Rudolf Hünlich – Old Woman

Huenlich_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 https://www.geni.com/family-tree/index/6000000061830588852). 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.

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Playing the Piano III

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Two sketches from one of Rolf Keller’s sketch book, showing two undidentified pianists. I don’t know if this sketch originated during a concert (perhaps a musical competition, since the sketches seem to show two different people) or during a more private setting. It might have been on a trip to the Sovjet Union as well. Unfortunately, these sketches are not dated and I don’t know when and where they where made. I wonder if it might be possible to identify these pianists. Doing so would yield a clue to when and perhaps these sketches where made.

Mathilde Pajeken – Small Sketch Book 1

kleines Skizzenbuch 1

The painter Mathilde Pajeken, a great-grandaunt of me, left a sketch book to us. The book is quite small, about 8.2 by 11.8 centimeters. It contains sketches (in most cases pencil) that where probably made during a trip to northern Germany. A few of these sketches are dated with a day and month, but unfortunately, there is no year given. The first sketches show several ladies and by the dresses and outfits, I would suspect the sketches where made in the 1890s or shortly thereafter. Many of the sketches show sailing boats (most of them probably fishing vessels) or other boats and ships and some coastal landscapes. In some cases the place is indicated, for example “Helgoland” which is an island in the North Sea. As far as we know, Mathilde Pajeken, originally from Bremen in northern Germany, was living in Munich, which is in the south. It is possible that all of these sketches were made during a single trip to northern Germany. We don’t know whether the sketches of ladies on the first pages of the sketch book where made during the same trip or before. These might be people she knew in Munich, but just as well they might be people she met on the train.

On the inside of the book’s cover, there are some notes that seem to be names, but we do not know if they belong to these ladies or are totally unrelated notes.

The first sketch in the book can be seen here. This type of dress, with puffed sleeves, seems to be typical for the 1890s. This is the main evidence that the sketches date to that time.

Playing the Piano II – Kiyoko Tanaka

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20 years ago, on February 26th, Japanese pianist Tanaka Kiyoko (田中希代子) died. Born on February 5th, 1932 in a family of musicians, she had stopped playing the piano in the early 1970s due to a chronic disease, so her initially promissing career had been cut short, although she still gave lessons afterwards. You can find a few recordings of her on the internet, e.g. here:

In 1963, she toured Europe and also gave one concert in Chemnitz (then known as “Karl-Marx-Stadt”). Rolf Keller, attending the concert, sketched her on the concert program. The sketch is dated to Dec. 3rd, 1963. Behind the date, you can see Rolf Keller’s “24”-logo.

Rolf Keller wrote on the programme (to my parrents) “In case Tanaka comes to Hamburg, don’t miss her, A pleasure!” (Sollte die Tanaka nach Hbg. kommen, versäumt sie nicht. Ein Genuß!”).

According to a newspaper clipping added to a letter Rolf Keller sent to my parents, the concert seems to have been scheduled for December 4th, 1963, but Rolf Keller corrected the date on the clipping to December 3rd, the same date that can be found on the sketch, so that is probably the day the concert actually took place. According to one newspaper article I have found here: https://www.nd-archiv.de/artikel/1425488..html, Tanaka played in Dresden on December 10th, in an “Hour of Music” (“Stunde der Musik”), the same title that can be seen on the the program. It looks like there was a regular classical music event by this name that took place in several cities of the GDR.

As can be seen from the program, Tanaka performed pieces of Händel, Haydn, Schumann, Chopin and Hisatada Odaka (1911 – 1951). I could not find a recording of the particular piece of Odaka she played here (“Toccata”) but here is an example of piano music from this composer, played by another Japanese pianist, Kazuko Yasukawa.

Here are the pages of the program, with the sketch:

The black printing ink of the title page has acted like carbon copy paper, creating a faint imprint of the sketch on the page that was opposite. May we take this as a symbol of Tanaka’s tragic life?

Playing the Piano I

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Among Rolf Keller’s sketches, there are several ones showing piano players, so today’s article is just the first in a small series. This sketch is undated, the “24”-Logo identifies the artist as Rolf Keller. The piano is only hinted at by a single line showing one edge of the instrument. The caption reads “Natalia Karra, London spielt ChOPIN” (Natalia Karra, London, plays ChOPIN). I am not sure about the name, but as far as I am familiar with Rolf Keller’s handwriting, it should be “Karra”. I have not found any information about a pianist of this name, however. I don’t know when this sketch was drawn, maybe in the 1940s, when good paper was hard to get, but I am not sure.

A moment of concentration, captured in a few lines.

Start of School Greeting Card

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A postcard designed by Rolf Keller for Lederbogen Verlag. The text says: Best wishes for the beginning of school. This image does not show the whole postcard; I have cut off the margin (about one cm) around the picture since it had been written on.

I cannot date this card exactly. It does not show the printing license code typical of GDR printed media. The System of printing licenses had been introduce in 1951 (see https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Druckgenehmigungsverfahren), so this card should be latest from 1951. A letter by Rolf Keller dated February 23rd 1959 tells us that he started working for Lederbogen in 1945  “… Lederbogen is opening their trade fair stand fort he last time. In March the have to dissolve the company, an old customer (since 45) goes down the drain that way, who brought me 6000 per year on average. Friday morning I am driving to the fair to design the Lederbogen stand.” (“… Lederbogen hält zum letztenmal seinen Messestand offen. Im März muß die Firma liquidieren, ein alter Kunde (seit 45) geht damit flöten, der durchschnittlich 6000 im Jahr einbrachte. Freitag früh fahre ich zur Messe, um den Lederbogen-Stand zu gestalten. ”) I do not know what was the reason for the liquidation oft hat company, it might have been for political reasons since many private companies in the GDR where transformed into state owned ones or integrated into larger state owned companies.

So the earliest date for the card would be 1945. However, the quality of the paper and printing is quite good and there was probably no demand for such cards directly after the war, so I think it is very unlikely that this card is from the immediate post war time. I would therefore date it to around 1950

The motive of the card, however, is older. It shows Rolf Keller’s son, Svend Keller (born in 1928), as a young boy (around 1935) in the Kellerfamily’s apartment in Chemnitz, so probably Rolf Keller used a sketch or photograph from the 1930s as a basis for this card.

Rudi Gruner

Rudi Gruner

In a previous post I had already posted two drawings Svend Keller made of the painter and artist Rudi Gruner, another member of the Chemnitz circle of artists to which my father, Svend Keller and his father Rolf Keller also belonged. Here is another sketch showing him (black chalk on A4-size paper), made by Svend Keller on 24th of February (or March?) 1949.

Gruner (1909 – 1984) was a painter, graphic artist and book illustrator. He belonged to the “lost generation” (in German: “verschollene Generation”) of artists born around 1900 who are less well known because the Nazi time and World War II interfered with their artistic careers and the reception of their works. Some links to more information on him can be found in my previous article (see link above).

Here are two paintings of Gruner which now belong to my sister Christine. I hope I will be able to get some better photographs of them, but this is what I have at the moment. The first one, a watercolor, was a wedding present Rudi Gruner gave to my parents. It is showing the “Schlossteich”, a pond in a park in Chemnitz:

 Park Rudi Gruner (1)

This picture was hanging in our living room when I was small, so it is something I have been growing up with.

The second is a painting showing two women playing flutes:

Rudi Gruner Floetenspielerinnen

I think this painting was in the possession of Rolf Keller.