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Emil Van Hauth

VanHauth portrait of Grit Hegesa, 1925The paintings of the artist Emil van Hauth illustrate the Phaeton's 2012 edition of Still Brighter French. He was born Gustav Emil Hoffmann in 1899 in the Eifel region of Germany (near the Belgian border), the eldest son of a pharmacist, and said by The Studio magazine to be the grandson of a portrait painter to the Russian Court.
From age 16 he studied art at Darmstadt, at the Kunststudium in Munich, and at Paris, but his studies were interrupted in 1917 when he was called up to the German army. He served on the VanHauth selfportrait, 1930western front, where he was invalided in 1918, and he spent several years after the war in various military hospitals in Germany, before returning to art studies at Darmstadt and at the ceramics art school near Koblenz. In 1922, painting under the name Emil van Hauth, he was a founder member of the artistic community "Das Boot" ('The boat') at Koblenz, and around this time met his future wife, the dancer and actress Grit Hegesa [>]. They married in Berlin in 1925, the same year in which he painted the portrait of her [above right] that appears on the cover of Still Brighter French. This was exhibited at the Fine Art Grit Hegesa postcardExhibition of the State Academy in Berlin and was featured in 1926 in The Studio magazine, London, as representing current German art, with the description (not out of place in a Brighter French book):
'It shows a type of female youth, unknown until lately, but now to be found in all countries of the world.'
Grit Hegesa in 'Wahnsinn'['Madness']Grit Hegesa, a few years older than Emil, was already well known for her expressionist dancing, ​for her photographs in fashion magazines (Elegante Welt, in 1919-1921), and for her performances in 15 silent films from 1917 to 1922 (including [<< left] in Wahnsinn, 1919, with Conrad Veidt, and in Whitechapel in 1920). Born Margarethe Schmidt in the Rhineland, she had studied dancing and acting at Brighton before returning to Germany, where, at 16, she had a short-lived first marriage and divorce. Using the stage name Grit Hegesa, she went on to a performing career in Cologne and Berlin.
She too served in World War I—sent to the Netherlands by the Reich for morale-boosting appearances. A 1917 etching and a 1918 painting (both by Herman Bieling) of her dancing in Rotterdam are in the Theater Instituut Nederland.
VanHauth painting of Baron Iwar von Lücken, 1925After marrying in 1925, Emil and Grit lived in Berlin, associating with other artists such as George Grosz and Arthur Segal. Studies in Paris in 1927-1929 (the same years when H–T–R–'s first two Brighter French books had a 'succès fou' there) caused Emil's painting to develop in the style of Cézanne. In Berlin, he painted portraits and still-lifes, and Grit appeared in the 1929 silent film Fräulein Else. Emil was a member of the Berliner Secession modern art group, and was its last president before its closure by the authorities in 1933.
In the second world war, Emil's studio—and a very large part of his prime work—was destroyed in a bombing raid in 1943, after which the couple abandoned Berlin for the Eifel, Emil's boyhood home region. After the war they moved between Frankfurt and other German towns before settling in Munich in 1953, where Emil continued to paint until his death there (two years after Grit) in 1974.

[Text above © Copyright 2012 Phaeton Publishing.  
Van Hauth painting images © Delaisse-Kass, Hoffman-DeMuyser, DeMuyser-Kass & DeMuyser-Seyler family]

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