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Ottilie Roederstein | Portrait painter

Ottilie Wilhelmine Roederstein (22 April 1859 - 26 November 1937) was a German-Swiss painter.
She was the long-time companion of Elisabeth Winterhalter, one of the first female doctors in Germany.
Roederstein was born in Zürich, Switzerland.

She was the second daughter of a businessman who came from Germany to work as a representative for a Swiss textile company.
She was first attracted to painting when the now-forgotten Swiss painter Eduard Pfyffer (1836-1899) came to their home to do family portraits.
This interest grew with visits to local museums.
For a woman, training as a painter would have gone against contemporary social conventions.

Her mother was especially opposed to her wishes, but persistence eventually won over her father and, in 1876, she was allowed to study with Pfyffer, so she would be close to home.
Her talent for portrait painting soon became obvious and she quickly outgrew Pfyffer's studio.
Her opportunity came when her sister Johanna married a businessman from Berlin.

Johanna and her husband agreed to let her live with them there, and she found a place as a student in a special women's class given by Karl Gussow.
In 1882, she had her first exhibition with an art dealer in Zürich and it was well received.
That same year, she followed a friend to Paris, where she found a position in the studios of Carolus-Duran and Jean-Jacques Henner.
By 1887, she was able to support herself with sales and commissions and no longer had to depend on her parents.

She was a participant in the Salon and won a Silver Medal at the Exposition Universelle (1889).

She exhibited her work at the Woman's Building at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois.
After 1890, she moved to Frankfurt to be with her friend, Elisabeth Winterhalter; although she travelled widely (including a trip to Africa in 1913).
She never lost track of her Swiss roots, however, and became an Honorary Citizen of Zürich in 1902.

Five years later, she and Elisabeth settled in Hofheim am Taunus (a suburb of Frankfurt).
Amongst her models was Gwen John who was intrigued that Roederstein wore a shirt, jacket and a fob watch.

Roederstein's painting of her as "The Letter" was exhibited at the salon of the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts in 1908.

That same year Roederstein and her partner helped to create the Schillerschule, Frankfurt's first school for girls.
After the war she did a number of portraits of women widowed by the war.
She continued to exhibit regularly until 1931.

Roederstein died on 26 November 1937 in Hofheim am Taunus. | Source: © Wikipedia

Biography from: Städel Museum (Städelsches Kunstinstitut und Städtische Galerie), Frankfurt

Roederstein was born in Zurich in 1859 to German parents.
There she took her first painting lessons in 1876 - against her mother’s will.
In 1879, she joined her sister Johanna in Berlin and continued her training with the acclaimed portrait painter Carl Gussow.
Like many of her colleagues, she left for Paris in the autumn of 1882.
There she joined the ladies’ studio of Carolus Duran and Jean-Jacques Henner, both renowned portrait painters.

She also worked with the history painter Luc-Olivier Merson and studied nude painting in privately organised evening classes.
Roederstein frequented the same circle of friends as the now better-known artists Louise Breslau and Ida Gerhardi.

She celebrated early successes at the Paris Salon and was awarded silver medals at the World Exhibitions of 1889 and 1900.

In 1887, she returned to Zurich.
However, Roederstein continued to maintain her studio in the metropolis on the Seine, working and exhibiting there for several months a year.
In 1891, Roederstein settled in Frankfurt am Main with her partner, the gynaecologist and surgeon Elisabeth H. Winterhalter, who took over a practice in the newly founded hospital Vaterländischer Frauenverein.

She was active in the Frankfurt women’s movement for better educational opportunities for girls and young women.
Roederstein quickly gained a large circle of clients in Frankfurt and set up a studio at the Städel art school in 1892.
There she gave painting lessons to young women artists.
She maintained close contacts with Karl von Pidoll and Hans Thoma, her colleagues at the Städel School.
Then, in 1902, her application for Swiss citizenship was granted. Nevertheless, Frankfurt remained the centre of her life.

She became a member of the Frankfurt-Cronberg Artists’ Association, to which Jakob Nussbaum and Wilhelm Trübner also belonged.
Until its dissolution in 1909/10, Roederstein exhibited several times with the association.
In 1909, Roederstein and Winterhalter moved to Hofheim am Taunus and, shortly afterwards, she gave up her studio at the Städelschule.
At the international art exhibition of the Sonderbund in Cologne in 1912, she represented Switzerland - as the only female artist alongside her male colleagues such as Giovanni Giacometti, Ferdinand Hodler and Cuno Amiet.

In 1913, the Frauenkunstverband (Women’s Art Association) was founded in Frankfurt, of which Roederstein became a member of the main board.
It campaigned for female artists to be trained on equal terms with their male colleagues and for women to be admitted to art academies.
During the First World War, the artist increasingly withdrew into the privacy of her Hofheim estate.
She had to give up her Paris studio, as it had become impossible for her to leave for France.

Exhibition opportunities also dwindled.
As early as 1920, Roederstein bequeathed her own important collection of French paintings to the Kunsthaus Zürich.
In 1929, on the occasion of her 70th birthday, a large anniversary exhibition was held at the Frankfurter Kunstverein, and Hofheim declared both her and her partner an honorary citizen on this occasion.

The Nazi takeover in 1933 as well as the increasing disenfranchisement and persecution of her Jewish friends and colleagues shake the artist deeply.
As a result of the Gleichschaltung (co-ordination) of art and society, she is also subject to state control and has to come to terms with the new system in order to be able to continue working as an artist.
On November 26th, 1937, Ottilie W. Roederstein dies of a heart condition in Hofheim am Taunus. | Source: © Städel Museum

Ottilie Wilhelmine Roederstein (1859-1937) è stata una pittrice Svizzero-Tedesca.
È stata la compagna della ginecologa tedesca Elisabeth Winterhalter.
È stata compagna di lunga data della Elisabeth Winterhalter, una delle prime dottoresse in Germania.

Roederstein è nata in Svizzera ed era la seconda figlia di un uomo d'affari tedesco che si era trasferito per lavorare come rappresentante di un'azienda tessile svizzera.
Fu attratta per la prima volta dalla pittura quando l'ormai dimenticato pittore svizzero Eduard Pfyffer (1836-1899) venne a casa sua per dipingere ritratti di famiglia e questo interesse è cresciuto grazie alle visite ai musei locali.
Per una donna, la formazione come pittrice sarebbe stata contraria alle convenzioni sociali dell'epoca.
La madre era chiaramente contraria ai suoi desideri, ma la perseveranza portò alla fine il padre a sostenerla e, nel 1876, poté studiare con Pfyffer, in modo da essere vicina a casa.

Il suo talento per la ritrattistica divenne presto evidente e superò rapidamente gli altri pittori nello studio di Pfyffer e la sua opportunità si presentò quando la sorella Johanna sposò un uomo d'affari berlinese.
Johanna e suo marito accettarono di farla vivere con loro e lei trovò posto come studentessa in una classe speciale per donne tenuta da Karl Gussow.
Nel 1882, la sua prima mostra con un mercante d'arte a Zurigo fu ben accolta.

Nello stesso anno seguì un'amica a Parigi, dove trovò lavoro presso gli studi di Carolus-Duran e Jean-Jacques Henner.
Nel 1887 era in grado di mantenersi da sola grazie a vendite e commissioni e non doveva più dipendere dai genitori.

Partecipò al Salon di Parigi e vinse la medaglia d'argento all'Exposition Universelle (1889).
Espose le sue opere nel Woman's Building della World's Columbian Exposition del 1893 a Chicago, Illinois.

Dopo il 1890 si trasfeì a Francoforte per stare con la sua compagna, Elisabeth Winterhalter, anche se viaggiò molto (compreso un viaggio in Africa nel 1913).
Tuttavia, non perse mai di vista le sue radici svizzere e nel 1902 divenne cittadina onoraria di Zurigo.

Cinque anni dopo, lei ed Elisabetta si stabilirono a Hofheim am Taunus (un sobborgo di Francoforte).
Tra le sue modelle c'era Gwen John, incuriosita dal fatto che Roederstein indossasse camicia, giacca ed orologio da taschino.

Il dipinto di Roederstein che la ritrae come "La lettera" fu esposto al salone della Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts nel 1908.
Nello stesso anno, Roederstein e la sua partner contribuirono a fondare la Schillerschule, la prima scuola femminile di Francoforte.

Dopo la guerra, realizzò diversi ritratti di donne rimaste vedove a causa della guerra. Continuò a esporre regolarmente fino al 1931.
Morì il 26 novembre del 1937. | Fonte: © Wikipedia