Home > Unknown Artists > Luise Duttenhofer–Cut Paper Artist

Luise Duttenhofer–Cut Paper Artist

Christiane Luise (Louise) Duttenhofer (1776–1829) was an important German silhouette artist of the Beidermeier period (1815–1848). Her cut paper illustrations show classical and romantic influences. Though she was quickly forgotten after her death, her work was rediscovered early in the 20th century.

The daughter of an evangelical deacon, Louise was born in Waiblingen; her father died when she was three, and she was raised by her mother and grandmother.

In childhood, Louise drew portraits and caricatures and began experimenting with scissors and paper, producing Gothic ornaments. As an adolescent, at the suggestion of her great-uncle, a professor of morals at the Stuttgart Gymnasium, she took drawing lessons, soon surpassed her teacher—but this led to no professional degree, since women were limited to learning “typical female” skills. Despite these restrictions, Louise managed to learn French.

During this period, it was virtually impossible for a woman to become a visual artist; in 1804, Louise married the engraver Christian (Friedrich Traugott) Duttenhofer, two years her junior. The couple honeymooned in Rome, where Louise absorbed many artistic influences that would later appear in her work. Between 1805 and 1818, the couple had seven children, four of whom died in infancy.

File:Antiquariatsmesse Stuttgart, Logo.jpg

Gertrud Fiege has aptly characterized the couple’s relationship: “Christian reproduced the engravings of others—before photography and modern printing, important and necessary work. His wife, imaginative, original, and creative, was drawn to innovation. Evidently, she was moody and could draw blood with her pointed humor. She suffered from depression and retired at different times into herself, but would emerge affectionate and communicative. In mock resignation, Christian referred to his wife as “family friend” in their correspondence, but this likely reflected positive feelings.”

(RT’s translation and summary, with much help from the Wikipedia translation app, of the German Luise Duttenhofer Wikipedia article.)

RT knew nothing of Louise Duttenhofer until stumbling across her cut-paper work in WikiCommons this evening. She clearly was an artist of the first order, anticipating the strong graphic style of the later 19th and early 20th centuries, but has not received (at least in America) the recognition she deserves. Another minor artist with major talent.

Images: top: Goose Boy; middle: Reconciliation; bottom: Antiquarian Fair. All images: Luise Duttenhofer, WikiCmns, Public Domain.


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