000$. 

Above dancer "Nelly" who really was Turkish Elli Secaidari (1899-1998) besides a great dancer in the Mary Wigman group later to become a famous photographer, who made fame with her nudes on the Acropolis in Athens.
Dore Hoyer took over the former Wigman School after World War II and formed her own dance group. The group gained notoriety, but Hoyer left to continue her solo work. 

In 1947 she and her dancers impersonated the graphic works of Käthe Kollwitz (1867-1945) on stage. (Portrait and woodcut selfportait above) 

Portait etching of Dora Hoyer by Lea Grundig-Langer (1906-1977) 

From 1949 to 1951 Dore Hoyer served as director of the Hamburg State Opera Ballet, but had greater success abroad. She presented a number of solo performances in South American and in 1957 made her debut with the American Dance Festival at Connecticut College. 

"Tanz" (dance) by Carl Rotky (1891-1977)

1966 marked her last dance performance. She had no school––no income, and committed suicide in 1967.  While Hoyer is less known than many modern dance artists, some historians believe her work emerged from a period of stagnating dance and set in motion innovations that underlay American modern and postmodern dance.

Finnish Sara Jankelow-Rung (1891-1974) another performer-dancer from the Mary Wigman group spectacularly photographed by Franz Fiedler in 1926. 

All artists mentioned in this article in one way or another belonging in the artistic circles around Dore Hoyer so there must be enough clues to link this fine  woodcut portrait to the unidentified printmaker. 

Send in your suggestions for sharing please !

"Tanz" 1913, by Emil Nolde (1867-1956)

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

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Barbara Popp: printmaker with Romanian ancestors ?

Barbara Popp
(Munich 1890 - last mentioned in 1933 Hamburg
German Painter and Printmaker 

Although Barbara Popp is mentioned a painter in Thieme-Becker's Lexicon I've never seen a single painting by this artist. She's on my "research" list(*): born before 1900 and active with printmaking. Nor could I find her "last mentioning" in 1933). Here's the result of my excavations.

Over the years regularly woodblock prints by Barbara Popp have turned up, almost all showing idyllic thatched dwellings. And there're two landscapes with birches, probably the Lüneburgerheide, South of Hamburg. You immediately recognize her personal style. And she's great with shadows, in every print she's playing with the trees and shadows on the white walls. 

They all seem to be printed on not the best paper. Lack of money perhaps or is it depression paper? Mine is and it is resembling the gray/brownish paper images from all the auction-house and Ebay samples I've seen.

Barbara was born in Münich in 1890 at he time her father Jon Popp (Hamburg 1862 - 1953 Hamburg) studied in the Vienna Fine Art Academy (1884-1891) under Hermann Kaulbach (1846-1909), Ludwig Herterich (1856-1932) and Karl Raupp (1937-1918) and later in Paris 1903. He was active in Bukarest and in Hamburg from 1919. Just once I found this reference of father and daughter.

Jon Popp specialized in animals (horses) and travelled to the Orient (Turkey) which can be seen in many of his paintings with fierce men riding horses and portraits of clan chiefs. His relationship with the Oriënt can possibly be explained by the following artists I've found: 


Ioan Popp Moldovan de Galati (1774-1869) was a Romanian painter and muralist. He and his wife Elena Ivan (1783-1867) had eight children. The last born was Misu Popp (Brasov 19-03-1827 - 06-03-1892 Brasov) who, encouraged by his father, studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna until 1848 developing a serious academic style and became a rather famous portrait painter.  

Self portrait and portraits of his father Ioan and mother Elena by Miso Popp
It could be possible Jon Popp and his printmaking daughter Barbara  descent from this artistic Romanian family. 

I also found Carol Popp (1812-1887) a Romanian painter and considered the worlds first War-photographer (Crimean war 1854-56) but I have no idea about his relationship to the above family) 

(*) My list of German women artists, born before 1900 and active with woodblock printmaking of which I am trying to compose the biographies now counting over 150 namens, regularly discovering new facts and sometimes new printmakers.

Sharing my findings and knowledge, every addition, new detail, new examples of prints and any help will be much appreciated.  

All pictures are mouse clickable to embiggen.

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

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Gretl Götz, a forgotten printmaker, and meeting her father.

Margarete (Gretl) Götz
(Winterthur  30-11-1869 - Zürich 28-09-1952)

Swiss portrait painter, illustrator and printmaker.
(although I could not find any portraits by her hand)

Like often before I just happened to stumble over this hardly known printmaker rummaging Ebay. Gretl is mostly remembered (or forgotten) because of her illustrations in two once popular nature books by Hugo Sieker (1903-1979), a Hamburg editor and writer known for this friendship with sculptor Ernst Barlach (1870-1938). And occasionally a signed hand-pulled print surfaces in German Ebay, very nice and delicate woodcut printmaking.

But the most interesting thing however was meeting with Gretl's father Hermann mentioned somewhere in a footnote. About the life of Gretl nothing much is to be found, other then that she's donated her fathers musical legacy to the Swiss State in the beginning of the twentieth century. 

Hermann Götz (Goetz) was born in 1840 in Königsberg Prussia as son of a salesman. He didn't receive his first serious piano lessons when he was 17 in 1857 but at the same also starting studying for a degree in mathematics which he gave up to go to Berlin studying in the prestigious Julius Stern Konservatorium. He followed piano lessons with piano virtuoso Hans von Bülow graduating two years later in 1862. 
Postcard woodcut by unknown printmaker
Winterthur Stadtkirche.
A year later, in 1863, Hermann Götz 23 years of age probably also because of his lung problems moved to Switserland where he was appointed city organist in Winterthur Stadtkirche a few years later marrying a local girl Laura Wirth in 1866, Gretl's mother. Laura had something to do with the arts because she is mentioned as teacher to Sophie Schäppi (1852-1921) a Winterthur artist who later studied and made a career in Paris. 

Hans von Bülow (1830-1894) was married to Cosima Liszt (1837-1930) the  daughter of his piano tutor Franz Liszt's (1811-1886). She had been left in the care of von Bülow's mother in Berlin by father Fransz who had a very troublesome relation with the mother of his three children Marie d'Agoult (1805-1876). 

Cosima, who was the mother of two children with von Bülow, later divorced him to marry her lover, composer Richard Wagner (1813-1883) who was 24 years older. They had another three children. She was the Godmother of both the Bülow and the Wagner dynasty. Not bad for a girl that wasn't famous for her good looks.    

Götz suffered from tuberculosis since he was 14, the desease eventually killing him. Like it did Chopin. In 1876 only 35 years old leaving behind his wife Laura and little Gretl. It was his tragedy to be born with so much talent, in the same year as Tsjaikowski, being sickly and overshadowed by contemporary colleagues that eventually were more popular and rose to greatest fame: Strauss, Wagner, Liszt, Brahms. And dying so young of course (*)

I'd read about Hermann's tragic and short life and extraordinary qualities as a composer in a book by Dutch writer, behavioral psychologist, organist, novellist and musical scholar Maarten 't Hart (b.1944) who confesses to have indulged in buying Goetzes extremely expensive biography. After reading he succeeded in finding and collecting all of the composers music and available scores. It's always nice meeting some one who's as nuts.......... 

But seriously: this hardly ever heard music is a revelation. Götz wrote some incredibly beautiful stuff, some say rivaling with Schubert and Brahms: piano 4 handed, a moving piano quintet, a symphony, a violin concerto and two piano concertos that I cannot believe aren't known world wide. If you like classic music as you do woodblock printmaking: there are several CD's, quality and enthousiast interpretations at very affordable prices available. Also check Youtube and here's(*) a link with some sampled fragments. Enjoy !

(*) Some other but more famous composers who didn't reach the age of 40: Mozart (35), Mendelsohn (38), Schubert (31), Chopin (39).

Read here(*) more about Hermann Goetz' biography and Musical legacy.   

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

Monday, 20 October 2014

Elsbeth Timmermann-Heuss , Elvira Castner and some other remarkable girls

Elsbeth Timmermann-Heuss
(Wunstorf near Hannover 1873 – Wunstorf 1948)
forgotten German painter and printmaker. 

Faithful reader Markus (who appeared in dear Charles' Blog recently) is pointing me regularly to hidden female German (early) printmakers in my ongoing research concerning German women printmakers born before 1900. His most recent hint was to this “Linolschnitt”, linocut print, surfacing in German Ebay.

It is titled “Plön:/ Hol. Mariënhöhe” and signed E. Timmermann-Heuss, monogramed in the block ETH. It has a lovely soft pallet and the technique of overlaying the different blocks using transparant paint creating multiple new and “in between” colors giving it an impressionistic atmosphere. Elsbeth certainly new what she was doing. Maybe she'd been in nearby Heikendorf (near Kiel), an artist colony in the early 20th century. 

Curious about the unknown printmaker what follows is what I was able to find on a rainy day. The name Mariënhöhe probably was only known to a very limited circle because the building and location, I've found, is the castle Prinzenhaus in Plön situated between Lübeck and Kiel in province Holstein north of Hamburg.
View on Castle Plön, woodcut possibly by Frido Witte (1881-1965)
The castle was refurbished in 1895 to accommodate the education of Emperor Wilhelm II's six sons. Holstein being the native province of their mother Empress Augusta-Viktoria. Wilhelm was Englands Queen Victoria's son. It was as such in use until 1910 when the boys were grown up and in 1914 it became a military hospital ("Lazarett") so between 1910 and 1914 it will have been in use as "Mariënhöhe" Garden School.  

In a 2013 newspaper article (link*) I learned Elsbeth was born in Wunstorf  10 miles west of Hannover and that Wilhelm Timmermann, a doctor, probably had been her brother. Which brings me to the curious habit of placing the (her) married/husbands name after her maiden-name. The article also stated she’d lived in the USA for some time but had returned to Wunstorf. A painting, mentioned in the article showing a location, the abby now library, in Wunstorf, and was created in 1938 probably after she'd returned ?

In a 1907 passengers list of SS Kronprinz Wilhelm” one of the great  Norddeutscher Lloyd ocean steamers, I found: Elsbeth Heuss (30) and Theodor Heinrich Heuss (41) travelling from Bremen to New-York and next to Baltimore. Could she be Elsbeth from Wunstorf ? On arriving the couple was recorded and registrated at New-York's Ellis Island’s immigrations office. Theodor Heinrich was born 05-01-1866 in Ebersbach near Heilbron which is not far away from the village of Brackenheim where a namesake was born: Germany’s first elected Federal President (“Bundespräsident”) in 1949: Theodor Heuss (1884-1963). Maybe there is a relationship: in both families Theodor and Louis (Ludwig) are common names.

Since 1910 the Prinzenhaus in Plön housed one of Germany’s Advanced Horticultural Colleges (Höhere Gartenbauschule) for (educated) Women (this one founded by Marie Schwertzel (*). These schools followed the initiative of Lady Warwick in Reading, Berkshire, England (1889) (read here for more about the Prince of Wales' mistress). In those days, women were not allowed to follow courses as academy students. Has Elsbeth been a student in Mariënhöhe? There's just the one reference to the name Mariënhöhe to be found in combination with the horticultural school in Plön. And that's in a footnote.


Dr.Elvira Castner 
(born Zempelburg 10-03-1844 - probably 1919)

Pioneer female dentist graduated 1878 in Baltimore (USA) practicing for 20 years in Berlin 
Founding mother of horticultural schools for girls in Northern Germany since 1894

Mariënhöhe school in Plön was founded by a student of a student(*) of founding mother Dr. Elvira Castner, a most remarkable woman. She was one of the first female German dentists (a colleague !), trained and educated in Baltimore USA because academic training and careers for girls were still impossible in Germany. She arrived in Baltimore in 1876 (31 years and unmarried) with SS Gellert (build one year before) owned by the Hamburg-America Line. 29 years later Elsbeth followed the same route in 1907 with the Kronprinz Wilhelm

After 20 years of practice in Berlin however already in her 50's she was more interested in training young women to produce horticultural pruducts in Germany to replace American import and creating decent professional education and careers for girls. (Read here* for more about this extraordinary woman and see below (**)

She followed in the footsteps of another great women-rights pioneer Hedwig Heyl-Crüsemann (Bremen 1850-1934 Berlin) who started the Horticultural School for Women initiative in Berlin in 1890. Heyl's father Eduard by the way was one of the owners of the Norddeutsche Lloyd (see above). 

Although Heyl undoubtedly started the idea and enterprise she supported Elvira Castner's spreading of the gospel of founding new schools led by newly educated professional women a few years later and soon after started a new greenhouse project. For women. As a free thinker and true follower of Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) she believed freedom from need not only applied to the foods she and her students produced but also to her initiative and life-work: truly a great an altruistic woman.    

All further information is welcomed and will be shared with readers of this Blog. 

A request for information to the Wunstorf regional newspaper with a request for help from local readers is already underway.

(*)   Marie Schwertzel (01-05-1871 Schönhagen) she founded the Mariënhöhe school in Plön and had been in 1907-09 a student of Marta Back, herself a student of Elvira Castner starting her own horticultural school in nearby Holtenau in 1900. I could not find any biographical facts concerning these two women.
(**) Felicitas Glade 2008: Jungfern im Grünen, Berufsausbildung für "höhere Töchter" in Gartenbauschülen fur Frauen. 
("Damsels in green", professional training for "higher daughters" in horticultural schools for women.