Wilhelm Hofelich (1882-1950)

Portrait Wilhelm Hofelich was born on August 5, 1882 during the parental summer stay in Bernried at Starnberg Lake. His father Ludwig was quite pleased - writes Wilhelm's mother in the Family Chronicle - about the birth of the first son. Ludwig educated him, and the younger son Arnold, with extremely severity and intimidation. In addition, such education came with the isolation of living at Starnberg Lake during vacation time.

Wilhelm was a versatile and talented child. From his mother, he inherited a talent for music, and from his father, the talent for drawing. In Munich he attended first an undenominational school and afterwards the Max- and Material Highschool. Wilhelm’s mother provided him with excellent training in music and gave him piano instruction.

Wilhelm, who was extremely conscientious and industrious, passed his university-entrance diploma with best marks in all subjects in 1901.

In the following years Wilhelm studied physics and mathematics at the Technical University of Munich and passed his exams in 1906 again with highest marks. He also attended an Educational Seminar course at the Theresien High School in Munich from 1906-07.

From 1910 -1913 he taught at the upper secondary school and the secondary school for girls in the Protestant/Evangelic community in Bucharest. At the same time, he also worked in the presidency of the local group of the "Dürerbund" for the spreading of German reproduction art in Romania and acted as a teacher and choir director for the care of German music in the school and in the German associations.

Bernried After his return to Germany in summer 1913, he continued to master his talents in composition and painting. His painting abilities had developed quite nicely on account of the intensive training with his father.

Journeys lead Wilhelm to Paris and northern France, to Venice, Rome and Naples, then to Berlin and in 1913 to Istanbul, Greece and Sicily. In particular his talent for the rendition of nature impressions and tendencies from memory continues to train now without actual intention.

Wilhelm explored his musical gifts by taking private instructions in music theory as well as by one year's attendance at conservatoire in Munich. There he had studied [counterpoint] with professor Friedrich Klose in 1907/08.

As the Hofelich Family Chronicle dates from the year 1914, it provides only information about Wilhelm up to the age of 32. From 1914 to 1918 Wilhelm worked as a lecturer in Schweinfurt (Bavaria, Lower Franconia) and from 1918 to 1920 in Landsberg (Upper Bavaria). From personal recordings I know, however, that Wilhelm increasingly suffered from a chronic illness from war-time during the 1920s. Finally, that illness lead to his early retirement. He dedicated himself from then on to private training activities and studies at the Munich academy of arts.

A newspaper clipping gives the next reference point from the year 1924. In an article about a painting exhibition at the Glass Palace in Munich, Wilhelm Hofelich received much recognition. His work "Zugspitze” (which is the highest mountain in Germany) in silvery nebula light dominated the hall with its large sized landscapes.

After a short marriage ended, Wilhelm remarried Lucie Betz from Stuttgart in 1928. The couple lived in Munich, but Lucie’s parents' house in Stuttgart-Kaltental also becomes a second home.

On November 1st 1933, Wilhelm Hofelich joined, in accordance with §4 of the 1. Regulation for the execution of the realm culture chamber law, as a member of the realm chamber of visual arts. In 1934, he issued a number of beautiful works in the Munich art association. And the "Munich Newspaper" praised his alpine landscapes, stating that he was "inheriting an obligating family tradition of the landscape painting."

Unlike his father Ludwig, who almost never issued paintings, Wilhelm showed his work to the public. However, the sale of such paintings was probably rather difficult, as evidenced by the fact that he asked the Stuttgart registration offices to waive a nominal fee when asking for his parents’ marriage certificate (to prove his lineage).

The "Munich Neueste Nachrichten" wrote on September 19th 1939 about Wilhelm Hofelich, that he taken over the good Munich painting tradition of the "Lier School". This became clear particularly in his early works. In his later works he would adhere to a rather loose way of painting, pursuant to which his winter paintings would benefit. His alpine representations, and above all the paintings "Benediktenwand" and "Hochvogel," receive much attention.

At the same time, the "Völkischer Beobachter" (Folkish Observer) reported on the exhibition in the Munich art association, where Wilhelm Hofelich was involved with 39 landscapes from the forests around Stuttgart and the mountains of Tyrol.

His glazed frost and winter paintings, full of atmosphere, completely and particularly convince. “Affectionately, he followed the brushes/scrubs and trees candied by flashing crystals of glazed frost, without ignoring thereby the colored harmony of the details. His landscapes are seen always large and colored very calmly from large surfaces composed."

At the beginning of World War II, Wilhelm was now 57 years old and lived with his wife in Munich's quarter Schwabing at Pündterplatz 1, and later in Hohenzollernstraße 37. There, his flat and his studio burn completely down after an air attack on July 12th 1944. As a result Wilhelm lost his entire property, including paintings and frameworks in the value of approx. 25.000,00 goldmark. His brother Arnold, who lived in Trostberg in the northern Chiemgau, accepted Wilhelm and Lucie as subtenants. But the accommodation with the brother was soon threatened. This seems clear based on a letter from Wilhelm to the housing office in Trostberg. One wants Arnold, who worked during the Nazi rule not politically and enriched in no way - as Wilhelm writes - to take the company-owned-apartment.

Thus, Wilhelm would lose the possibility of working on his paintings during the cold winter months. Given that he had lost all of his property, he didn’t have power (light) and heat. The loss of shelter was obviously much worse than the loss of his paintings.

For Wilhelm and his wife follow unsteady and poor years. Finally, the couple found lodging in Übersee in the Chiemgau, where Wilhelm dedicated himself again to landscape painting. Like his father, who traveled half his life between Munich and Bernried, Wilhelm did it during his last years between Übersee and Stuttgart. There, he issued his landscapes in the art galleries Schaller, Hirlinger and Valentin with good success.

At the beginning of 1950, Wilhelm's suffering from the war became strong again. On April 4th 1950, he died during a stay in Stuttgart.

Half a century later, I would encounter Wilhelm and Ludwig Hofelich through their work and start with my research and investigation into their works and lives.


© 2004-2019 Gabriele Wittfeld