Elisabeth Erdmann-Macke

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Elisabeth Erdmann-Macke
August Macke and Elisabeth Gerhard in Bonn 1908.jpg
Elisabeth Gerhardt and August Macke in Bonn in 1908
Elisabeth Gerhardt

(1888-05-11)11 May 1888
Died17 March 1978(1978-03-17) (aged 89)
Berlin, Germany
Other namesElisabeth Macke
  • Writer

Elisabeth Erdmann-Macke (born Elisabeth Gerhardt; 11 May 1888 – 17 March 1978) was a German writer who focused on memoirs of her time as the wife of the expressionist painter August Macke, who portrayed her more than 200 times.[1] Her second husband, Lothar Erdmann, died in a concentration camp. She saved Macke's paintings and copies of his letters.


August Macke: Porträt der Frau des Künstlers mit Hut (1909)

Born in Bonn, Elisabeth Gerhardt, called Lisbeth, was the daughter of a family of merchants. Her father, Carl Gerhardt, owned a factory for pharmaceutical appliances. Her mother came from Erfurt. Elisabeth met August Macke in 1903, when he was 16.[1] They kept their relationship secret, but he often visited her parents' house under the pretense of painting her brother. When her father was seriously ill in 1905, she was sent for education to Bern. She learned French, English, Italian, music, home economics, and gardening. On 5 October 1909, she married Macke.[1] The couple had two sons, Walter and Wolfgang.[2] The Mackes were friends with Franz Marc and his wife Maria [de].[3][4] The couples met at the Blauer Reiter group at the house of Gabriele Münter in Murnau.[3]

On 1 August 1914, Macke was drafted into World War I and sent to the French Front. He died in battle on 26 September that year.[1] His wife received the information only a month later. She began in 1915 to write about their love and marriage, episodes of family life, and travels and meetings with artists, mainly to allow their sons to know their father, or as she put it, to preserve an image of their father ("ein Bild ihres Vaters zu bewahren").[1]

In 1916, she married Lothar Erdmann, a friend of her husband from school days, and had two more children, Dietrich and Constanze.[2] The family moved to Berlin-Tempelhof in 1925. Her oldest son died in 1927 of scarlet fever.[1] Her husband was arrested in 1939 under the Nazi regime and died in Sachsenhausen concentration camp.[1] Elisabeth moved Macke's paintings and made copies of his letters. His original letters were almost completely lost when the house was bombed in 1943.[1]

She returned to Bonn in 1948, where she lived in a small apartment in August Macke's atelier until 1976.[1] She took part in the cultural life of the town. She published her memoirs as a book in 1962.[5]

Memorial for August Macke and Elisabeth Erdmann-Macke in the Alter Friedhof, Bonn

She wrote memoirs of meetings with artists in the 1970s, including Robert and Sonia Delaunay, Lyonel Feininger, Paul Hindemith, Wassily Kandinsky, Paul and Lily Klee [de], the Marcs, Paul Magar [de], Herwarth Walden and Mary Wigman.[2] A collection based on 110 manuscripts, titled Begegnungen (Encounters), was published in 2009.[2]

She spent her last two years with her children in Berlin, where she died in 1978 at the age of almost 90.[1]


  • Erinnerung an August Macke (with an essay by Lothar Erdmann and 20 illustrations), Kohlhammer 1962; 16th edition, Fischer Taschenbuch, Frankfurt am Main 2006, ISBN 978-3-596-25660-0
  • Begegnungen, edited and with a biographical overview by Margarethe Jochimsen [de] and Hildegard Reinhardt [de], Kerber Verlag, Bielfeld 2009, ISBN 978-3-86678-292-1


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Kliemann, Thomas (10 May 2013). "Vor 125 Jahren wurde Elisabeth Erdmann-Macke geboren". Generalanzeiger (in German). Bonn. Retrieved 8 May 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d "Erdmann-Macke, Elisabeth". bonner-stadtlexikon.de (in German). Bonn. Retrieved 8 May 2019.
  3. ^ a b "Elisabeth Erdmann-Macke in München" (in German). Literaturportal München. Retrieved 8 May 2019.
  4. ^ Elisabeth Erdmann-Macke: Erinnerungen an August Macke. Frankfurt 1987, p. 238
  5. ^ Elisabeth Erdmann-Macke: Erinnerung an August Macke. Der Spiegel 43/1962


  • Hildegard Möller: Lisbeth und August Macke, in: Malerinnen und Musen des "Blauen Reiters", Piper Verlag, München/Zürich 2012, ISBN 978-3-492-27492-0; pp. 228–278


  • "Mein zweites Ich": August und Elisabeth Macke, in Schriftenreihe August Macke Haus, Bonn 2009, ISBN 978-3-929607-58-1

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