Margarethe Maria Von Glehn Luther

Margarethe describes finding her art.                                                                       HOME


Julie Anna Saefftigen v. Glehn
Grandmamma Glehn (Julie) was a power house, as the American expression goes. She decided that I must exclusively wear embroidered white dresses. Every evening my hair was to be wound around curlers and then each morning the curls were to be shaped with a curling iron. I hated that of course, because it was so boring. She decided that I only ate a certain kind of chocolate and refused all gifts of other kinds of chocolate: " She won’t eat that". I was unhappy, because I certainly would have. Furthermore she was convinced that I had to be some kind of a Wunderkind, because there was so much talent in the family that it all just had to be condensed in my small person. When I was all of four years old I was to have painting lessons. Hence a well known painter, Clara Feodorovna Zeidler was summoned from St. Petersburg to develop my great talent. She only taught master classes. Child psychology had not evolved yet. The first lesson required that I should draw and then paint an autumnal chestnut leaf exactly and realistically. I erased and erased until the paper had holes in it; she then spent the rest of the lesson doing the task herself; but that meant "Blood and Tears" for me. For her last class Clara brought in a black felt hat with an upturned rim decorated with a bunch of cock feathers. Then she handed me a large white sheet of paper and a large piece of charcoal. It was the ugliest hat I had ever seen and I hated it. Well, trust a four-year old with a piece of coal and force her to draw a thing she hates with it !!!!! The coal ended up all over my white dress and on my face. When grandmother came into the room, her Forget-me-not blue eyes rolled out of their sockets. All my clothes were sent to the laundry, I myself was sent to the bathroom, and Clara Feodorovna went back to St. Petersburg.

My aunt Agnes, the pianist, was next: trying to teach me to make music. I soldiered on and made it up to Schumann’s "Happy Farmer" which I played so beautifully that the entire family left the room. I was a flop. My father had his turn when I turned seven years old. He posed a glass square ash tray in front of me and bade me draw it. I had no clue about perspective, and so everything repeated itself: I erased until holes appeared in the paper, but the ash tray obstinately refused to appear standing up, there always was one side dropping off. After an hour’s time my father came in to check my progress. He took a look at my desperate efforts and said angrily: " You did that very poorly". He took the ash tray and the drawing pad and withdrew to his room. I was a zero and no good and totally below average. A failure. And I continued to be that in his view. He had dreamed that I as a twelve- year old would be standing on a stage playing a violin concerto by Mozart. Instead I baked cakes in the sand box.

Agnes at the piano

Margarethe at age 8

I was a late bloomer. When as a nine years old I came to Zigahnen, I started to draw on my own. And I started to make up stories, telling them to Lotte at night. They were extremely dramatic, sad stories: the stage was littered with corpses of the heroes, I bawled at their tragic fates. My one comfort was to draw their burial sites. I remember a tomb by the sea with a simple wooden cross underneath a tree; there my hero rested and listened to the swell of the waves and the wind in the branches. Sometimes he rested in a white marble temple in a cypress garden or under a gothic arch carved into a rock with torches blazing in eternity and a guard of honor with drawn swords. I shed hot tears for my stories and the deaths of my heroes.


When I was 12 or 13 years old I saw a silhouette in a shop window in Marienwerder – I believe it was a Madonna. That turned out to be my fate. When we returned home to Zigahnen, I didn’t bother to take off my fur coat, but grabbed a scissor and some paper and began to cut a fairy, but she had no neck. Then I learned to cut in front of a mirror. So it went all my life long. I had to cut until this very day. This year I will celebrate my 60th anniversary. I have told this story many times in my silhouette lectures, and people have always been amused by it.
Margarethe at age 60