Mathilda Lotz Biography

Mathilda Lotz





Matilda Lotz, painter, was born on 29 November 1858 in Franklin, Tennessee, the daughter of Johann and Margaretha (Grasz) Lotz. Her early years were spent in Franklin, but because the Lotz family was never able to recover financially in the aftermath of the Civil War, they migrated west, first to Memphis, Tennessee, for a brief time and then, traveling by covered wagon, on to California. According to J.T. Thompson of the Lotz House museum in Franklin, the Ku Klux Klan possibly chased the family out of Franklin. In the autumn of 1870, the Lotz family settled in San Jose, California and in 1874, Matilda enrolled at the California School of Design in San Francisco where she studied under Virgil Williams for six years. There she received the silver medal in oil painting in 1875 and the Avery gold medal in the same category in 1876 and 1877. After graduation in 1880, she traveled to Europe where she studied in Paris with Émile van Marcke de Lummen and Félix-Joseph Barrias. 

Much of her subsequent life was one of travel, frequently to complete painting commissions for members of society and royal families throughout Europe. Although she returned to the United States in 1886 and remained until 1888, she found Europe more appealing and spent varying periods in England, North Africa, the Far East, and the Middle East. Matilda and her Hungarian-born husband, Ference Blakovitz, were in Algeria when war erupted in February 1915 and they were interned in a prisoner of war camp by the French government. 

Although her western works comprise but a small portion of her total output, her painting commissions included portraits of George Hearst, the father of William Randolph Hearst, and the California Governor Leland Stanford, founder of Stanford University.

In Europe, her work was included in numerous Paris salons, and her paintings were exhibited at the Royal Academy in London, and in shows in Austria and Hungary. In the United States, her work was exhibited at the National Academy of Design in New York, the San Francisco Art Association, the California Midwinter International Exposition in San Francisco, the Golden Gate Memorial Museum (now known as the de Young Museum), and the California State Fair. Her work is represented in the collections of the Oakland Museum of California, the Milwaukee Art Musuem and the Lotz house in Franklin, Tennessee.

Matilda Lotz Blakovitz passed away on 21 February 1923 in Tata, Hungary.


This bio is in excerpt from Emerging From the Shadows: A Survey of Women Artists Working in California, 1860-1960, Maurine St. Gaudens, 2015. The four volumes provide in depth biographies on many women artists and it a must for the library of serious collectors.