Berta Hummel was a famous German artist 1909 - 1946. She was also known as nun Maria Innocentia Hummel and was Sister of the Third Order of Saint Francis, Siessen Convent, Salgau, Germany, in the swabian alps. She is most famous for the artwork which was the inspiration for the Hummel figurines. Born in Massing, Bavaria, she grew up among a family of two brothers and three sisters in a home where music and art were a part of everyday life. She attended the Academy of Applied Arts in Munich in 1927 and entered the Franciscan Convent of Siessen in Bad Saulgau after she graduated in 1931. She spent her spare time painting pictures of children, which were made into popular postcards. Soon afterward, Franz Goebel, the owner of a porcelain company, saw the artwork. The convent granted him permission to make figurines based on Hummel's art. Goebel started production of the figurines under the authorization of the convent of Siessen and the first Hummel figurines were sold in 1935 and were an instant hit. . The figurines are all based on the drawings and paintings of children by sister Hummel and are made out of porcelain. The body is bisque fired, dipped in glaze, and painted using oil and turpentine based colors which contain metallic oxides as pigments.
In 1937, Sister Maria Innocentia Hummel published a painting titled "The Volunteers", which drew the enduring hatred of Adolf Hitler; one Nazi magazine wrote of her work: "there is no place in the ranks of German artists for the likes of her. No, the 'beloved Fatherland' cannot remain calm when Germany's youth are portrayed as brainless sissies."
Sister Hummel died at age 37 from tuberculosis. She was buried in the convent cemetery. Goebel, his team of artists, and the other nuns carried on her legacy through the figurines, all of which are based on her artwork. Even though many of the newer ones are dressed to look more contemporary, they are still popular and well-known all over the world.
Though much of the art was done in the 1930s, the newer figurines have adopted a more contemporary appearance. In addition to figurines of children, there are figurines of saints - a stylistic departure from the figurines of playful children. There are also figurines that depict cartoon characters like Bart Simpson and Snoopy.
Goebel announced on 2008-06-18 that the Hummel line was to be discontinued and production ceased as of October 2008. However on 2009-02-09 it was announced that Manufaktur Rodental GmbH, planned to resume M.I. Hummel production in February 2009. Rodental a newly founded company by investors, initially planned to start with around 30 employees.
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