Walter Petersen

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Walter Petersen , also Walther Petersen (born April 6, 1862 in Burg an der Wupper , Rhine Province , † 1950 in Düsseldorf ), was a German portrait , genre and history painter from the Düsseldorf School .


Petersen, son of a pastor born in Wengern bei Wetter an der Ruhr , who had come to Burg an der Wupper from Solingen for a few years in the mid-19th century , attended schools in Elberfeld , Hagen and Witten and then decided, contrary to family tradition, to be a painter to become. In 1879 he began studying painting at the Düsseldorf Art Academy . There were Hugo Crola , Heinrich Lauenstein and above all (1879-1881) Peter Janssen the Elder (1881-1893 / 1894) his teachers. For the years 1879/1880 there is a note in the student lists that Petersen was often “disabled” or “prevented” by an eye disease. He was able to overcome this suffering. Due to his sense of color and his virtuosity, which he had shown with the watercolor funeral in rainy weather , he soon found special attention. As a student in Janssens “1. Class for figure painting ”he finished his academy studies in 1894 at the latest. As Crola's assistant he remained involved in teaching at the Düsseldorf Academy for five years after his studies.

Petersen belonged to the artists' association Malkasten and presented the festival A First Greetings from Kurbrandenburg together with the history painter Hugo Zieger on October 15 and 16, 1888 to “celebrate the 600th anniversary of the city of Düsseldorf” . From 1900 to 1903 the painter Marie Stein was his student, and he also gave private instructions to the painter Heinz Wever and the painter Mechthild Buschmann . In 1903 his son, who later became portrait painter Oswald Petersen , was born in Düsseldorf . From his residence in Düsseldorf, he traveled to Europe and North America. He was awarded a medal at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition , held in St. Louis in 1904 .

House Lindemannstrasse 42 (2019)

In the period up to the end of the First World War , his art - first wall painting, then increasingly portrait painting, often done in pastel - was very popular. In his portraits, following the example of great portrait painters such as Diego Velázquez , Anthonis van Dyck , Rembrandt van Rijn , Frans Hals , Joshua Reynolds and Thomas Gainsborough , he tried to combine an elegant and decorative appearance of a person with the psychological representation of individual characteristics. His portraits were often exhibited in the Eduard Schulte Gallery. There he had caused a sensation in 1894 with an exhibition of Bismarck images that had been created as studies in Varzin and Friedrichsruh between 1891 and 1893 . In February 1914, the Aachen Museum Association organized a special exhibition of his portraits. The late Wilhelmine criticism celebrated him especially as a “lady painter”. At the time of the German National Art Exhibition in Düsseldorf in 1902 , the art historian Walther Gensel (1870–1910) said about his portrait painting that Petersen was the first among Düsseldorf painters in this subject . As a sought-after commission painter in the upper class, he soon achieved wealth, prosperity and public recognition. In 1913/1914 Petersen had the famous architect Wilhelm Kreis build an elegant town house at Lindemannstraße 42 in Düsseldorf- Düsseltal , which is now a listed building. He was given the title of professor before 1914 .

The personalities that Petersen portrayed included famous contemporaries, including the industrial daughter Hedwig Thyssen (1889), the aged Chancellor Otto von Bismarck (1891, 1892, 1893), the imperial lady-in-waiting Therese Countess von Brockdorff (1892), and the Saxon Minister of War Paul von der Planitz (1896), the landscape painter Oswald Achenbach (1899), the Düsseldorf honorary citizen Heinrich Lueg (1902), the Princess Eleonore Leopoldine Aloysia zu Salm-Salm (posthumously, 1904), the Princess Franziska Maria von Croy (1907), the Chocolate manufacturer Carl Russ-Suchard (1912), Colonel General Erich Ludendorff (1915, 1917, 1923), Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg (1916, 1918), Grand Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz (1918) and Judaist Selma Stern (around 1919). Accordingly, he headed his memoirs, which Petersen had published in Berlin in 1937, with the line Before great contemporaries .

In the summer of 1936 Petersen met his "Führer" Adolf Hitler at the Berghof on Obersalzberg . The meeting came about through Petersen's cousin, the laryngologist Carl Otto von Eicken . He had operated on Hitler's neck in 1935 and thus saved his voice. Out of gratitude, Hitler complied with his doctor's request to have Petersen portray him. Although Hitler refused a portrait session due to lack of time, he allowed Petersen, as one of the few painters, to study him up close. Petersen's portrait of Hitler has not survived. From then on in the favor of Hitler, he had a Petersen portrait of Hindenburg acquired. In 1942 he was honored with the Goethe Medal for Art and Science .

In February 1953 the Art Association for the Rhineland and Westphalia , which was then headed by Hildebrand Gurlitt , organized a commemorative exhibition for Petersen in the Kunsthalle Düsseldorf , which was also dedicated to the memory of Franz Kiederich , Ernst te Peerdt and Max Stern . The archive of the artists' association Malkasten manages Petersen's estate .


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Wilhelm Rosenbaum: On the 150th birthday of the painter Walter Petersen . Solinger Tageblatt, September 27, 2014, accessed on December 23, 2018
  2. ^ Adolf Rosenberg : From the Düsseldorf School of Painting. Studies and sketches . Brockhaus, Leipzig 1890, p. 48 ( digitized version )
  3. Finding aid 212.01.04 Student lists of the Art Academy Düsseldorf , website in the portal ( Landesarchiv Nordrhein-Westfalen )
  4. Inventory list , website in the portal
  5. Volker Frech: Living pictures and music using the example of Düsseldorf culture . Master's thesis University of Cologne 1999, Diplomica Verlag, Hamburg 1999, ISBN 978-3-8324-3062-7 , p. 75 ( Google Books )
  6. ^ Walter Petersen: Three portrait painters . In: The Rhineland . Issue 6, March 1901, p. 22 ( digitized version )
  7. ^ Hermann Schweitzer : Report on the activities of the museum association in 1914 . In: Aachener Kunstblätter . Volume 9/10, p. 107 ( digitized version )
  8. ^ Walter Gensel: The art exhibitions 1902 . In: Max Martersteig (Hrsg.): Yearbook for fine arts . 2nd year, Berlin 1903, p. 3 ( digitized version )
  9. Johannes Gramlich: The Thyssens as an art collector. Investment and symbolic capital (1900–1970) . Ferdinand Schöningh, Paderborn 2015, ISBN 978-3-506-77981-6 , p. 71 ( Google Books )
  10. ^ Entry from March 31, 1915 in the diary of Willy Spatz 1914–1919 . City Archives Düsseldorf
  11. ^ Andreas Schroyen: Düsseldorf. The most beautiful city on the Rhine. Hand-colored slides by the Lichtbildanstalt Carl Simon & Co. from around 1930 . Sutton Verlag, Erfurt 2012 ISBN 978-3-95400-118-7 , p. 59 ( Google Books )
  12. Art for everyone. Painting, sculpture, graphics, architecture . Issue 22, August 15, 1902, p. 523 ( digitized version )
  13. ^ Adriaan W. Vliegenthart: picture collection of the princes of Salm-Salm . Walburg Pers, Zutphen / Rhede 1981, ISBN 90-6011-296-2 , p. 187
  14. Portrait of Colonel General Erich Ludendorff , website in the portal , accessed on December 23, 2018
  15. ^ Wolfram Pyta: Hindenburg. Rule between Hohenzollern and Hitler . Siedler Verlag, Munich 2007, p. 129 ff.
  16. Portrait of Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg , website in the portal , accessed on December 23, 2018
  17. ^ Westermannsmonthshefte , Verlag Georg Westermann, Volume 62 (1918), p. 492
  18. Thalheimer Family fonds , website in the portal , accessed on December 23, 2018
  19. Walter Petersen: Before great contemporaries. Memories of a painter . Verlag Karl Siegismund, Berlin 1937
  20. Tobias Ronge: The image of the ruler in painting and graphics of National Socialism. An investigation into the iconography of leaders and functionaries in the Third Reich . Dissertation University of Tübingen 2009, Lit Verlag, Berlin 2010, ISBN 978-3-643-10856-2 , p. 256 ( Google Books )
  21. Thomas Lienkamp, ​​Kerstin Früh: Finding aid: Depositum 4‐159, Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen 1829–1979 (2011) , and 5‐4‐6, poster collection of the Kunstverein Düsseldorf 2010/2011/2013 . P. XIV and P. 131