Edith Willumsen

Edith Willumsen was a Danish sculptor born on January 1, 1875 in Aalborg, Denmark. As a young girl she was educated at the Drawing and Design School for Women, directed by Charlotte Klein, and then at Charlotte Sodes and Julie Meldahl's drawing and painting school. She was employed by Bing & Grøndahl, where she painted underglaze and overglaze on porcelain and later worked independently. Here, in 1897, she met her future husband, the sculptor J.F. Willumsen, who had been hired as artistic director to provide new inspiration to the staff.

Around the turn of the century, Edith Willumsen traveled to the United States, where she spent her first year working for a small ceramics factory in Zonesville, Ohio. She then traveled to Chicago, where she was employed as a draughtswoman in a department store. When working conditions were unsatisfactory, she quit and took a job as an artistic advisor to the glass artist L. Tiffany in New York. Tiffany, who had been experimenting with the production of colored glass for many years, had begun building ceramic kilns, and Edith Willumsen was commissioned to design and model ceramic kilns. At the same time she worked and experimented with glazes. Her stay in New York was short, however, and in 1902 she traveled with J.F.W. to the Pyrenees, Italy and Switzerland. After her wedding the following year, Edith Willumsen traveled to Paris, where she briefly worked with enamel for Bing & Grøndahl.

Under her husband's guidance, Edith Willumsen began working on independent projects. One of her first bronze sculptures was a portrait bust of her husband from 1904. This was followed by bronze statues, which she exhibited at Charlottenborg's spring exhibition. She herself created a large number of works in colored wax, which are characterized by a highly realistic, almost expressionistic depiction.

Edith Willumsen helped her husband both practically and artistically. Thanks to a strong personality, she also managed to work on her own art, unlike many of the self-sacrificing artist's wives of the time. Until 1928, when the couple's relationship ended, she was often portrayed by her husband. Her distinctive face can be recognized in several of his paintings, including the famous 'A Mountaineer's Wife' from 1904. It depicts a free and strong woman as a mountaineer, but also as a ruler of the world, surrounded by the sunlight and the grandeur of the mountains. Edith Willumsen died on November 1, 1963 in Copenhagen, Denmark.