Friday, January 29, 2010


This blog is dedicated to the great German painter Catharina Klein!

I've noticed several postings on the internet which have the wrong information regarding one of the greatest still life painters of all time, Catharina Klein, and I thought I would share with this group my research on her. Many of the reference books listing her are incorrect.

Catharina Klein 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.

Additional information on her work will be posted here shortly.

Joseph Truskot
January 29, 2010


  1. Hello Joe,
    I'm so very pleased to see that you have started this site and I look forward to further posts.

    Can I question/correct the information you've presented about the Tuck postcard company. I don't understand your reference to a 'Joseph Tuck'. The Tuck company was founded by Raphael, he retired in 1881 and it was then his son Adolphe/Adolf who ran the company with his brothers through to the mid 1920's. Klein would most likely have dealt with the company in the era of Adolphe Tuck.

    Adolf had five children, there were no Josephs to my knowlege; William Reginald 1883 - 1954, Gladys Evelyn 1885 - 1967, Sybil Grace 1887 - 1979, Desmond Adolph 1889 - 1959, and Muriel Jeanetta 1892 - 1988.

    The above information came from family tree detail and from Tuck company records as reported in the newspapers of the early 1900's.

    Whatever the detail, I welcome your site enormously and encourage you to post more about Klein and her work.

    KInd regards from England

  2. Dear Joe,

    I have recently discovered the work of Catharina Klein as I am researching a tea set painted with one of her designs (2 budgies on a cherry branch- I'm sorry, I don't know name of the original work). It is a beautiful porcelain tea set which is hand-painted though possibly over a transfer. From reading your blog I take it that it is too much to hope that it was decorated by the artist but probably the manufacturer ripped off her design. Have you got any additional information? (the set is backstamped MADE IN ENGLAND if that helps). Having seen her work I shall be looking our for more.

    Thanks for the interesting Blog

  3. Dear Joe; I'm researching the origin of a table lamp with this artist name(signature) on it. it makes sence to say that the flowers (gorgeous painting) could be her work, however I found this lamp about 20 yrs ago, in Denver CO and its base is made of lead, if you are interested I will share a
    I will appreciate any information on it.

  4. I found your blog just today! I like it! I too spoke about Catharina on my blog. Are you interested in it?
    than again a lot of russian blogs speak about:

  5. Thanks so much for this informative post, Joseph! It helped me resolve a mystery in one of my Google+ Collections ( now I have a new interest in the works of Catherina Klein.

    1. (even if I don't seem to be able to spell her name correctly)