/ Essays / 2007 / No.10: Encounter: Luise Duttenhofer and Therese Huber

Friederun Hardt-FriederichsEssay No.10November, 08 2007

Encounter: Luise Duttenhofer and Therese Huber

Reading, writing, cutting

Paper cutting of Therese Huber
Figure 1:
Paper cutting of Therese Huber
Luise Duttenhofer (1776-1829)
Paper, 9.5 x 8 cm

With friendly permission of Deutsches Literaturarchiv Marbach
All her life Luise Duttenhofer was forcefully drawn to art. In December 1829, close to the end of her life, she wrote about a stay in Munich: “With tears in my eyes I walked through the rooms of the academy where male and female students were sitting. Why wasn’t I allowed to be here! My youth was filled with longing for art instruction. Now it is too late. I wish I could gain more time, but the professor would only laugh at the old ’Thadädl‘ (foolish person).” (Note 1, p.21)
Obvious talent, enthusiasm for art, as well as a passionate drive, was not sufficient for Luise to reach her childhood dream to become an artist.
She was born on April 5, 1776, in Waiblingen as Christiane Luise (Louise) Hummel, daughter of the deacon Georg Bernhard Hummel and his wife Louise Hedwig, née Spittler. Both parents came from pastor families from Württemberg. By itself this can not be taken in a negative way but it brought along a limitation to traditional values within a family of Swabian pastors. The early death of her father (1779) caused her mother to move with Luise to Stuttgart to live with her grandparents, the preacher and prelate Jacob Friedrich Spittler and his wife Johanna Christine, née Bilfinger. Only a year later (1780) her grandfather also died, and consequently the young girl grew up with her mother and grandmother, without any siblings.

Her early inclination to draw was supported by her great-uncle, the prelate Heinrich Christoph Bilfinger, the brother of her grandmother, who saw to it that she received instruction in drawing. This joy did not last very long. He decided that further lessons were not justifiable within the scope of her higher education which focused on domestic activities and duties customary at that time. Therefore she was denied the education to become an artist that she had longed for. Without sponsors it was not possible during that time.

Let us think back to the late 18th and early 19th century, the time of Schiller und Goethe. Although it was customary to instruct daughters of the middle class in literature, music and art, it happened on a modest level in the way of book discussions, playing music at home, and visiting exhibitions. The amateur way of composing or playing music, writing poetry, and painting or drawing was usually a private undertaking even if it served high demands. These activities were mostly done within the family or a circle of close friends and rarely received public recognition. For modern women today it is hard to imagine living within the narrow limits that young girls were traditionally accustomed to at that time. Women who are privileged enough to live in western cultures today have personal and professional development opportunities, which are even expected from them by contemporary society as a measure of their social status. Consequently they may perceive the former social situation of women to be strange.
Our respect and admiration may increase for those women who tried to do their best under the given circumstances, grasping each opportunity to realize their dreams or come closer to them, and not limit their aspirations entirely to domestic and marital duties.

At that time there were examples of great women, such as the painter Angelika Kauffmann (1741-1807). As a talented daughter of a painter, she received the necessary art education and was able to develop into a notable, famous painter in Europe during her time. While living in Rome Luise Duttenhofer had the opportunity to meet this widely admired artist.

Not every woman talented in art was able to follow this path. She may have been hindered by family circumstances, financial insecurities, perhaps lack of courage or imagination to overcome socially fixed limits.

Copper plate engraver Christian Friedrich Traugott Duttenhofer

Marriage in 1804 to Christian Friedrich Traugott Duttenhofer, her cousin two years her elder who also came from a pastor’s family, was perhaps a lucky (sought after?) chance that brought her into the vicinity of the art she so ardently loved. With him, whom she called her “family friend,” she could probably find understanding and support for her interests in art.

Duttenhofer studied at the Dresden and Vienna Academy and socialized with the artists of his time. After the wedding the young couple traveled to Rome where Duttenhofer continued his studies. Luise used her stay in Rome to further her art education, despite the birth of her first son Carl Aurel; he died soon after. After their return from Rome the couple settled in Stuttgart where Duttenhofer worked as an engraver for reproductions of drawings, paintings, and architectural designs. These engravings enabled the spread and publication of art works amongst the educated middle class. After 1828 he received a professorship at the Art Academy of Stuttgart. Duttenhofer was obviously a qualified engraver and an expert in his field; however he likely lacked artistic inspiration of his own. For example he worked on the engravings of Sulpiz Boisserée, the history and description of the cathedral of Cologne (1823-32).

Before the invention of photography the works of great artists were reproduced as copper plate engravings which offered anyone interested in art the opportunity to familiarize themselves with important works of art at a reasonable price.

Silhouettes and the art of paper cutting (Scherenschnitt)

With great passion and skill Luise Duttenhofer devoted herself to paper cutting designs. It offered her access to the world of art, as well as a way to express herself artistically.
The Scherenschnitt, “scissor cut,” is a craft done simply with paper and scissors. Originally it was done in China and it also has roots in Persia. In Europe the cutting of entire figures and scenes from parchment with a knife was already common in the 17th century, and it was developed further with paper and scissors in the following century. Paper cuttings or “lace pictures” were made out of white paper with floral and ornamental patterns using a fold and cut technique. They served as decorative frames for images of saints of the Catholic Church until the end of the 19th century.

In the 18th century the art of paper cutting reached its peak. It was further helped along by silhouettes, the cut outline of a person’s shadow, which had become a popular occupation within bourgeois and aristocratic circles. The subject posed in front of a light source (candle) so that his or her profile cast a shadow on a vertical white background. The clear outline of the profile was transferred onto paper and the shape was filled in with black ink. In this way it was possible to produce a portrait-like image of a person in a playful manner and at a reasonable price. These profile views, often done in the form of a bust, later also as a full figure, were scaled down with the help of a pantograph or a camera obscura. The shape was painted black, cut out, and pasted onto white paper. Another method was to cut them directly from black paper, and use the pattern to make a copper plate engraving or etching. In this way multiple copies could be printed. The artist was striving to portray the model naturalistically and follow the contours closely, rather then aim at personal expression. These shadowgraphs were even used in the pseudo scientific interpretation of character and mind (compare Johann Caspar Lavater, Physiognomische Fragmente zur Beförderung der Menschenkenntnis und Menschenliebe, 4 vol., 1775-1778).
The term silhouette dates back to Marquis Etienne de Silhouette, the French minister of finance of Louis XIV, since he was content to decorate his castle with shadowgraphs in order to cut costs.

However the art of paper cutting, especially the free interpretation of a motif, the composition of a genre scene, the sure placement of line and shape on the black paper, and interior cuts and punctures demanded artistic talent, a sure hand, and above all a good eye. As one can see from her paper cuttings, Luise Duttenhofer possessed all of these talents to a great extent. It is not known when she turned to this form of art, although it is known that she may have cut out the patterns of church windows at a young age.
Given that in the educated middle class she grew up in, the cutting of silhouettes and perhaps also paper cutting designs surely were common, we can assume that she received inspiration in this environment.
Since she was not granted the adequate art education she had wished for, she took up paper cutting, which I would like to label here as the “little sister” of fine art. For this activity one needs mainly paper and scissors, it requires little space, and is not expensive. Yet all rules of fine art apply to the art of paper cutting which has to rely solely on shape and contour. Perspective can only be shown to a small degree. Luise tried to create three dimensional space with the help of frames and floor patterns done in perspective. The relief-like patterns which she embossed from the back side show the same intention. But the art of paper cutting is and remains a two dimensional technique. In addition Luise had to forego working with color. Sometimes designs were cut out of white paper, called “lace pictures” as mentioned above, and affixed to black paper, although they lost some of their clarity as a result. Luise tried to fix this problem by pasting black silhouettes onto colored paper, which was however at that time difficult to obtain and also costly. The colored background may have agreed with the fashion of the time. The light pink color (or is the paper faded?) was conceivably influenced by the reddish clay color of antique vases that Luise may have seen in Rome.

Luise Duttenhofer was known for her fast working habits which can also be concluded by the multitude of her existing works. Usually she cut freehand, without a sketch on the back of the paper. The mirror image of letters shows that at times she did need to trace though since she cut from the back (white) side of the paper. We do not know why she did not draw out the mirror images of letters on the back so that they would be correct from the back. Usually the cutting was done from the back on the white side of the paper following an outline; hence a mirror image is characteristic for paper cuttings. Luise even worked from two layers of paper in order to obtain two equal mirror imaged copies. For larger compositions she combined several parts.


In addition to silhouettes, which Luise was able to cut freehand in a lifelike manner, we also find numerous scenes with entire figures depicting people in their domestic environment or in landscapes. Often the figures show attributes assigning them to their class or profession. In accordance with Luise’s place in society she preferred domestic scenes, interiors, children, and flowers. She also chose motifs from mythology, Christian tradition, literature, and fairy tales, besides plant life, animals, arabesques, and ornaments. Apparently she also depicted important events of her life. Additionally she received stimulation from her circle of friends and from meeting culturally inclined people in reading groups.
Evidently paper cutting was not only an enjoyable activity for Luise Duttenhofer, but also a serious concern that she strove to develop intensively. Although Luise Duttenhofer had sufficient domestic help for someone of her social class, one wonders when she might have accomplished the wealth of paper cuttings we know of. In nearly regular intervals she gave birth to seven children of whom only three lived to be adults:
In 1807 a daughter named Maria Luise, later to be married to Christian Friedrich August Tafel; in 1810 a son named Friedrich Martin, who became a horse veterinarian for the government; and in 1812 a son named Anton Raphael, who became a copper plate engraver like his father.
Initially Luise practiced the art of paper cutting for herself to satisfy her longing for creativity. Nevertheless she received a modest measure of public recognition. She generously gave away paper cuts to friends and acquaintances, for example to Ludwig Uhland, Johann Karl Ludwig Schorn, Eduard Mörike and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. She knew to keep one of the doubles of her small black works of art. Due to these circumstances a considerable part of her work has been kept in the family estate and was given by the heirs to the archive of literature in Marbach. Part of her work is known to be privately owned; additional paper cuttings (unrecognized?) may have been preserved. The small circle of recipients was full of praise and admiration: a letter from 1825 by Friedrich von Matthisson to J. Ch. Fr. Haug says, “After supper we looked at my portfolio containing drawings by Mind, paper cuttings by Duttenhofer and other works on paper. The paper cuttings of the only female artist did not receive less admiration and did not get less approval than the most accomplished paintings and drawings of the bears and cats-Raphael.” (Note 1, p.25)

In 1812 Luise Duttenhofer’s work was presented to the public for the first time in an exhibition of her paper cuttings in Stuttgart. In the “Morgenblatt für gebildete Stände” Heinrich Rapp writes on June 5th, 1812: “Mad. Duttenhofer who, due to her inborn talent, has reached great virtuosity in freehand cutting, is showing some extremely delicate allegorical arabesques” (Note 1, p.23). In 1824 another exhibition of her paper cuttings followed. In the “Kunstblatt” supplement of the “Morgenblatt” Ludwig Schorn writes on Nov. 1st, 1824, “We commemorate the beautiful compositions cut out of black paper by Luise Duttenhofer. Although the shadow images show only the outline of the motifs they do so with such a wealth of inventiveness, and are executed with such delicacy, that the imagination can easily substitute the missing elements. The arabesques are treated with exquisite taste and delicacy, so that they convey a special charm with their fine and exact execution” (Note 1, p.25). In 1821 illustrations after paper cuttings by Luise were published in Christian Gottlob Vischer’s “Lautentöne. A collection of lyrical poems.” They helped to increase her fame.

In 1824 the “Morgenblatt für gebildete Stände” announced an invitation to create an illustration for Goethe’s translation of “Charon,” a Modern Greek poem. Luise Duttenhofer made a paper cut design with her interpretation of the poem which was sent to Goethe outside the competition since, as a woman, she did not want to compete with male artists. Goethe asked Heinrich Meyer to write his very positive review:
“Like a cheerful epilogue these serious efforts are followed by a small picture cut neatly out of black paper by a lady gifted with taste and skill. /…/ the figures in this work of art are all lively animated, for the most part of graceful gesture, and well drawn. Furthermore the composition deserves praise, because the space is well balanced, no place is cluttered or empty. Of course a work of this kind does not allow groups of figures close together, since the figures must, for the sake of clarity, be distant from each other, except for a few points of contact.” (Note 1, p. 30) Luise could not have hoped for better praise, and this coming from one of the greatest: Goethe!

Continuing art education

The drawing lessons in her childhood certainly helped her with the interpretation of her ideas. Until the end of her life Luise Duttenhofer did not tire of taking every opportunity for the advancement of her artistic skills, especially to practice drawing and train her eye by looking at art.

During her stay in Rome she was able to learn from the art treasures there. Later she apparently used every available possibility for deepening her artistic skills. The sculptor Johann Heinrich Dannecker in Stuttgart provided her with support. She was allowed to draw in his studio and in his collection of classical antiquities. Although in 1828 she wrote somewhat ungratefully from Munich regarding the possibility of drawing at the academy: “In this room full of junk on Danneker’s first floor one is not able to draw /classical antiquities/ properly” (Note 1, p.19). From her letters from Munich, since other sources are missing, we see directly how determinedly and persistently she pursued this opportunity to continue her education in drawing. She visited the library there and was able to convince the custodian of her serious intentions, so that “he gave her permission to come” whenever she wanted. Nevertheless she had to obtain permission for her visits and the use of the library from Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling, philosopher, and Ludwig Schorn, art historian. The same is true for the academy of which she assumed that “only professional artists” were allowed to draw. She knew that in both institutions “it needs more work” (Note 1, p.19) in order to satisfy her thirst for knowledge. She used all possible connections with prominent gentlemen like Ludwig Schorn who edited the journal of the Cottaschen “Morgenblatt” in Stuttgart, and was professor in Munich from 1826 on. Luise easily succeeded in ”putting in a good word” “for that purpose” (Note 1, p.21). With great pleasure Luise looked at Tizian’s art work in the collection for engravings; she asked specifically for pieces with flowers, and judged them. Full of happiness she wrote about herself that now she had everything she needed and that she was completely content.

From these few examples we see how immense her wish was for deepening her knowledge in art; we also learn that she had a considerable knowledge prior to that. We perceive the intensity of her striving for perfecting her drawing skills by her practice of copying the masters. With great determination she followed her goals, while knowing that her time for a career in art had run out.
Unfortunately she could not apply the new knowledge she gained in Munich during her 6-month stay to her paper cuttings. After her return she died on May 6, 1829, at the age of 53.
Luise was by no means fixated on art but also occupied herself with history, archaeology, mythology, and literature. She attended book discussion groups in Stuttgart and participated actively in discussions. The educated middle class in Stuttgart was of modest size; its members knew and met with each other and exchanged ideas. The periodic book discussion groups in the house of councilor August Hartmann were a cultural center. One also met at the home of his son-in-law Georg Reinbek’s, a man of letters and secondary school professor, or at the house of Minister Wangenheim. In this way Luise Duttenhofer received considerable inspiration for her artistry in paper cutting, and a good many of her contemporaries found themselves cut out of black paper. Therese Huber was one of them.

Paper cutting of Therese Huber
Figure 2:
Paper cutting of Therese Huber
Luise Duttenhofer (1776-1829)
Paper, 17.3 x 20.7 cm

With friendly permission of Deutsches Literaturarchiv Marbach

Meeting Therese Huber

On November 22, 1816, Therese Huber wrote to Johann Gotthard von Reinhold about the regular get-togethers in which she named “the wife of the copper plate engraver Duttenhofer” among the persons present. Naturally the two women had met often and regularly at the above mentioned book discussion groups. Therefore images in form of paper cuts exist of a reading and a writing woman; of a woman, Therese Huber, who did read and write professionally in those days!

Let us have a look at these two undated paper cuttings (Note 2):
In the German Literary Archive in Marbach there are two paper cuttings that are labeled “Therese Huber”, but obviously in different writing. On the smaller paper cut on a stained paper (Illustration 1) the name is written carefully in big Roman letters under the image, while the name assigned to the larger paper cut (Illustration 2) is written in German script at the top edge of the page. The name written in German script has no resemblance to the handwriting in a copy of a letter by Luise Duttenhofer from 1828 (Note 1, p.17). The authors of the handwriting could possibly be discovered by comparing other preserved writings.

In the small paper cut, only 8 cm high and 9.5 cm wide, a woman is sitting slightly bent forward holding a quill, ready to write. Sheets of paper and a container with ink are placed in front of her, and behind them is a thick closed book. Apparently the woman is depicted in the middle of her work, namely writing. According to the fashion of the time she is wearing a bonnet with a bow at the top of her head, a short cape as well as a long dress with long sleeves. Table and chair are cut with great simplicity.
The larger paper cut, 20.7 cm high and 17.3 cm wide, was originally pasted on yellow paper that has faded and become stained. Here the woman is depicted reading intently. She is sitting on a chair holding the open book closely in front of her eyes (Note 2, p. 123). Apparently her eyesight was not very good any more at that time. She is also wearing a bonnet and seems to be dressed in a similar way.
Here Luise Duttenhofer did not depict the reading woman sitting directly at the table, but in front and slightly to the side of it. The table resembles a long dining table rather than a desk. Various objects are lying on the table. In the middle there is a shallow, rather large bowl in which three smaller bowls are contained, and a thick, large book. At the end of the table opposite the reading woman is a tall vase with a sturdy stem, filled with a bouquet of long flowers.
The masterful paper cutter obtained a certain three dimensional effect depicting table and figure on a tile floor with its pattern shown in perspective which creates the illusion of depth.

Let us have a closer look. Do both paper cuttings show the same person?
How realistically did Luise Duttenhofer cut her portraits? Were they made as a silhouette using a shadow image, or did she cut freehand from memory, at times in a mocking and caricaturing way?
Let us look at the traced and enlarged profiles of the two women portraits. They seem to have little resemblance. The nose of the writing woman is long and pointed. Her upper lip is drawn back while her lower lip is pushed forward quite a bit. The reading woman has a strong curved nose. Her mouth area recedes with a strong protruding chin.
What are the reasons for those differences? May be the dissimilarities are not important and creating a likeness was not the point? May be it was sufficient to show the subject in her personal and professional life with attributes associated to it? After all can one conclude from the names on the paper cuts that they are depicting the same person?
We do not know if the identity of the portrayed persons is the same. Unfortunately a painted portrait of Therese Huber is of no help in this case since it shows her in frontal view. At least it would be an idea to compare silhouettes of friends and acquaintances by Luise Duttenhofer to existing painted or engraved portraits.

Since we don’t have proof to the contrary, let’s assume the identity of Therese Huber in both, the reading and the writing woman.

Details of figure 1 and 2
Figure 3:
left: Details of figure 1
right: Details of figure 2

Therese Huber

Researching the life of this woman, who was unusual for her times, one notices that it was much more colorful than the life of Luise Duttenhofer. On the one hand they are comparable in certain aspects. They both came from the educated middle class and had a longing for art and intellectual activities. As usual in their time they had a number of pregnancies with births as well as deaths of their infants. They even died in the same year. On the other hand Therese Huber received not only a considerable salary for her work as editor and writer, but also a good measure of publicity, fame, and recognition. In addition Therese Huber did not seem to respect the expected conduct of a bourgeois woman of her time. She moved around following her own rules and overstepped established borders at her own will, and not without success. But I am getting ahead of myself.
Tracing the eventful life of Therese Huber in an era of political changes and wars, one can only be astonished by her writings and editorial accomplishments. She seemed to be always pregnant. Birth and death of her children were taking turns; only four of her ten children lived to be adults! Her life was faceted and well documented. An almost continuous change of place did not allow her to become settled. Many short trips and long stays in foreign places marked her way. Despite private and financial difficulties she managed to entertain a large circle of friends and acquaintances. We can see this clearly from visits and return visits and her enormous correspondence (Note 4) with important people of her time. An extensive amount of secondary literature exists, and there is a long list of her essays, novels, short stories, and travelogues.

Here is just a brief outline of Therese Huber’s life and its stages.
Therese Huber was born on May 7, 1764, as daughter of Christian Gottlob Huber, classical philologist in Göttingen, and his wife Therese, née Weiss. At a young age she lost her mother. Since her father remarried she was educated in a French boarding school in Hannover. In 1785 she married Georg Forster, a young and famous professor from Kassel.

Georg Forster (1754-1794)

Forster was a German naturalist, ethnologist, travel writer, journalist, essayist, and revolutionary. At the age of only 17 he participated as a draftsman in the second sailing expedition around the world by James Cook (1772-1775), together with his father Johann Reinhold Forster, naturalist and protestant Lutheran pastor. Georg’s father had already taken him on long expeditions as a ten year old boy. Georg Forster made important contributions to the comparative studies of the countries and peoples of the South-Sea. He was one of the originators of scientifically based travel documentaries. As a German Jacobin he belonged to the protagonists of the short lived Mainz Republic.


With Forster the young Therese moved to Wilna where he had received a position as professor. In 1786 she gave birth to her first daughter, Therese. The following year the family moved to Göttingen. Marriage with the versatile scientist and naturalist did not work well. There were quarrels, separations, and reconciliations. A second daughter, Claire, was born in 1789. Forster accepted a position as librarian in Mainz and was followed by his family.

In the meantime the couple had befriended Ludwig Ferdinand Huber, Therese’s later husband. When Forster left for half a year on a journey with Alexander von Humboldt (Lower Rhine, Holland, France), Therese started an affair with Huber. Luise, a daughter born in 1791, presumably Huber’s daughter, died the same year. In the following year Georg was born. He could have been Forster’s or Huber’s son; he also died that year.

Fleeing Germany

Therese Huber and her daughters fled from Mainz to escape the events of the war with Napoleon. First they went to Strasbourg, then on to Neufchâtel, where Huber followed.
Therese met her husband Georg Forster a last time in Travers. During the divorce proceedings Forster died of pneumonia in 1794, lonely and without means in Paris. He had been sent to Paris as a deputy of the Mainz Republic to make propaganda for the accession of the Mainz Republic to the French Republic. For political reasons a return to Germany was impossible for him.

The same year Therese married Ludwig Ferdinand Huber.

Ludwig Ferdinand Huber (1764-1804)

Ludwig Ferdinand Huber was a well-known German author, translator and journalist. He was born in Paris as the son of Michael Huber (1727-1804) who had made the German literature of his era known in France. He was especially fascinated by French and English literature which he also translated. In 1787 he became secretary of the Saxon legation in Mainz, where he stayed until the French occupation in 1792. There he was known as an excellent democrat and revolutionary, like Forster. In 1798 he became editor of the Allgemeine Zeitung in Stuttgart published by Cotta. When the newspaper was banned in Württemberg he transferred it to Neu-Ulm in Bavaria and was appointed councilor for education in the newly established administrative district Swabia of the state Bavaria. Shortly thereafter he died, on December 24, 1804.

Literary career and editorial work

The literary career of Therese Huber began during the time of her escape from Mainz to Switzerland around 1793. Despite births and deaths of children and further moves to Bôle, Tübingen and Stoffenried, Therese Huber was able to create an extensive literary output. Hence in the years after 1793 her works were continuously published; in addition she brought out the work of Ludwig Ferdinand Huber after his death in 1804.

Beginning in 1807 she was on the staff of Johann Friedrich Cotta’s “Stuttgarter Morgenblatt für gebildete Stände” for many years. However the publisher asked the widow, who also had to support six children, that she publishes her columns anonymously or under a male pseudonym. As a female writer she was familiar with this renunciation of her identity, since in previous years she had already published her novels and short stories under the name of her husband.
She proved to be a capable editor and was able to bring out her perspective as a woman. Her co-workers, with whom she only corresponded in writing, probably did not know of her identity as a woman. In 1816 she became the designated editor for Cotta’s newly founded “Kunstblatt,” a supplement to the “Morgenblatt.” At first she cooperated with Friedrich Haug to do the editorial work, but he did not like to work with or under a woman and left the publishing-house. Later Therese Huber was solely responsible. From 1817 on she changed part of the “Kunstblatt” to make it more strongly oriented toward general culture. From 1823 on she was assisted by Georg von Cotta, the publisher’s son. This caused disagreements and his father withdrew the editorship from her. Thus, having moved to Augsburg in the meantime, she published only reviews and essays in the “Morgenblatt.”
After a brief illness Therese Huber died in Augsburg, almost blind.
Based on the reaction of Friedrich Haug, who did not want to work under a woman, we can see how much Therese Huber had to fight for professional recognition. She published her approximately sixty short stories and novels under the name of her second husband, and even her first book “Emilie” (1813) appeared under his name. This fact illuminates the situation of writing women of that time. As late as 1819, when she first published her short stories under her own name, she still thought she had to verbosely apologize for it!

The biographies of a paper cutting artist and an author and editor outlined here, may be viewed as examples of a female lifestyle in a time of political as well as social change in Germany in the late 18th and early 19th century. They illuminate the situation of that time which was socially and economically determined by family and class, and in which educated women of the middle class had to find their way around. They could only dream of a self-determined life, assuming that this idea would have been suitable at that time at all.

The paper cuttings of Luise Duttenhofer are an apt example for the theme established here, investigating the representation of reading or writing women in art. The example not only shows a reading or writing woman, but we also know that in this specific case we are actually dealing with a woman who is not only holding a book or a quill in her hand, but who even supported herself and her children with these pursuits. Book and quill are being used as attributes for a specific person in order to demonstrate her profession, and not to achieve a pleasing image or even to hold the model in a quiet pose. The book and quill, often used as metaphor for education and learning related to the representation of a person, receive their original meaning again. They are not metaphor, not decoration, but indispensable tools for the educated woman portrayed.

[ translated by Hanne Niederhausen ]

Note 1
All quotes are from: Marbacher Magazin, 13/1979, Die Scherenschneiderin Luise Duttenhofer, compiled by Gertrud Fiege
Note 2
Otto Günther (editor), Aus klassischer Zeit, Scherenschnitte von Luise Duttenhofer, 1937
In the silhouette Luise Duttenhofer portrayed Miss Hartmann sitting on a chair and reading, holding the book close to her face.
Gertrud Fiege (introduction), Scherenschnitte von Luise Duttenhofer, 1978
Note 3
In 1911, 1933, and 1989 the German Literary Archive was given 400 paper cuttings by the heirs of Luise Duttenhofer. In addition to this important collection, the archive in Marbach received another valuable work from the family estate in March 2006. This paper cut, which shows three playing children in a round area in the center, is so far the only known work signed and dated on the back “Louise Duttenhofer geb. Hummel: fec: 1813”
Note 4
Therese Huber, Briefe, edited by Magdalene Heuser, Max Niemeyer Verlag. The letters of Therese Huber in a planned edition of nine volumes.

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