Anna Elizabeth Klumpke

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Anna Elizabeth Klumpke
Anna Elizabeth Klumpke.jpg
Anna Klumpke in her studio.
Born (1856-10-28)October 28, 1856
San Francisco, California
Died February 9, 1942(1942-02-09) (aged 85)
San Francisco, California
Nationality American
Field Genre works, Painting

Anna Elizabeth Klumpke (October 28, 1856 – February 9, 1942), was an American portrait and genre painter born in San Francisco, California, United States. She is perhaps best known for her portraits of famous women including Rosa Bonheur and Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1889).[1]

Life and career[edit]

Anna's father, John Gerald Klumpke, born in England[2] or Germany,[3] was a successful and wealthy realtor in San Francisco. Her mother was Dorothea Mattilda Tolle. Anna was the eldest of eight children, five of whom lived to maturity. Among her siblings were the astronomer Dorothea Klumpke-Roberts, the violinist Julia Klumpke, and the neurologist Augusta Déjerine-Klumpke.

At age three, Anna fell and suffered a fracture of her femur. She fell again at age five and suffered osteomyelitis with purulent knee arthritis. These problems handicapped her, and her mother went to extraordinary lengths to find a remedy by taking Anna and three of her siblings to Berlin for treatment by Dr. Bernhard von Langenbeck.

The treatment lasted 18 months and included thermal baths at Kreuznach. Unfortunately, it was not successful, and Anna remained hobbled all her life. While they were in Europe, her mother ensured that her children received excellent tutoring.

The time away in Europe strained the Klumpkes' relationship. When Anna was fifteen, her parents divorced. She and her siblings (now numbering five) moved with their mother to Göttingen, Germany, where they lived for a time with Mattilda's sister, who had married a German national. Anna and her sister Augusta were sent to school at Cannstatt, near Stuttgart. When she was seventeen, the family moved to Clarens, near Lake Geneva in Switzerland where she spent two years in a boarding school.

Anna studied art at home for the next few years, and in October 1877, moved with her family once more to Paris, where she was later enrolled in the Julian Academy (1883–1884), under the tutelage of Tony Robert-Fleury and Jules Lefebvre. At one point, she also studied under Vuillefroy. She presented her first work at the Paris Salon in 1884, while still at the Academy, and she won the grand prize for outstanding student of the year. She exhibited regularly at the Salon for several more years. After completing her studies, she returned to the United States for a few years and taught in Boston. However, by 1889, she was back in Paris.

As a girl, Anna had been given a "Rosa" doll, styled after the French animal painter Rosa Bonheur—so famous at the time that dolls were made in her image. From early childhood, Anna had been fascinated and inspired by the woman artist.[4] Intent on painting Bonheur's portrait, she met Rosa Bonheur on October 15, 1889, under the pretext of being the interpreter for a horse dealer. The two women were soon living together at Bonheur's estate in Thomery, near Fontainebleau, and their relationship endured until Bonheur's death in 1899.

Klumpke was named as the sole heir to Bonheur's estate and oversaw the sale of Bonheur's collected works in 1900. She founded the Rosa Bonheur Prize at the Société des Artistes Français and organized the Rosa Bonheur museum at the Fontainebleau palace.

Klumpke was a meticulous diarist, publishing in 1908 a biography of Bonheur, Sa Vie Son Oeuvre, based on her own diary and Bonheur's letters, sketches and other writings. In the book, which was not published in English until 1998, Klumpke told the story of Bonheur's life and related how she had met Bonheur, how they had fallen in love, and how she had become the artist's official portraitist and companion.

Following Bonheur's death, Klumpke divided her time between France, Boston, and San Francisco, finally settling in San Francisco in the 1930s. During World War I, with her mother, she established a military convalescent hospital at her home in Thomery.

In 1940, at the age of 84, Klumpke published her own autobiography Memoirs of an Artist. She died in 1942 at the age of 86 years in her native San Francisco.[4]

Style[edit]

Anna Klumpke was primarily a genre painter, often painting pastoral scenes featuring static figures, usually female. Her painting, Catinou Knitting, was exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1887. This sentimental image proved highly popular in reproduction and is still sold in hand-painted copies.

Honours include[edit]

  • Silver medal of the ‘Reconnaissance Française’ (France)
  • Légion d’honneur (France 1924)

Publications[edit]

  • Anna Klumpke, A Turn-of-the-Century Painter and Her World Britta C Dwyer, 1999
  • Sa Vie Son Oeuvre (1908), published in English as Rosa Bonheur: The Artist's (Auto)Biography (Gretchen van Slyke, translator), 1998
  • Memoirs of an Artist Boston: Wright and Potter Printing Company, 1940

References[edit]

  1. ^ "American Art: Lesbian, Nineteenth Century", glbtq, Inc.
  2. ^ Julien Bogousslavsky, "The Klumpke Family – Memories by Doctor Déjerine, Born Augusta Klumpke", European Neurology, 2005;53:113–120
  3. ^ David Rogers, "John Klumpke's "Homestead" on Pine Ridge", The Double Cone Quarterly, Spring Equinox 2000, Volume III, Number 1
  4. ^ a b Lawrence J. Cantor & Company, "Anna Elizabeth Klumpke, (1856-1942)"