Ursula Dethleffs:
Precious backglass pictures ab1945

1945 Maria mit Jesus, #233001
1946 Christus vor Pilatus, #233005

In 1941 Ursula Dethleffs discovered for the first time that she can also paint on glass panes with paint. It began with childish representations of Madonnas and Saints. It was true that the Dethleffs family was evangelical, but in the picture books of the old masters all Christians worshiped Mary and the saints.

The first glass-picture in this exhibition was painted in 1945: still childlike naive, „Mary with Jesus“ and angels radiant against a dark background. It is perhaps not yet a work of art. But it shows why Ursula had such great pleasure in the biblical stories and the beautiful pictures. 1946 - Ursula is already starting from the old models. The biblical stories come to life. Ursula starts to find her own stile. 

1949 Erinnerung an Italien, #232035
1950 Adam und Eva, #233008
1951 Vögel in Zweigen, #232038

This is followed by a colorful series of precious pictures whose themes vary widely. In 1949, their own „Memories of the first trip to Italy“ with their parents (1949) are accompanied by a background of religiosity. Then again, the religious theme "Adam and Eve in Paradise" (1950) dominated; The painted frame enlarges the picture. In 1951 nature is its theme with "Birds in twigs"; The picture is reminiscent of a scissor-cut, in which she structures the birds and plants over a large area with a narrow brush.

1952 Liebespaar mit Hahn, #232037
1955 Die Rothaarige, #231017

1952 Ursula was 19 years old - for the first time her "Love couple with cock" appeared. Then a surprise: in 1955 the timid Ursula painted the barbus "Red-haired" as a gift to the 80th birthday of your grandfather, the manufacturer Albert Dethleffs.

1959 Schießbude # 232002
1959 Fahrendes Volk # 232003
1959 Rummelplatz # 232005
1959 Eisbahn # 232007
1959 Zeltplatz # 232008
1959 Herbstfest # 232030

From 1959, Ursula's glass pictures are omitted and colorful: It starts with the "Shooting gallery", on which the allegedly maid-raised Ursula herself shoots after the trophies. Then the "Traveling people" - the dream of the mother, who would have preferred to go as a child with the gypsies through the country. The "Rummelplatz" at Isnyer Kinderfest visits Ursula with her girlfriend. In the winter, she can go to the „Iice rink“ and later painting the two girls dancing gracefully on the ice. On the "Campsite" she was often - the picture shows Ursula, how she goes once again alone by a pair of lovers in the tent. At the "Herbstfest" the blues is swinging in muted tones, on the ground the fallen leaves and in the foreground two girls, who are tired of their loneliness.

1960 Bildhauerin-Rousselle # 231024
1960 Tänzerinnen # 232001

In 1960, for the first time, Ursula portrayed the sculptress Marianne Rousselle on a glass-pictureh: the color of the portrayed artist and the torso she designed was gloomy; Three yellow-red star flowers with green leaves loosen up the mood.

The sculptress was often a guest at Dethleffs. Fridel Dethleffs-Edelmann - Ursula's mother had portrayed her girlfriend on previous visits: thus portrayed in 1948 (WVZ No. 152068) and 1949 (WVZ No. 152004).

Ursula's picture of the backdrop "Dancers" shows two blasted lace dancers, who are playing in front of the three ballets in the background. The decorations underline the subtleties of the dancers.

1963 Winter, #232250

In 1963 the cold landscape "Winter" was created. Above are trees whose stems are reminiscent of pointed icicles. Beneath this, filigree painted flowers in the snow, partly kinked by the cold. Delicately painted colors that underline the cold of winter. Transitions to abstract art are visible in the landscape.

1970 Mädchen m Kopftuch, #231031
1971 Großes Tor von Kiew, #234002
1975 Schlangenbändigerin 234015

1970 With the portrait of the "girl with headscarf" Ursula Dethleffs reduced the girl's face stylistically. It becomes a recognition feature of their work. For this, the headscarf animated the picture. The slender horseshoe form the counterweight to the round head. 1971 - the cityscape "Great Gate of Kiev" as a reminder of the Russian journey of the Dethleffs family in 1967: the mystic, tightly built city with its thick walls, with the red and black onion towers and gilded signs - Kiev = the Magnificent! 1975 - the "snake tamer", a motif of fairy tales and jugglers from mother's youth: the flaming hair of the courageous woman, entwined by the green scaly, exotic serpent and - a long distance away - the curiously anxious with their children

1976 Susanna, #234022
1976 Mädchen mit Einhorn, #234019
1976 Erntedank, #232119

1976 - According to the biblical story, Susanna was attacked by two judges who wanted to rape her - but Susanna defended herself with success. The "Susanna" with Ursula Dethleffs is the crass contrast: she does not resist, she is object: a frozen woman with red-brown hair. Next to it a tree as a phallic symbol. That's all. The picture does not tell - in the sense of New Objectivity. 1976 - with the "girl with unicorn" - sexuality plays the central role again: the unicorn as a sign of virginity. The Virgin is greeted in the foreground by the unicoloured unicorn, which playfully lowers his head with the horn in front of the girl. Behind them are flowers that are just blossoming. On the other side the branch of a tree with still ripening oranges. 1976: The last back-glass in our exhibition: "Erntedank". An abstract work that masterfully uses the luminosity of the back-glowing technology. It symbolizes the fading of the summer, which makes everything ripen and thus provides the overflowing fullness of the harvest in the autumn.


22 Works are only a small part of the website, shown in the homepage, with over 165 backglass pictures. Nevertheless, they show the diversity and the artistic development of Ursula Dethleffs. Anyone who still considers that Ursula Dethleffs has been artistically successful in additional 18 art techniques (number of works) can appreciate her life.

Personal introduction by Bernd Riedle

A back-glass picture was the first picture I bought myself. As soon as I could afford it after my studies, I saved myself a small collection. From my cousin Ursula I could not buy a back-glass picture for a long time. When I came to the company after Isny, she only had her favorite pictures, from which she could not separate. Years later she told me to buy one of her paintings from a collector. The title: "Great Christmas picture" - its price 5,000 DM. I do not show it in this exhibition, but it is under the WVZ_Nr, 232200 with the search function.

With my love for backglass pictures, I could not at first understand why back-glass pictures had not previously been regarded as works of art. The reason was that, in the 18th and 19th centuries, images of the old masters were poorly copied: the same motif, the same picture was produced in the home of large-scale families in the country, and sold in large quantities by domesticians as religious folk art.

Only after 1900 did this change: new backglass pictures were painted by artists such as Paul Klee, the group "The Blue Rider", by the popular naive Ivan Generalic and by Gerhard Richter as abstract works: in the 20th century, the image of back-glass pictures by artists - and later by Ursula Dethleffs - was again discovered as an art technique

Bernd Riedle 01.09.2017