I love treasure hunting; searching for Rose memorabilia for the library. This time, at an antiques fair, the treasure discovered was a postcard album; a collection of stunning paintings, in a very full but disintegrating album. It appeared to have been collected with love and care by a cartologist during the early years of the 20th century. Not famous paintings but ones that had been commissioned by the postcard publishers of the day. The hundred plus paintings revealed many of the Cornish coast by H.B.Wimbush, portraits of old Scottish characters by H.J.Dobson, a number of unattributed still lifes of flowers and fruit and among others a few glorious paintings of roses and rose gardens.; the reason I bought the album.
Two of the stunning rose paintings I had not seen before. They obviously belonged together, featuring a similar subject, individual rose stems and buds and showing the same colour tones. Whenever I buy a postcard I like it to have the name of the artist or at least the publisher. If there are neither it has to be a really beautiful card. In this case there did not appear to be an artists’ name but the publisher was Stewart and Woolf, a company who produced cards between 1900 and 1940. The series number was 468. I soon discovered that my two cards had been published in 1906 or before but still did not know the artist.
I searched each card under the scrutiny of my magnifying glass and saw large blurred lettering to one side of one of the cards, ‘M Nyl’. I recognised the name from a set of postcards I had seen previously on a publishers website, not Stewart and Woolf but TuckDB. I returned to the website and found the set entitled ‘Fragrant Flowers’; six different cards, two of vases of roses and the remaining four, vases of other flowers. Beside each vase of flowers there were individual flowers that had fallen to the shelf. It was then I realised why my signature was large and blurred, the two paintings were a small part of a larger work. They were not part of either of the two paintings in this set and I have yet to discover from which paintings they were taken.
They could have been taken from one or two of many because Marie Nyl-Frosch (1857-1914) was a well known German painter of flowers. She was born in Munich and seems to have spent most of her life there, dying there too. One can only speculate why she died at the age of 57 in 1914 as I cannot find out any further information about her life and work. I know that her paintings, many of which are of roses, have been sold at auction houses, including Christies, throughout Europe and command prices between one and two thousand euros. They are beautiful works, usually roses or other flowers in a vase or container of some kind with additional detail around the base, either fallen flowers or ornaments. Two additions I have seen are a small framed silhouette and a model elephant.
This brings me to the reason for the title of this article. During my rose journey I have been compiling a list of professional artists who are known for painting flowers, particularly roses. This list now includes 115 artists. Although I know little about Marie Nyl-Frosch I have seen images of many of her paintings, which I adore, so will include her on my list. (She will be company for Catharina Klein, another painter for postcards from the same period who worked in Berlin. I wonder whether they knew of each other.) It is always good to discover another great artist who appreciates or appreciated the rose. I will continue to try to find out more about her and her work.