Showing posts sorted by relevance for query siberian. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query siberian. Sort by date Show all posts

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Bohemian Printmakers in Siberian Captivity Part 1: Ferdinand Michl

Ferdinand Michl (1877-1951) was born in Prague, the son of a German businessman and a Czech mother.  He studied at the Prague Academy under Maximilian Pirner and, later, Franz Thiele.  One of his closest friends at the Academy was the Czech painter and printmaker Tavik Simon.  A scholarship from the German-Bohemian society allowed Michl to study for six months under Johann Herterich at the Munich Academy in 1900.  In 1904, he traveled with Tavik Simon to Paris, where the pair set up a studio together on the Left Bank.

Guignol in den Champs-Elysées (1908) by Ferdinand Michl
Courtesy of Henning Fine Art
(vernis mou with aquatint)

Michl probably had some rudimentary training in etching at the Prague Academy, but surely supplemented that with invaluable technical advice that he picked up through his friendship with Simon.  His Parisian prints of this time period show him producing soft ground etchings, drypoints, and aquatints.  He earned a living providing illustrations for humorous magazines like Le Rire while developing public recognition through exhibitions of his work in the Salon de la Societe Nationale des Beaux-Arts, the Salon d'Automne, the Salon des Humoristes, and the Galerie Georges Petit.  Michl’s favorite museum in Paris was the Musée Guimet because of its holdings of Chinese and Japanese paintings and woodblock prints.

Vienna Opera House (c. 1910?) by Ferdinand Michl
(colored etching)

In 1906, Michl became a member of the Hagenbund, where he had exhibited for the first time two years earlier.  In 1909, he left Paris and spent the next five years living in Vienna.  In addition to painting and etching, it is known that Michl began making black-and-white woodcuts at least as early as 1913.

Ex libris for Richard Teschner (1913) by Ferdinand Michl
(woodblock print)

During the First World War, Michl served as a lieutenant in the k.u.k. Bohemian Infantry Regiment but, after six weeks spent in the field, he was captured by the Russian army in Przemysl, Poland in 1915.  He spent the remainder of the war in a series of P.O.W. camps, first in Kharkov in the Ukraine, then in Katav-Ivanovsk and later Steritamak in the Urals, and finally at least two and a half years in Krasnoyarsk in Siberia.

K.u.k.-Infantry at the Eastern Front

In Krasnoyarsk, Michl taught woodblock carving and etching in the P.O.W. camp between September 1916 and 1917.  For a brief time in the spring and summer of 1918, Michl and the Hungarian artist Arthur Jakobovits were even allowed to move out of the camp and into private apartments in the city, where they taught a course on engraving at the municipal school of drawing.  The pair also organized a graphics exhibition in Krasnoyarsk in June 1918.  Otherwise, Michl had to content himself with lesser crafts, such as making labels for power boxes, designing lampshades, and crafting ornamental frames. Michl's P.O.W. camp prints are exceedingly rare and I've been able to locate an image of only one of them:

Krasnoyarsk (c. 1917) by Ferdinand Michl
  Courtesy of Lena Radauer
(woodblock print)

In 1919, the Krasnoyarsk P.O.W.s were eventually united with the Czech Legions, who were stranded in Siberia by the Bolshevik Government, and Michl was taken to Irkutsk.  In 1920, the repatriation of the Czech Legion began.  Beginning in March 1920, Michl spent two months in the port of Vladivostok, which had a large Japanese population in addition to Russians, Chinese, and Koreans.  Michl was so inspired by the melange of cultures there that he later referred to his time in Vladivostok as a “study visit.”  While in Vladivostok, he made a black and white woodblock print of a crab seller (later reprinted as a unnumbered and unsigned supplement to a 1924 issue of Die Graphischen Kunste).  Thereafter Michl sailed back to Europe, with a lengthy stopover in Singapore along the way.

Krabbenverkäufer (Crab Seller) (1920) by Ferdinand Michl
Personal Collection
(woodblock print)

After his return to Europe, Michl would continue to paint and make prints, including monotypes and colored woodblock prints.   

Japanese Women (c. 1920) by Ferdinand Michl
Courtesy of the National Gallery of Prague
(monotype)

Ein schöner Sommertag (A Beautiful Summer Day) (1922) by Ferdinand Michl
Published in Gesellschaft für vervielfältigende Kunst, Wien (1922)
Courtesy of Kunstantiquariat Rolf Brehmer
(colored woodblock print)

Koto-und Shamisenspielerin (Koto and Shamisen Players) (c. 1920s) by Ferdinand Michl
(colored etching)

In late 1923, Michl produced a portfolio (signed edition of 350) of six colored etchings illustrating poems by the Chinese poet, Li T’ai Po (700-762 A.D.) intended as tone poems set to Gustav Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde (The Song of the Earth). 

  
L: Plate 1 ("Das Trinklied vom Jammer der Erde");
R: Plate 2  ("Der Einsame im Herbst")
from Das Lied Von Der Erde by Ferdinand Michl
Courtesy of the Davidson Galleries
(colored etchings)

    
L: Plate 3 ("Von der Jugend");
R: Plate 4 ("Von der Schönheit")
from Das Lied Von Der Erde by Ferdinand Michl
Courtesy of the Davidson Galleries
(colored etchings)

 
L: Plate 5  ("Der Trunkene im Frühling");
R: Plate 6 ("Der Abschied")
from Das Lied Von Der Erde by Ferdinand Michl
Courtesy of the Davidson Galleries
(colored etchings)

In 1925 Michl issued another portfolio called Aus dem fernen Osten (From the Far East), published by Gesellschaft für vervielfältigende Kunst, Wien.  It consisting of six black and white woodblock prints that focused primarily on Vladivostok’s vibrant market life.  It was evidently issued in two editions, one being a deluxe edition with the prints pencil-signed by the artist.  These may have been commercial reissues of prints he had made in Vladivostok in 1920, or they may have been new prints based on sketches and recollections of his time spent there.  In 1928, Michl contributed two Siberian woodcuts for Der Plenny, a publication by a confederation of former Austrian P.O.W.s.  It is unclear to me at the present whether he created new woodcuts or simply reprinted some of his old designs.

Cover of the Aus dem fernen Osten portfolio (19254) by Ferdinand Michl
Personal Collection

 
Left: Strasse am Bazar in Wladiwostok (Street at a Bazaar in Vladivostok)
Right: Marktszene (Market Scene)
From the Aus dem fernen Osten portfolio (1925) by Ferdinand Michl
Personal Collection
(woodblock prints)

 
Left: Japanerinnen bei der Toilette (Japanese Women at the Washroom)
Right: Chineischer Stempleschneider (Chinese Stamp cutter)
From the Aus dem fernen Osten portfolio (1925) by Ferdinand Michl
Personal Collection
(woodblock prints)

 
Left: Japanerinnen beim Tee (Japanese Women at Tea)
Right: Chineische Marktträger am Hafen von Wladiwostok
(Chinese Marketers at the port of Vladivostok)
From the Aus dem fernen Osten portfolio (1925) by Ferdinand Michl
Personal Collection
(woodblock prints)

Michl evidently liked the Japanese Women at Tea design so much that he reworked it into a later etching:

Japanerinnen beim Tee (c. 1920s) by Ferdinand Michl
Personal Collection
(colored etching)

Michl participated in the German section of the Association Metznerbund, in the German section of the Moderní Galerie in Prague, and in a Sudeten art exhibition in Nuremberg in 1931.  In 1936, he produced two Japanese subject monotypes Japanese and Japanese im Bad (Japanese in the Bathroom).  But the Great Depression and the Second World War took its toll and left Michl so impoverished that by 1948 he was receiving charity gifts of cooking fuel and street shoes from the Austrian Association of Professional Artists.

Pavillon am See (Pavilion at the Lake) (1925) by Ferdinand Michl
Personal Collection
(colored etching)

For more information on Czech artists in Siberian prisoner of war camps, I recommend "So erfuhr ich es am eigenen Leibe, dass Kunst nicht nur trösten kann (...), sondern befreien" by Lena Radauer, a chapter in Nach Sibirien! Deutschböhmische bildende Künstler im Ersten Weltkrieg: an der Ostfrontvund in sibirischer GefangenschaftbKatalog zur gleichnamigen Ausstellung, Oblastní galerie Liberec  (ed. Anna Habánová 2015).

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Sunday, December 30, 2018

Show of Hans: The Etchings of Hans Luthmann

Hans Luthmann (1888-1945) was one of a number of early Twentieth Century etchers who sank into obscurity after World War II.  However, unlike the other etchers featured on this blog, he became an artist and an etcher only after spending time in the Far Easts.

Born in Hamburg, Germany in 1888, Luthmann went to Hong Kong and Shanghai in 1910 as a merchant for a German dyestuff factory.  In 1914, however, he was taken a prisoner of war after the siege of Tsingtau and sent to Japan, where he stayed in various prisoner-of-war camps until 1920, including the Matsuyama camp.  It was in one of those camps that Luthmann made his first studies in art.  (It is not known at this time whether he was familiar with any other artists in those camps, such as Fritz Rumpf.)

Entrance of the Dairin-jin in Matsuyama (c. 1916), 
used as a prisoner-of-war camp for Germans captured in Tsingtau

When Luthmann was released in 1920, he invited poor artists released from Siberian prisons who went on to Japan to stay in his house and learned from them.  He sought and found friends among Japanese artists who impressed him, and took in Japanese art exhibitions.  At this time, he sketched with charcoal, pen, and pencil, and painted only occasionally with oil or tempera.  In 1921, however, he found a book called "Modern Graphic Arts" by Prof. H.W. Singer in a Tokyo bookshop, and it and books by Joseph Pennell became his only teachers in etching.  Luthmann would say in 1924 that etching was “absolutely unknown here in Japan,” which is not entirely accurate.  Rather, he was probably unaware of the etched work of Japanese artists such as Ishii Hakutei, Tomimoto Kenkichi, Santomi Ton, and Kishida Ryusei, many of whom had studied with Bernard Leach in the teens.  But he was right that there was “no such thing as a printer of etchings to do the work for you.”

Mountain Temple (Shizuoka - Japan) (pre-August 1931)
aka "Berg Tempel, Shizuoka" or "Mountain Temple, Shizuoka"
Courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum
(etching)

Learning printing took Luthmann more than a year before getting satisfactory results.  He enlisted his wife Jennie to assist him in printing, who in time learned to do it as well as he did.  From his output, it is clear that Luthmann spent time in Tokyo, Kyoto, Kobe, Nara, Nakamoura, Hakone, Miyajima, Kamakura, and Enoshima, among other places in Japan.

 Pagoda, Shanghai (pre-August 1931)
Personal Collection
(etching)

At some point in the late 1920s, Luthmann and his wife went to live in China for a time.   From his etchings, it would appear that he visited Shanghai, Soochow, Peking, and the Chinese coast.   This was probably around 1929, as his first Chinese etching was exhibited at the Chicago Society of Etchers' show at the Art Institute of Chicago in January 1930.

 Damask Girdle Bridge (pre-August 1931) (colored etching)
aka "Kintai Gashi, Damask Girdle Brücke, Iwakuni"
(colored etching)

By 1930, if not earlier, the Luthmanns traveled on to Worpswede, an artist colony in lower Saxony, Germany.  Initially, they lived with the German painter and graphic artist Martin Paul Müller, "an artist who had not only long knowledge of the craft [of etching] but a large equipment."  In Germany, he also studied color printing, presumably with Müller.

Heinrich Vogeler Museum in Worpswede, 
Courtesy of Focke Strangmann, Worpsweder Museumsverbund

Worpswede evidently became the Luthmanns' home base, although it is known that they also spent time in Chiusa, Italy.  During the 1940s, Luthmann was a guest at the Hotel Gsoihof in Villnöss, at the foot of the Dolomites, where his paintings remain hung throughout that hotel to this day.

Hotel Gsoihof, Villnöss (c. 1930s)
Courtesy of the Hotel Gsoihof

Hotel Gsoihof, Villnöss (current day)
Courtesy of the Hotel Gsoihof

Bertha Jaques was clearly instrumental in getting Luthmann's work seen in the United States.  In addition to letting Luthmann participate in annual Chicago Society of Etchers shows from 1927 to 1931, Jaques arranged for the Division of Graphic Arts at the United States National Museum at the Smithsonian Building (today known as the National Museum of American History) to exhibit sixty-six of Luthmann's etchings from February 29 to March 27, 1932.  The Indianapolis Museum of Art previously held an earlier exhibition of Luthmann's etchings at the John Herron Art Institute from October 12 to November 2, 1930.

[Wayside Cross in the Dolomites] (c. 1935) by Hans Luthmann
(etching)

Although Luthmann had a few European landscapes in the 1932 National Museum show, thereafter he seems to have understandably concentrated exclusively on European subjects.  In April 1934, for example, he exhibited "Old Streets in Brixen" at the Chicago Society of Etchers show at the Albert Roullier Art Galleries.  In April 1938, he exhibited "Geisler in the Dolomites" at the Albert Roullier Art Galleries, the last new Luthmann etching for which I can find evidence of having been shown in the United States.  Whatever interest remained in Luthmann's etchings after the Great Depression had taken its toll was fated not to last.  The rise of militaristic nationalism in Japan in the late 1930s and the outbreak of war in Europe the following year would have completely extinguished his North American and British clients' appetite for Luthmann's prints.

Rosengarten, St. Cyprian (1938) by Hans Luthmann
(oil on canvas board)

As a consequence, Luthmann appears to have spent the rest of the thirties and early forties concentrating on landscape painting.  Although I have found no evidence that he fought for Germany during World War II, one wonders if he might have been pressed into service in the final months of the war, or if he might have been a late civilian casualty, since he died in 1945 at the relatively young ago of 57.

Luthmann does not appear to have dated most of his prints.  His early works, however, can be easily identified because they were printed with brown ink on cream paper, all featuring Japanese subjects.  It is possible, however, that some may have been later reprinted in black ink.  As noted above, his Chinese works date from around 1929, and his color prints started to appear around 1930.  The Asian prints for which I have found images are shown below in alphabetical order:

Am Kaiserl. Schloss, Tokyo [At the Imperial Castle, Tokyo]
(etching)

At The Russian Cathedral, Tokyo
(etching)

Behind Japanese Garden House Window (pre-August 1931)
Hinter'm japanischen Gartenhausfenster
(colored etching)

Buddhist Priest, Burning Autumn Leaves (pre-1931)
Courtesy of the Smart Museum of Art
(colored etching)

 
Camelback Bridge (Summer Palace - Lake, Peking)
Kamelsrückbrücke (Sommerpalast - See, Peking)
Courtesy of Darlene Owens
(etching)

 
Corner Tower of the Old Nijo-Castle, Kyoto
aka "Wachturm Kaiserschloss Kyoto [Watchtower, Imperial Castle, Kyoto]
Courtesy of Darlene Owens
(etching)

 
East Gate, Himeji Castle - Japan
aka "Osttor Schloss Himeji"
Courtesy of Darlene Owens
(etching)

Everything ***, in Spite of Everything, Everything Increases
aka "Alles Usevalteins? zum Trotz sich erh alles!"
Courtesy of Darlene Owens
(etching)

 
Fisherman's Hut (pre-August 1931)
aka "Fischerhütte, Awaji"
(etching)

 
Fujiyama
Courtesy of Darlene Owens
(etching)

Fujiyama from Hakone Lake (pre-August 1931)
aka "Fujiyama vom Hakone-See"
(etching)

Damask Girdle Bridge (pre-August 1931) (colored etching)
aka "Kintai Gashi, Damask Girdle Brücke, Iwakuni"
(colored etching)

Imperial Castle Tokyo
aka "Kaiserl Schloss Tokyo 1924"
Courtesy of Darlene Owens
(etching)

Kamakura Buddha (Nanu Amida Buttsu [sic:Butsu]) (pre-August 1931)
Courtesy of Darlene Owens
(etching)

Miao Feng T'a (Near the Jade Fountain Pagoda), Peking (pre-August 1931)
aka "Pagoda Near Jade Fountain, Peking"
Courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum
(etching)

Mill in Utsunomiya (Japan)
aka "Muhle im Utsunomiya (Japan)
Courtesy of Darlene Owens
(etching)

Morning Sun at Ino no Matsu Pagoda (pre-August 1931)
aka "Morning Sun at Pagoda (Ino-no-Matsu)"
(etching)

Mountain Temple (Shizuoka - Japan) (pre-August 1931)
aka "Berg Tempel, Shizuoka" or "Mountain Temple, Shizuoka"
Courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum
(etching)
 
Pagoda at the Lake (Nara) (pre-August 1931)
aka "Nara Pagoda"
(etching)

Pagoda, Shanghai (pre-August 1931)
Personal Collection
(etching)

Pines, Enoshima (pre-1927)
aka "Kiefer auf Enoshima" or "Enoshima Pines, Japan"
(aquatint)


Shinto Tempel (pre-August 1931)
aka "Shinto-Tempel (Horifu? Jinsha) Sannomiya, Japan"
(etching)

Street in Old Peking (pre-August 1931)
aka "Strasse im alter Peking"
(Courtesy of Darlene Owens)
(etching)

 Teahouse at the Arashiyama Bridge (pre-August 1931)
(aka Arashiyama Bridge, Kyoto)
(etching)

Temple of Heaven, Peking (pre-August 1931)
aka "Himmelstempel in Peking"
(etching)

Torii and Lanterns, Miyajima (pre-August 1931)
aka Wassertorii im Miyajima
(etching)

View of Hata-Men (Gate), Peking  (pre-August 1931)
aka "Stadttor im Pekin (Hata-men)
Courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum
(etching)

Watch Tower of Himeji Castle, Japan (pre-August 1931)
aka "Wachturm, Schloss Himeji -Japan" or "Himeji Castle"
Courtesy of Darlene Owens
(etching)

Winter in Japan aka "Winter" (pre-1929)
(colored aquatint)

 
 Young China (pre-August 1931)
aka "Jung-China"
Personal Collection
(drypoint)

Unknown
(etching)
 
Unknown
(etching)

 
Unknown
(etching)


Unknown (possibly "Japanese Inland Sea")
(etching)

The above prints, however, represent less than half of all of Hans Luthmann's Asian print output.  From the exhibition records of the 1932 National Museum show and other sources, we know the titles for a great many more design (although a few might be variant titles for prints illustrated above):

Bamboo, Bird and Spider (pre-August 1931) (colored etching)
Behind the Temple Wall (pre-August 1931) (colored etching)
Birds on Winter Feeding Table (possibly a European subject) (pre-August 1931) (colored etching)
Buddhist Monastery (pre-August 1931)
Camel Back Bridge, Peking (pre-August 1931)
Castle Moat, Kyoto (pre-August 1931)
Chinese Coast Landscape (pre-August 1931)
Chinese Fishing Village (pre-August 1931)
Chinese Junks (pre-August 1931)
Chinese Monastery Garden (pre-August 1931) (colored etching)
First Snow, Fujiyama (pre-August 1931)
Fujiyama, Peerless Mountain (pre-August 1931) (colored etching)
Hiroshige - Benten (pre-1929) (colored aquatint)
Japanese Inland Sea (pre-August 1931) (colored etching)
Japanese Jugglers (pre-August 1931)
Japanese Sanctuary (pre-August 1931) (colored etching)
Lake Biwa (pre-August 1931)
Lantern on Lotus Pond (pre-August 1931)
The Last Tooth (unknown subject) (pre-August 1931)
Lung Wha Pagoda, Shanghai (pre-August 1931) (colored etching)
Market at Bell Tower, Peking (pre-August 1931)
Meeting (Treetoad and Snail on Bamboo) (pre-August 1931) (colored etching)
Mountain Temple, Japan (possibly the same as Mountain Temple (Shizuoka, Japan)) (pre-1928)
Nijo Castle, Kyoto (pre-August 1931) (possibly the same as Corner Tower of the Old Nijo-Castle, Kyoto)
Pavilion, Peking Summer Palace (pre-August 1931)
Peace (pre-August 1931)
Pine Tree Alley (Road) (pre-August 1931)
Soochow Creek (pre-August 1931)
Struggle for Life - Tree (pre-August 1931) (colored etching)
Tea House, Shanghai (pre-August 1931)
Temple at Miyajima, Japan (pre-August 1931)
Temple Corner, Kobe (pre-August 1931)
Temple Gate (possibly the same as Temple Gate, Kamakura) (pre-1929)
Temple Gate, Kamakura (pre-August 1931)
Temple Hall, Japan (pre-1927)
Temple Lantern, Meiji Park (pre-August 1931)
Temple Wall, Japan (possibly the same as Temple Wall, Nakamoura) (pre-1931)
Temple Wall, Nakamoura (pre-August 1931)
Temple, Nakamoura (pre-August 1931)
Wintertime (possibly the same print as "Winter in Japan") (pre-August 1931) (aquatint)

If a reader has images of any of these Asian-themed etchings to share (or has images of any other Asian-themed etchings by Hans Luthmann which I have not as yet catalogued), please send them to me at the e-mail address listed at the upper right hand column of this blog.  I would like to thank Helena E. Wright, Curator of the Division of Culture and the Arts at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, for graciously sharing the Museum's exhibition records with me, including a 1924 letter by Luthmann that was the source of much of the information about his early career.

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