The Painter Ottilie W. Roederstein

About the exhibition

Ottilie W. Roederstein (1859–1937) devoted her entire life to art. As a freelance portrait painter, she was one of the most successful female artists of her time. She achieved financial independence and captured areas of social freedom that were denied most of her female contemporaries. Her paintings were presented in exhibitions in Germany, France, England, the United States and Switzerland and achieved international acclaim. Roederstein settled in Frankfurt in 1891 together with her companion Elisabeth Winterhalter, the first female surgeon in Germany. Winterhalter advocated the founding of a girls’ secondary school and supported the women’s rights movement in Frankfurt. In 1902, the Städel acquired its first work by a contemporary female artist: Roederstein’s painting Old Woman Reading. Today, she is largely unknown to a broader public, despite her regular exhibition activity and her former renown.

From 19 May to 5 September 2021, the Städel Museum is devoting a special exhibition to Ottilie W. Roederstein. This is her first retrospective in Germany for more than 20 years. With about 75 paintings and drawings, it provides a concentrated overview of the artistic development of the painter, whose style was extremely versatile. The exhibition is based on the collection of the Städel Museum, which, alongside the Kunsthaus Zürich and the Städtische Kunstsammlung Hofheim am Taunus, with 28 works has one of the most important body of works by the artist. The focus of the exhibition is Roederstein’s specific style of painting; however, it will also shed light on her role and impact as a networker and artist as well as her close connection with Frankfurt and the region. This becomes powerfully apparent based on a wealth of historical documents, photographs and letters from the artist’s estate that were transferred to the Städel Museum in 2019 from the heirs of her biographer Hermann Jughenn. The appraisal of the Roederstein-Jughenn archives brought previously unpublished information to light that will be incorporated into the exhibition and the accompanying catalogue.

Picture: Ottilie W. Roederstein, Self-Portrait with a Hat, 1904, Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main, Photo: Städel Museum

An exhibition by the Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main, in collaboration with the Kunsthaus Zürich.

Curators: Dr Alexander Eiling (Head of the Collection of Modern Art, Städel Museum), Eva-Maria Höllerer (Research Assistant, Collection of Modern Art, Städel Museum)
Archive: Dr Iris Schmeisser (Head of Provenance Research and the Historical Archives, Städel Museum)
Supported by: Gemeinnützige Kulturfonds Frankfurt Rhein Main GmbH, Friede Springer Stiftung, Max Ernst von Grunelius-Stiftung


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    Ottilie W. Roederstein, Worldly Wisdom or Three Women Turning Away from the World, 1926

    Ottilie W. Roederstein (1859–1937)
    Worldly Wisdom or Three Women Turning Away from the World, 1926
    Tempera on canvas
    46 × 73 cm
    Stadtmuseum Hofheim am Taunus
    Photo: Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main

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    Ottilie W. Roederstein, Portrait of a Painter in a Parisian Studio, 1887

    Ottilie W. Roederstein (1859–1937)
    Portrait of a Painter in a Parisian Studio, 1887
    Öl auf Leinwand
    86,1 × 49,5 cm
    Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main
    Photo: Städel Museum

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    Ottilie W. Roederstein, Still Life with Teacups, 1904

    Ottilie W. Roederstein (1859–1937)
    Still Life with Teacups, 1904
    Oil on canvas
    43 × 58.8 cm
    Private collection
    Photo: Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main

The Roederstein-Jughenn Archive

In 2019, the Städel Museum received the generous private donation of the extensive legacy left behind by the artist Ottilie W. Roederstein. These exceptional archival holdings are now undergoing thorough scholarly systemization and study at the museum with the aim of making them accessible to the public. The written and pictorial material dates from throughout the artist’s biography and career.

On the occasion of the exhibition, selected documents and photographs from the Städel Museum’s Roederstein-Jughenn Archive will offer initial insights into these important holdings.

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