With monogram GR but with margins cut the signature disappeared. Underlining the importance of managing an archive and research into every print selected and embraced in the collection it was attributed to Gerda Rotermund. When a second, signed, copy shows up proving the attribution wrong I shall be the first to acknowledge.
Born a Rosenthal she was permitted to add her mothers family name to it. She had been student of both Käthe Kollwitz and Emil Orlik. So obscured an artist her tombstone was removed although she was buried in the same field as Marlene Dietrich.
Although the print suffered (no doubt by unprofessionally removing frame and matt) it was restored to be presentable again in the conservation department. Researching her biography it was discovered she created the illustrations for a magazine showing a bird-eye view of one of the Nazis megalomane projects with euphemist name KdF Prora on Rügen: “Kraft durch Frieden”. Also known as the Colossus of Prora. Impossible to even demolish and remove it stands to this day and, and is a “must see in awe” tourist attraction
Although Else von Schmiedeberg-Blume must be considered one of the finest, most important and influential of the German women woodblock printmakers her life was never properly researched.
What Claude Monet was to impressionist landscape painting, Else Schmiedeberg was to impressionist (flower) woodblock printmaking. Her approach in using the blocks to create her exquisite, intricate and outstanding impressionist flower bouquets were exemplary and “hors competion”.
Just a few, over-and-over repeated, copy-pasted and never updated lines, borrowed from Thieme-Becker artist lexicon, are usually used to describe her biography when works are offered in auctions. A common fate shared with most women artist-printmakers assembled in this lexicon. Since I regard Else Schmiedeberg as my personal, and No.1 printmaking muse I have invested a considerable amount of time trying to know her better. I am very content and lucky to have collected, a very fine (perhaps the finest) representation of her printed works on paper. I even have a very personal oil painting by her and a watercolour paining. Her short biography is my tribute to this great artist. Further research however is required. In May 2021 I was able to find and acquire maybe her finest achievement on paper:: “Jolanthe”, a standing nude woman figure. As my collecting friend Wolfgang so rightfully remarked: it is a symphony in colour as a perfect watercolour painting: “Wansinn”: meaning, “hard to believe, so incredibly good.
In all publications and mentioning, to this very day, the information from Thieme-Becker artist lexicon states the year and place of death “in” or sometimes “last mentioned in 1927”. It has become “for granted” and accepted as “common knowledge”, repeated like parrots by auctioneers, galleries and experts in sales and commentaries all over the world. It seems this is also all the serious (…) collectors need or want to know. Even the last mentioning, living in Leipzig in Dresslers Kunsthandbuch in 1930 was obviously “overlooked” and has never lead to any correction.
In 2015 however an oil painting (flower bouquet in vase) was auctioned: signed and dated clearly 1942. After my initial and un-academic research we now know she would live for another 22 years reaching 88 years. When she was laid to rest, I was 10 years of age.
With colleagues Marianne von Buddenbrock and Meta Cohn-Hendel Else Schmiedeberg represent the absolute top of what can be achieved with the medium of “Farbhoilzschnitt” and botanical flower prints. All three are represented in this collection with many of the finest examples of their art.
Schmiedeberg-Blume, Martha Else (Worbis near Göttingen 10-04-1876 – 09-11-1964 Hohenschäftlarn (near Starnberg, south of Munich).
Painter, teacher at the VdBK “Zeichenschule”, school syllabus author and woodblock printmaker. Daughter of Leipzig “Reichsgerichtsrat” Karl Eduard Blume (Halberstadt 1847 - 1909 Leipzig) and Eugenie Loether ( probably Worbis around 1850 - 1932/33 Leipzig). She had two younger sisters both also born in Worbis: Frieda (b. 1877) and Margarethe (b. 1880) and a brother Fritz (Friedrich) (b. around 1890 - died 1906).
Her father, an attorney at law or lawyer had a long career as government official and went through the ranks until his last mentioned position as “Reichsgerichtsrat” (High-Court judge) in Leipzig in 1899. I assume with each promotion a new position and domicile followed, explaining his function as “1.Statsanwalt” (State prosecutor) in Cöslin at his daughters wedding in 1896.
She married the week after her 20th birthday in Cöslin Prussia, 21-04 1896, attorney, “Stargard Gerichts-assessor” and (later promoted, in Berlin) “Landsgerichtsrat” Kuno Eugen Leopold Waldemar von Schmiedeberg (Drengfurth-Rastenburg in Prussia 16-02-1862 - 1926 Berlin), son of Königsberg “Hauptmann a. D. (außer Dienst)” und “Generalagenten” W(ilhelm) von Schmiedeberg (b. around 1825 – 1896/1910) and Antonie Perow (d. before 1896).
The marriage ended in divorce in Berlin in October 1909 (according to the notes added in the margin of the official marriage documents in Cöslin). In 1908 he worked (temporarily) as “Wirtschafts-dolmetscher” economist-interpreter in Breslau.
Waldemar von Schmiedeberg remarried Berlin 1910 Julie Henriette Ernestine Müller (Berlin 18-07-1867 – after 1940). She was the daughter of Eutin “Postdirektor” Julius Müller (“verstorben” = deceased before 1910) and Johanna Matthies.
Else used, and would all her long life be known by her married name: Else (v.) Schmiedeberg although she was married for 10 years. Although her young age at marriage and her husband being 14 years older may be suspicious of an “arranged” marriage: no children are known from their relationship.
In the Wikipedia entry of Viktor von Schmiedeberg (1889-1969) a high ranking Berlin city official it is claimed he was a son of Waldemar von Schmiedeberg, This is factually wrong. Viktor was his brothers son, so actually his nephew.
She studied at Leipzig “Akademie für Buchgewerbe” 1907-1910 and in Munich 1910-13 in the private “Malschule” of Heinrich Knirr (1862-1945): 1910-13), then she travelled to Paris to study under Paris painter Lucien Simon (1861-1945) probably in the “Académie Colarossi” where, it is known, Lucien Simon (also) taught.
- In 1916 it was mentioned she had stayed for “a longer period” in/near Lake Garda (“Garda-see”) in Italy.
- She is mentioned in the guest-list of artist Hotel Spaander in Volendam in the Netherlands, but sadly without mentioning of a year. In the guest list we find hundreds of international artist painters. Among them several printmakers mentioned in this collection: Else Berg, Martha Cunz, Emil Orlik, Hugo Noske, Emil Pottner, William Unger, Whistler, Ferdinand Schmutzer, Max Pollack etc….
- She is known from an “Alpine” print suggesting she also visited Switzerland (possibly also Martha Cunz in Sankt Gallen).
- In the 1930’s she travels to Palma (Mallorca) sailing with SS Ussukuma (German East Africa Line) and to her sisters family in America on board the SS Hamburg (Hamburg-America line).
Read and learn all about the life, family and career of my No.I printmaking artist and Muse: Else von Schmiedseberg-Blume in Vol. 1.