Richard Birnstengel

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Richard Theodor Birnstengel (born October 27, 1881 in Dresden ; † April 8, 1968 there ) was a German painter who worked in Saxony as well as in East Prussia .


Richard Birnstengel was born into a poor family. His mother was a midwife who raised three sons alone. He studied from 1901 to 1909 at the Dresden Art Academy with Oskar Zwintscher and Gotthardt Kuehl . It was there that he met Georg Gelbke , with whom he had a lot in common. Birnstengel took part in World War I as a soldier from 1915 to 1918. In 1916 an artist postcard with his painting “Scene at the 1st Dept. of Telegaph Battalion No. 7” went on sale. Such maps also appeared later, some self-published. In 1919 Birnstengel married the daughter of an estate manager near Dresden, to whom he had given drawing lessons. Gelbke married her sister.

1921–1925, Birnstengel undertook long study trips to Bavaria and Austria, the Moselle valley and northern Germany, and from 1927 to 1928 to southern France and Corsica. Other trips took him to Dalmatia. From 1930 to 1944 he stayed regularly on the Curonian Spit , where he built a house in Purvin (today Purvynė) in 1939, where he set up his studio and where he belonged to the small artists' colony there.

In 1945 Birnstengel lost his apartment and studio in a bomb attack on Dresden. Most of the works were destroyed. Only outsourced work was saved. After 1945 he was often on the Baltic Sea, especially in Saßnitz. In 1947 Birnstengel took part in the first exhibition of Dresden artists initiated by the Kulturbund for the Democratic Renewal of Germany and in 1949 in the second German art exhibition in Dresden.

"Water and space, sky and wind", this description of the Curonian Spit moved in 1930 Richard Birnstengel in the famous artists' colony of Nida , where he built a house. There he painted realistic fishermen motifs, later also characterful head portraits from the time of the escape from East Prussia in the Second World War, and again and again barges and boat builders . Some of these paintings can be found today in the archives of the Kulturhistorisches Museum of the Hanseatic City of Stralsund , the other part is in private ownership.

On October 20, 2019, an episode of NDR's Lieb & Teuer program was broadcast, which was filmed in Reinbek Castle and hosted by Janin Ullmann . Two watercolors by Birnstengel were discussed with painting expert Barbara Guarnieri, which show three women at work in front of a fisherman's cottage and a portrait of a fisherman.

Portfolio editions (selection)

  • Graphics portfolio (without title) with 15 chalk lithographs, scratched; printed by the art publisher Emil Richter, 1917 (in the collection of the Lindenau Museum, Altenburg / Thuringia)

Book illustrations (selection)

  • Dresden calendar 1927, yearbook on artistic, intellectual and economic life in Dresden (publisher Johann Erich Gottschalch ); u. a. with reproductions of drawings and paintings as well as 12 graphics by Birnstengel. Carl Creutzburg printing works, Dresden, 1927

Exhibitions (selection)

  • 2005 Nida, Klaipèda and Vilnius (with Georg Gelbke)

Works in museums and public collections (selection)

  • Altenburg (Thuringia), Lindenau Museum (including seated woman; chalk lithograph, 1917)
  • Dresden, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen (a.o. Expansive Belgians I .; oil painting, 1918)
  • Frankfurt (Oder), Museum Junge Kunst (drive home, watercolor, 1949)


  • German Biographical Archive (DBA) II 127,248
  • Special catalog of the manuscript collection of the Saxon State Library - State and University Library ( SLUB) on the written estate of Richard Birnstengel, 2004
  • Pear stem, Richard . In: Hans Vollmer (Hrsg.): General Lexicon of Fine Artists of the XX. Century. tape 1 : A-D . EA Seemann, Leipzig 1953, p. 218 .
  • Dietmar Eisold (editor): Lexicon artists in the GDR. Verlag Neues Leben, Berlin, 2010; P. 79
  • Lothar Lang : Painting and graphics in the GDR. Publishing house Philipp Reclam jun. Leipzig, 1983; Pp. 14, 204
  • Andreas Albert: Richard Birnstengel (1881-1968): A Dresden painter and his adopted home on the Curonian Spit , Husum Verlag, 2011; ISBN 978-3-89876-565-7

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. The second name "Theodor" is listed at the DNB.
  2.; accessed August 8, 2020
  5. Video watercolors by the Nidden artist Richard Birnstengel on
  6. a b c Image index of art & architecture
  7. ^ Lothar Lang: Painting and Graphics in the GDR. Publishing house Philipp Reclam jun. Leipzig, 1983; P. 217