Ursula Dethleffs:
Precious Ceramic Bowls 1944 – 1956


Ursula Dethleffs was eleven years old. At that time, she painted her first ceramic bowl titled "Birth of Venus". The title came not from Ursula but from her mother, the painter Fridel Dethleffs-Edelmann.

The mother was Ursula's most important teacher: Ursula learned almost everything from her, so in her earliest youth, drawing to nature. Again and again the mother and her daughter strode through the Allgäu; They visited exhibitions, churches and museums again and again. Afterwards, they solidified together the admiration of art books from Mother's library.

On one occasion her mother drew the daughter's attention to a painting by Botticelli, entitled "Birth of Venus". Botticelli had his Venus raised from the two open halves of a shell. This scene was taken over by Ursula in her "Birth of Venus".

The work of the young Ursula can not be compared with the painting of the famous Botticelli. However, it is extraordinary for the young artist:

For Ursula translated the big theme into the completely different format of the small ceramic bowl. She has not just copied, but has decorated her ceramic bowl with the Venus of her own:

Birth of Venus, 1944, WVZ 261019


The next ceramic shell of Ursula was created a year later: 1945 had ended the unfortunate Second World War. At that time, the gratitude of the survivors was great and the Christian faith was important. This was also the case with the Dethleffs family, who together with the mother of Fridel Dethleffs-Edelmann lived in her "villa" in Isny (until it was confiscated by the French army two years).

In addition to the art books, the stories of the Bible were the most important sources of the young Ursula. Among the artists of the Middle Ages, Maria was often the centerpiece of her paintings as a Madonna. That is why the Ursula Dethleffs, who was actually a Protestant, revered the Mother of God as a Catholic.

For her "Maria in the hay of the roses" Ursula together with her mother in the art history had found many paintings as a suggestion.

Mary in the hay of the roses, 1945 WVZ .261009

Ursula's painting was still very childish. But she had also embedded the theme in the rounding of the ceramic bowl. Ursula has not only painted it, but has also translated the subject into the new technique.


Ursula was 16 years old. In 1949 the most important ceramic bowls by Ursula Dethleffs have been created. Alone in the collection Dethleffs eight ceramic shells of this year are exhibited by her.
Two of these works were also taken in 1949 in the exhibition "Christian art of the present": in Ravensburg and Freiburg.

Virgin Mary with her girlfriends, 1949, WVZ 261023
In: Exhibitions „Christian art of the present“
Scenes from the life of Jesus, 1949, WVZ 261026
In: Exhibitions „Christian art of the present“

Despite this distinction, it should not be overlooked that the eleven works of 1949 still originate from 16-year-old Ursula Dethleffs:

The uniqueness of these ceramic bowls - with their drawings, their image composition and the mastery of technology - is so great that today it seems almost unbelievable. It is therefore all the more surprising that the original manuscript by Ursula Dethleffs is clearly evident in all works.

Of course, Ursula's mother was involved in the development as well as the friendly potter Fritz Blaicher from Isny. But that does not alter the fact: they are the precious ceramic bowls of Ursula Dethleffs.

Above, we have shown the two exposed ceramic shells, below we present the six other works of 1949.

Temptation of Adam and Eve,
around 1949, WVZ 261002
Adam and Eve on the Tree of Knowledge,
1949, WVZ 261018
Adoration of Mary and Jesus with angels,
1949, WVZ 261017
Mary with Jesus in the circle of angels, 1949 WVZ 261024
St. Francis with the witnesses of truth
1949, WVZ 261022
Marien cycle, 1949, WVZ 261025


Ursula had so far always refined her own style. This period was completed for her in 1949. Now she sought a new possibility of her artistic expression.
Should she loose herself from the very finely drawn pictures of her ceramic shells? Should she give up entirely and instead deal with the pure ornament painting?
The result of this consideration was this single ceramic bowl:

Ornamental, 1950, WVZ 261006

The result was fascinating. But it was too far from her artistic concept. In addition, the workload was very high, the artistic result was too technical for Ursula and much too small.

1953 - 1956

The second alternative fitted much better to her further development:

She detached herself from all the finely detailed drawings of the young girl, from the graphic elements without meaning. She painted concrete and transferred her expressions freely to her ceramic bowls:

Three Girl, about 1953, WVZ 261036
Sitting Female Nude, about 1956, WVZ 261030

The last four ceramic bowls by Ursula Dethleffs, known to us, were made in 1956. From the following years, many other works have been exhibited in many other techniques by the artist on the homepage (see above: Home Ursula Dethleffs / exhibition by periods).

Anyone who understands the close connection between Fridel Dethleffs-Edelmann and their daughter Ursula often believes that the works of art of the two must be the same. In reality, they are fundamentally different. This is proved by a link to the two short chapters of this homepage:

Fridel Dethleffs-Edelmann: Treasures


Ursula Dethleffs: Treasures

Bernd Riedle (cousin of Ursula Dethleffs)
December 2016