Catherine Klein - Vintage Art


Catharina Klein [b. 1861, Eylau, East Prussia - d. 1929, Berlin, Germany] is also known as Catherine Klein. Her name was Anglicized during WWI to avoid any disinclination to buy her work. She is sometimes mistakenly referred to as "Christine". Her signature is "C.Klein" and usually accompanies her work, especially in those postcards and prints closest to the original paintings which were in oil or gouache, an opaque watercolor paint. If her signature is underlined, it’s an indication of an earlier work. She rode the crest of chromolithography at the end of the 19th and into the 20th Century. Catharina Klein was born in 1861 in Eylau in East Prussia (what is now a Russian province called Kallinigrad which is actually separated by the Baltic States from Mainland Russia).

Catharina Klein later moved to Berlin where she studied at the Vocational School. She was one of the most respected and popular flower painters of all time. She ran a studio in Berlin and trained young women how to paint. The art establishment considered her a commercial artist and disregarded her work. Very few original paintings still exist. Several of the warehouses which may have contained the originals were destroyed in WWII. Catharina Klein painted more than 2,000 different still life images which exist now only on postcards, calendars, and advertisments. She has an avid following among ceramic painters. She died in Berlin in 1929. She was a single woman in a male dominated art world and she earned her living through her talent which was a remarkable feat for that period.


Ever industrious and clearly in demand, Catharina Klein submitted her work to several publishers. The best among them were Meissner and Buch in Leipzig, a couple of Swiss firms, and Adolphe Tuck of London (His father's name was Rafael and they were Germans prospering in England just before war broke out between the two countries! Just like the British Royal Family, they Anglized their names to desguise their true origins).
Catharina Klein painted from real life examples so that inadvertently she documented varieties of fruits and flowers which are now considered to be heirloom. The larger her signature is in proportion to the card the greater the likelihood that the card depicts only a detail of a larger work.




Sadly, in the 1950's an investigation of her gravesite took place and as no relatives were known to have visited her and the art establishment (whoever THEY are) decided she wasn't of significant enough importance to have her grave preserved, they dug her up and destroyed the remains so that someone else might be buried in her spot.
Even more tragic, several buyers of her postcards today cut them up to make jewelry or decopage wall hangings,thus destroying the only memory of this fantasticly creative artist. Her graphic designs are some of the most clever ever put on paper.
Recent auctions of her cards on Ebay have fetched close to the $200 mark.






















Catharina Klein, nacque nel 1861 a Eylau, nella Prussia orientale (oggi la provincia russa di Kallinigrad). Conosciuta anche come Catherine Klein, il suo nome fu anglicizzato durante la prima guerra mondiale. La sua firma è "C. Klein" e di solito accompagna il suo lavoro.
Per motivi di studio si trasferì a Berlino dove frequentò  una scuola professionale. In seguito aprì un atelier per conto suo ed insegnò a dipingere alle giovani donne.
Catherine Klein collaborò con diversi editori, tra cui Meissner e Buch a Lipsia e Raphael Tuck di Londra.
Rispetto ad altri artisti, ebbe l'intuizione di mettere la sua firma vicino al soggetto in modo tale che fosse difficile eliminarla in fase di stampa, anche se questo non impedì ad alcuni editori di manipolarla in epoca successiva.
Più grande è la firma (in proporzione alla carta) e maggiore è la probabilità che si tratti di un dettaglio di un'opera.
Catherine Klein viene considerata un'artista dell'epoca vittoriana.
Tale termine è impreciso: i suoi primi lavori sono stati realizzati negli ultimi anni del regno della regina Vittoria, ma il suo stile è realistico e quindi non può riferirsi a quel periodo artistico.
La maggior parte della sua opera si può ammirare solo su cartoline, calendari e pubblicità: infatti, delle oltre 2000 immagini di vita eseguiti ad acquerello e ad olio, solo pochi quadri originali sono ancora esitenti, questo perchè i capannoni che contenevano le tele ed i disegni vennero distrutti durante la seconda guerra mondiale. Oltre a ciò, diversi acquirenti ritagliarono le sue cartoline per farne carta da parati o da découpage, cancellando l'unico ricordo di quest'artista fantasticamente creativa.
Catherine Klein morì a Berlino nel 1929.
Era una donna sola che si guadagnava da vivere in un mondo maschile grazie al suo talento, un'impresa notevole per l'epoca.
Purtroppo, nel 1950, un'indagine sulla sua sepoltura stabilì che, in mancanza di parenti stretti, i suoi resti non fossero di rilevante importanza da mantenerne la tomba, e vennero distrutti. Oggi i suoi lavori sono ricercati dai collezionisti.