Henriette Schmidt-Bonn Biography

Henriette Schmidt-Bonn




Painter and printmaker Henriette Schmidt-Bonn was born Henriette Schmidt on December 5, 1873 in Bonn, former Rhineland Province, Kingdom of Prussia (now Westfalia and North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany). Her father Johann Martin Schmidt was a prosperous fur trader, married to Wilhelmine Charlotte Schmidt (nee Peters). Both Henriette and her brother Wolfgang were drawn to the arts and were encouraged by their parents to pursue their passions. Henriette, being a woman, was not permitted to attend formal university at the time; instead, she enrolled in 1900 into the woman-owned Becker-Leber school of painting, founded by painter and illustrator Sophie Leber and operated by Leber and her husband, printmaker Hans Josef Becker.

Wanting to improve her skills, Schmidt-Bonn then trained at the studio of artist Heinrich Otto in Dusseldorf from 1903 to 1905, one of the first women to do so when Otto opened the first workshop in Dusseldorf to accept both men and women. Otto then opened the Women's Painting School Dusseldorf, at which Schmidt-Bonn was accepted as one of his star pupils. Upon graduating in 1907 she returned to Bonn and moved in with her widowed mother, and set up her own printmaking studio.

Through Otto she was introduced to the Schwalm Willingshausen artists colony, with whom she was associated through the mid 1910s. Reaching out to sculptor Karl Menser, they founded the Bonner Artists Association, which would eventually include painter Carl Thoedor Asen, Toni Wolter, Willy Fassbender, and others. They held exhibitions in the spring of 1908, '09, '10, '11, '13, and '14. However, the onset of the First World War ended these exhibitions. 

Schmidt-Bonn returned permanently to Dusseldorf in 1912, formally adding the "Bonn" to her last name as many Germans at the time would do when they wanted to indicate the origin of their artistic style. There, she built a reputation as a leading Bonn printmaker, as well as an accomplished regionalist painter. She lived in Dusseldorf until bombing during World War II destroyed her apartment in 1942. She then relocated to Willingshausen, where she died on April 27, 1946, from a stroke. 

In 2002 a retrospective of her work was held by the Peter-Schwingen-Gesellschaft foundation, and in 2009 the Stadtmuseum Bonn published the Henriette Schmidt-Bonn catalogue raisonne of her prints. A more thorough account her life and career canbe found here.