Rudolf Hünlich – Old Woman


A drawing (mixed media, probably ink and black and white pastels, ca. 29 x 22 cm. The original is a bit darker, on grey paper) showing an elderly woman. The caption reads “R. Huenlich d. 10/5 02”. (probably that is May 10th 1902). Rudolf Hünlich was born about 1880, being the youngest brother of the four children of the Hünlich family (his older brother was born in 1878), so the other reading of the date, as “82” is impossible (see So Hünlich, who died aged 24, was probably around 20 years old or in his early 20s when he made this drawing.

Hünlich was a xylographer, a graphics artist making wood engravings. This background shows in his approach to shading, as you can see if you look at the drawing close up. Besides dark color (black pastel or something similar) the shading effect is achieved with the density of lines, probably made with a pen.

The woman shown on the drawing is probably one of his aunts. There is a photograph showing members of the Hünlich family, with two men (one of them probably a brother of Rudolf Hünlich’s father) and three women. The women resemble each other, so they are probably sisters, and they all look more or less like the woman on this drawing, so probably the pictured woman is one of them. She was probably a sister in law of Rudolf Hünlich’s father, or one of her sisters. The name of one of these women was probably “Anette” (or some similar name), so that might be her name. Most members of the Hünlich family seem to have been weavers. It is possible that more genealogical research  into the Hünlich family (which would have to be conducted in Neusalza-Spremberg where they were living) is going to reveal more about this woman (and about the exact dates of Rudolf Hünlich’s life), but at this moment, that is all I know.


7 thoughts on “Rudolf Hünlich – Old Woman

    • Indeed, he was an old-school artist. Unfortunately, this is the only drawing of this kind we have from him. We have a sketchbook (from which I am going to post more) and one example of a print probably made from one of his wood-engravings. Some of the things in the sketch book look as if he was still learning, but this one is a ripe work of an accomplished artist. When I say “old school” I mean there is not a trace of modernity in his work. This could have been done several centuries earlier. In this sense, this drawing (and the rest of Hünlich’s surviving work) is quite old fashioned, but as such, within his style and genre, I find this drawing exquisit.

      • Yes, you are mentioning the same qualities that I felt and that make the drawing so appealing to me. I am interested in what was his training. (if you have mentioned it, I am sorry to ask again, just point me in the right direction.)

        • I only know he was a xylographer. That is a kind of wood cut technique for making illustrations, however, I think it is more like making engravings, but not on copper or steel but on wood. It was used for book illustrations advertising etc, but seems to have been displaced by other printing techniques. I guess he learned it as a craft from a master, instead of studying in an art academy. That might be the reason why there is no tracable influence of modern developments of his time, like impressionism. See

            • There seems to have been a “Lithogr. Anstalt v. L. Donath in Neusalza”, according to some offerings of prints on the web, a company also producing wood cuts. Neusalza-Spremberg is where the Hünlich family came from, so that might have been the place where Rudolf Hünlich learnt his craft. Another company was “Lith. Anst. v. L. Oeser i. Neusalza”. Most of the people in the Hünlich family (and in other related families) in that place had been weavers. With industrialization of the textile business, hand weaving must have been on its way out (one Hünlich actually started a textile factory) and people had to find other markets. The printing business seems to have been one such areas of business.

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