Bertha Wegmann (1847-1926)




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Published on Jul 17, 2010

Bertha Wegmann (1847-1926)

Bertha Wegmann was born in Soglio in Switzerland on 26th December.

She was five years old when her parents settled in Denmark. Her father, a manufacturer, had himself wanted to be a painter, and when he discovered his daughter's talent for drawing he supported her and was the first to give her lessons.

The 1860s
Bertha Wegmann trained at first in Copenhagen, where she was a pupil of the painters Heinrich Buntzen and F. C. Lund. They both belonged to a generation of painters whose idealizing and national-romantic style of painting was no longer fashionable.

At the age of 19, with financial support from the prosperous Melchior family, Bertha Wegmann continued her training in Munich. For 13 years she lived and studied there. Shortly after arriving in Munich she met the Swedish painter Jeanna Bauck, who had come to the city the year before, and they moved in together. Together they made many study trips to various parts of Europe, including the Tyrol, Brittany and Venice.

At last both reached Paris, and Bertha Wegmann became fascinated by modern French art. She exhibited at the Salon in Paris, where she received recognition (a mention honorable) in1881, and the next year she won the Minor Gold Medal for a portrait of her sister.

The Hanging Committee at Charlottenborg awarded her the Thorvaldsen Exhibition Medal when she exhibited the portrait of her sister back home in Denmark. After this she had great success, and the same year she became the first women ever to be elected to the Plenary Assembly of the Academy of Art.

Bertha Wegmann became a member of the Academy, and later in the year she succeeded in being elected to the Charlottenborg Hanging Committee, which had hitherto been the exclusive domain of the male artists. Bertha Wegmann worked actively for the admission of women to the Academy of Art. In 1888 the Art School for Women in Association with the Academy of Art was established. In these years Wegmann participated in major exhibitions in the Nordic countries and on the Continent, at the World Expositions in Paris in 1889 and 1900, and the World's Fair in Chicago in 1893 -- each time with distinction.

She became one of the first women to receive the Gold Medal of merit Ingenio et Arti from King Christian IX.
Bertha Wegmann died at the age of 79 amidst her work in her studio in Dronningens Tværgade. After her death Toni Müller, her flatmate in the building of the Women's Reading Association on Gl. Mønt, inherited all the paintings and studies she had left behind. In 1941 Müller sold the whole legacy at auction and founded a grant in Wegmann's name for the benefit of needy young female artists.



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