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Julie Wolfthorn (January 8, 1864 – December 26, 1944) was a German painter. Born as Julie Wolf(f) to a middle-class Jewish family, she later styled herself as Julie Wolfthorn after her city of birth Thorn (Toruń).
Wolfthorn was born in Thorn (Toruń) in the Prussian Province of Prussia. In 1883, she moved to Berlin to live with her relatives after her parents died. In 1890, she studied in Curt Herrmann's Drawing and Painting School for ladies. Since German art academies would not permit women, she traveled to Paris to study at the Académie Colarossi and Académie Julian, where she gained much of the skills needed to become successful. After she finished her studies in Paris, Wolfthorn returned to Berlin. In 1898, she became the co-founder of the Berlin Secession and the "Verein der Künstlerinnen und Kunstfreunde Berlin" (Association of Artists and Art Lovers Berlin). In 1905, Julie Wolfthorn and over 200 female artists signed a petition to be allowed to join the Prussian Academy of Arts, which was ultimately rejected by the academy director Anton von Werner.
With Käthe Kollwitz, she founded the exhibition cooperation "Verbindung Bildender Künstlerinnen". The two women are elected to directors of the "Secession" in 1912, but she and Fanny Remak are removed in 1933. Julie Wolfthorn stayed in Berlin, working with the "Kulturbund Deutscher Juden" (Cultural Association of German Jews) under pressure from the Nazis, which declared it illegal in 1941, arresting the members and seizing the possessions.
On October 28, 1942, 78-year-old Julie Wolfthorn and her sister Luise Wolf who, like all other family members except the painter called themselves Wolff or Wolf, were transported to the Theresienstadt concentration camp. Wolfthorn is said to have continued drawing, as far as possible under the circumstances, until her death on December 26, 1944.
Known best for her portraits, Wolfthorn was one of the leading female artists at the start of the 20th century, along with Käthe Kollwitz and Dora Hitz. She created portraits of hundreds of famous people from her time from Berlin, including many female activists. Some of the most famous subjects of her portraits include:
- Ida and Richard Dehmel
- Hedda Eulenberg
- Hedwig Lachmann
- Gustav Landauer
- the families of the architects Hermann Muthesius and Peter Behrens
- Dagny Juel-Przybyszewska
- Gabriele Reuter
- Grete and Conrad Ansorge
- Tilla Durieux
- Maria Orska
- Carola Neher
- Bjørn Bjørnson
- Margarethe and Gerhart Hauptmann
- Emilie and Rudolf Mosse
- Christian Rohlfs
- Breuer, Gerda. Meer, Julia (Ed.): Women in Graphic Design, Jovis. Berlin, 2012. ISBN 978-3-86859-153-8, p. 403 ff, 587-588
- Heike Carstensen: Die Malerin und Graphikerin Julie Wolfthorn (1864 - 1944). Rekonstruktion eines Künstlerinnenleben, Marburg 2011.
- Hedwig Brenner: Jüdische Frauen in der bildenden Kunst II. Konstanz 2004.
- Jugend Jg. 2, No. 47, cover design, 1897.