26th Exhibition in the Internet Gallery Dethleffs:

Ursula Dethleffs:
Prodigy Child- the pride of her mother (1940-1949)

Ursula Dethleffs was celebrated as a prodigy-child early on. Her mother, the artist Fridel Dethleffs-Edelmann, was proud of the early fame of her daughter. Ursula herself was never happy about the word "prodigy".
Some of Ursula's works, which have been admired for many years, are more likely to be considered beautiful children's works than works of art. The judgment on the works shown in this exhibition I leave to the experienced art historians.
From the early period from 1940 to 1949, we have selected 24 of her most important works. If you want to use the link: Ursula Dethleffs / exhibition after periods / 1940-1950, you will find on these 5 pages also the remaining 125 works of the 149 children and youth works.
In addition, the early admirers of Ursula Dethleffs were also surprised when they first discovered: the Prodgy-child Ursula not only glued, drew and painted. There are already Ursula's in the first period: watercolors, tapestries, collages. couaches, reverse glass paintings, woodcuts, ceramic bowls, oil paintings and pen and ink drawings!

My short introductions are not about art criticism but about personal impressions. Since I was born in 1940, it's all about information from many conversations with the Dethleffs family, with art experts and information from the archive.

Bernd Riedle November / Decembre 2017

1940 Ursula 7 years old

The first self-portrait of Ursula is a glued collage - a child labor. Since this first self-portrait Ursula repeatedly combines different materials to her convincing works. At the beginning, children's works made of colored paper; later collages of paper or textiles on reverse glass paintings or tapestries; then of ceramic and metal to their material pictures; most recently from many finds for their late object works.

1940 Fridel, Ursula, Arist in Uniform
1940 Ursula auf ihrem Weihnachtsgeschenk
228001 Ursula Selbstbildnis Collage 1940

1941 Ursula 8 years old

The reverse glass painting "Mary and Jesus" in front of the Rosenhag shows how religiously Ursula was educated. Ursula's grandmother - lovingly named by her Gogge- was the source for this. Until her death, she lived with the Dethleffs in Isny - see oil painting "Grandmother with Ursula" WVZ-Nr. 152202. The faith of her Gogge, who had not been shaken by two world wars she had lived through, continued to live in Ursula. Although Ursula was Protestant, thanks to her mother she had been introduced early to the art of Old German painting. Therefore, she was also familiar with her works and her religion. Guided by her "Muttle", she was also able to make suggestions from these works - such as by Martin Schongauer: "Madonna im Rosenhag".

233009 Madonna mit Jesus im Rosenhag
Hinterglas 1941

1942 – Ursula 9 Years

1943 Ursula 10 years old

The composition "Before the Temple Gate" consists of a reverse glass painting, which is deposited with textile. The women are painted childlike and yet they are in their simplicity in the style of Ursula later. The image radiates in its diversity and its colors the meaning of the temple.

Mutter mit Ursula
Fohlen, Pferd und Ursula
292002 Vor dem Tempeltor Hinterglas, 1943

1944 Ursula 11 years old

From the mother came the reference to the mythological theme "Birth of Venus". Ursula realizes the task with graphic childishness, which, however, leads to a unity that surprises. The work with ceramics has Ursula learned from the Isnyer potter Fritz Blaicher - see oil painting WVZ no. 251002.

„Muttle“ beim Schneeschaufeln mit Ursula
Ursula auf „Vattle’s“ Schoß
261019 Geburt der Venus Keramikschale 1944

1945 Ursula 12 years old

Again a reverse glass picture - but this time two girls in a situation that seems to contradict the Upper Swabian morality. The moral of Ursula was not at all contrary to the grandmother's morality - both were not jammed. Evidence of this is also the back glass picture that Ursula painted for her grandfather Albert Dethleffs on his 80th birthday - see WVZ no. 231017 - The redhead

How can a 12-year-old girl turn a textile collage into a "still life with a nude" on a bright red ground? A cactus in the foreground. Behind a vase - overflowing with colored flowers. In addition, a large bouquet of yellow star flowers with orange flower baskets. From the wall looks - almost sinking in the flowers - a nude from the picture with a brown frame. This picture was exhibited i.a. 1993 in the exhibition of the secession Upper Swabia-Lake of Konstanz (SOB).

"Maria's Temples" on 21 November in Jerusalem: a graceful textile collage. Maria climbs the golden yellow stairs in the circle of women to the bishop. The image is captured at the top by the archway and two window arcs. The 13 women are dressed in long robes, all with long hair and the stylistically simple features of Ursula. The floor exudes majesty with its dark brown tiles.

"The Last Judgment" by Hieronymus Bosch probably inspired Ursula to write her sepia. But only the abundance of figures corresponds to the suggestion of H. Bosch. Ursula's drawing with God the Father and his sword, the warriors with turban and flowing robes, the devils with ugly faces, etc., seem childish. The ghastly fear, the blazing drama with the fear of the imminent end of the world at Bosch can not be felt. It is not necessary either: trusting in the grace of God does not need this clerical threat

For a change, a harsh woodcut from the cycle: "Children in the painting school" with the title: "Children show their pictures". For the faces of the children Ursula only indicates her eyes and her mouth. It would have been hard for the petite Ursula to carve the picture in the hard wood. Nevertheless, the woodcut was published in the books of Hans Ricklinger and Prof. Dr. med. H.Hofstätter (see biography with bibliography) 

231006 Liegende Akte Hinterglas um 1945
292015 Still-Leben mit Halbakt Bildteppich, 1945
292011 Marias Tempelgang Textil Collage Hinterglas um 1945
272005 Das jüngste Gericht, Tuschfeder-Sepia 1945
286006 „Kinder zeigen ihre Bilder“aus „Malunterricht“ Holzschnitt 1945

1946 Ursula 13 years

The little watercolor "In the living room". A warm, homely room: the father on the upholstered bench with white floral decor at the table. In addition, the old and thereby become small grandmother (Gogge) while knitting. To the right of her an old carpentry dresser. On the wall a picture, to the left of a round birdcage and more pictures. Above the rustic wooden ceiling, on the floor on the bright tiles a small round and a large, brown carpet. All details fit exactly to the cozy mood.

"Christ before Pontius Pilate" rests in himself and in his trust in God. Nothing in the glass picture seems uncertain or even dangerous. The background is painted in dominant royal blue. In front of it, the raised, blue armchair of Pilate in front of an emerald-green canopy. Pilatus dressed in sublime purple. In front of him stands Christ in dark blue with the rosary in his hand, which should give Jesus power in danger - as Ursula had experienced with her Catholic friends. Behind him in long robes the court-a watchman with a spear in his hand. Right front a woman with a shell. All faces in light gray, drawn with simple black contours.

Ursula als Modell
Ursula mit Bild von der Mutter poträtiert:WVZ 152044
201070 Im Wohnzimmer Aquarell 1946
233005 Christ in front of Pilatus Hinterglas 1946

1947 Ursula 14 years old

Ursula drew a cover picture with a pen and ink for the youth magazine "Grünschnabel": in the middle sits the black bird. His big beak - the logo - is decorated, in addition, almost imperceptibly green watercolored. All the children who play around him are delicately drawn - in contrast to the black body. Two girls ride on his beak. A boy climbs up his head. Below, a boy plays the violin while six girls listen to his play. Only the girl in the middle is wearing a blouse. The contrast between the slow-paced bird and the lively children is excellently solved.

Ursula's mother was famous for her portraits - see examples in the chapter "Treasures of Fridel Dethleffs-Edelmann. That's why Ursula has been working on portraits for a long time only as a draftsman. It had taken a long time until Ursula dared even to a portrait. The sculptor Rosemarie Dyckerhoff was a friend of the mother - she helped Ursula: she convinced her, she took her time and sat her then for the image model: the portrait as a gouache convinced! Although Ursula painted her teacher with her eyes closed because she was too self-conscious. But that did not bother, but it surprised because the reason for it remained unknown. The beauty and elegance of the sculptor has been preserved for posterity.

Again a pen and ink drawing - and again an affront to decent moralists. Not only for the friends of the art an unrestricted joy: With a precious divan, with branches, with pearls, with perfume, with a mirror, with hair accessories and with two girls who enjoy their beauty at ease.

Von der Konfirmation
Ursula mit Freundin im Dethleffs-Caravan
272145 Kinder mit Grünschnabel, Federzeichnung aquarelliert, 1947
201012 Porträt R. Dykerhoff Gouache 1947
272236 Zwei Mädchenakte Zeichnung Tuschfeder 1947

1948 Ursula 15 years old

Bright royal blue dominates the gouache of the "Knights of the Round Table". The four round arches of the windows are bordered in royal blue. King Arthur wears his blue king's coat. The collar of his queen is the same color. Only one of the knights wears his apron in bright blue - he belongs to the family. Although all the Knights of the Round Table are treated the same, everyone can dress as he sees fit - if he renounces the royal blue. The same status is the common claim, but that does not mean egalitarianism. Therefore, Ursula paints the 22 participants on the board in many bright colors. Your gouache is gorgeous. It corresponds to the dreams of the good knights. The gouache was published in November 1994 by the magazine "Die Frau".participants on the board in many bright colors. Your gouache is gorgeous. It corresponds to the dreams of the good knights. The gouache was published in November 1994 by the magazine "Die Frau".participants on the board in many bright colors. Your gouache is gorgeous. It corresponds to the dreams of the good knights. The gouache was published in November 1994 by the magazine "Die Frau".

A rare motive: Ursula's mother sits casually on the bench. Your gaze oblivious to the distance. The bands on the hat flutter easily. She is perfectly dressed. On her lap is a tapestry by Ursula, who connects her with her daughter. Only the perfect dress is also valid for her daughter Ursula. Quite different is the awesome attitude of Ursula: she is cramped in herself. The look reveals her fear of not meeting her mother's demands. Her hands folded over her chest. The picture speaks for itself: more words are unnecessary. Nevertheless, mother and daughter appear as a unit.

Even floral paintings are among the most famous works of Ursula's mother. Even the art commissioners of the Nazis "recommended" Fridel in writing in the Third Reich to only paint flowers. Who can be surprised that it took a long time for Ursula to dare flower paintings. The "Chrysanthemum in old rose vase" is one of her first flower paintings. Ursula's importance was not accuracy; it was not the transitoriness of the mother's paintings that was the evaporating, dissolving impression of the chrysanthemums. Their background is bicoloured - the blue is painted as nervously as the flowers of the chrysanthemums, the table for the bouquet in earthy brown. The vase as a focal point in glazed old rose. In doing so, Ursula not only succeeds in emancipating her mother's work, she paints the floral watercolor by Ursula Dethleffs.

The self-portrait of the sick Ursula with eyepatch II was for the exhibition "Children" in Biberach by Dr. med. Permanently selected. Unfortunately, we did not manage to get the oil picture in time. We sincerely regret this. With the exhibition here, we at least try to build a bridge to Biberach with the photo.

The first picture shows Ursula in front of a black background. The whole picture documents the suffering of the girl - see WVZ 251012 Self-portrait I

The second picture 252072 is the neutral representation of a child with eye patch. The background is now brown, the pullover dark brown so painted tone on tone. There is no more acute pain on the face - it uniformly shows the color of the skin.

The self-portrait as a pen and ink drawing shows Ursula, as few knew: A girl in puberty: surprised, with big eyes - tender, frightened and uncertain. Most of the time, she overplayed her own feelings. For the feelings she had her art, in which she was fully absorbed. Constantly she doubted herself, even in her works of art. That's one of the reasons she worked so hard and almost uninterruptedly. She was not good enough and wanted to get better.

201039 Ritter der Tafelrunde Gouache 1948
201051 Mutter und Tochter Gouache 1948
20162 Chrysanthemen in altrosa Vase Aquarell 1948
252072 Selbstbildnis II Öl-Karton 1948
272175 Selbstbildnis Tuschfederzeichnung 1948

1949 Ursula 16 years old

The exhibition "Children" at the Museum Biberach makes it absolutely essential to present Ursulas Gouache with the title "Fair Gigelberg Biberach-Riß". Ursula was fascinated by the "Gigelberg": everything was constructed there, which she had wanted - even a chain carousel with the flying swans and the princess of Hans Christian Andersen. Anyone who lives in Biberach will recognize more in the picture than an Isnyer. In any case, for Ursula, the joy was huge. Incidentally, this work is one of the best-rated gouaches - according to the judgment of the art historians from Karlsruhe.

Ursula has grown up - in relation to the drawn self-portrait a year ago: the background shows a darkened by black background in dull red. Included are some vertical stripes in red gold. They give the picture dynamics. At the same time they make Ursula the center, even though she is not sitting in the middle. Ursula supports her head thoughtfully with her hand. Her red and green striped pullover with the gray oval on the chest shows that it works inside. Otherwise, nothing will go outside now. She brings the world in to herself.

It was difficult to artistically edit the topic "fairground" as a "textile collage". The fabrics were chosen quickly. It became difficult when Ursula had to cut out the small pieces of cloth. The least she liked at the end sewing the fabrics, ribbons, ornaments, etc. All the better if the tapestry was then praised by the Muttle, if he liked the Vatle and the Gogge. Sometimes guests came to visit, who did not want to stop admiring and buy the tapestry. This rug, however, was not sold: Ursula gave it to Muttle on her 50th birthday!

Christmas was once the culmination of Christian families. The anticipation of Christmas, which overshadows everything else, is reflected in Ursula's ceramic bowl "Mary with Jesus in the Circle of Angels". Maria wears a small crown. But her head is framed by a condensed halo. Her dress is sewn of heavy fabric. She and Jesus are framed by an almost infinite swarm of angels: angels lying, standing, flying. The wings of the angels are drawn as individual feathers - the feathers easily carry the flyweight of the angels. Most angels wear their hair open. Some are naked, others dressed. They are protected on the edge of small trees with roots, of shrubs with flowers and in the sky again of angels. The shell itself is a unity of five ribbons with very finely drawn ornaments.

The white dove of peace in St. Mark's Square in Venice remains Ursula's first and deepest memory. Then the bust of the young Italian woman, surrounded by two wine jugs and a wine bottle: in vino veritas. Not too far in the background as a symbol of the Christian faith and the works of art in the churches: the holy family whose crown is carried by angels above the young Jesus. Her art will also be remembered with the glass picture of Ursula.

Wohnwagenmesse –Mutter und
Ursula mit ihrem Chowchow Ullok
1950: Ursula mit ihrer Mutter und dem Chowchow
201036 Jahrmarkt Gigelberg Biberach-Riß Gouache 1949
201108 Selbstbildnis Aquarell 1949
212002 Rummelplatz Bildteppich 1949
261024 Maria mit Jesus im Kreis der Engel Keramikschale 1949
232035 Erinerung an Italien Hinterglas um 1949

1989 Ursula 56 years old

The work had Dr. Degreif also selected for the exhibition "Children" in Biberach. Unfortunately we could not provide them, so at least we take the photo in our exhibition. The artwork was created in 1989; Ursula was 56 years old. 5 years later she died. Ursula was an only child. Siblings have missed her. The relief depicts the child, sitting alone on two wooden plates that dissolve sometime. The small element is the family, it will dissolve faster than the big plate. That is the synonym for the state, the continent or the whole earth. Next to the little doll lies a big wooden fan. Only these two objects are real objects. Everything else is wonderful finds; Objects with which children love to play unless they are showered with bought toys. Objects that stimulate your imagination; that help to make her brain grow


In 1994 - after Ursula's death - I took over responsibility for Dethleff's collection. 23 years have passed. Since then, I have shown 16 exhibitions in the Dethleffs studio (which unfortunately I had to sell) and 25 exhibitions here in the Dethleffs Gallery, which I built after the sale.The new Internet Gallery Dethleffs now fulfills the original wish of the Dethleffs family: the works of Fridel and Ursula Dethleffs should be open to all.

For more than 30,000 working hours, the preservation of the Dethleffs collection has cost me so far. I liked to "invest" the inherited assets in this work: It was an investment in which money was not the focus, but thanks to the Dethleffs: Arist Dethleffs laid the foundation for the German caravan industry in Isny. Together with his wife Fridel Dethleffs-Edelmann and the daughter Ursula Dethleffs, they supported the art of the last century in Germany. Bernd Riedle Isny-Ulm 2017

224066 Einsamkeit des Einzelkindes Objektkunst Relief Holz 1989