The sculptor Harriet Ellen von Rathlef-Keilmann
1886 in Riga- 1933 in Berlin

Harriet Keilmann at the age of  18 in Riga
Photo studio Carl Anton Schulz. Nicolai Boulevard 3. Riga

Click on pictures to see a larger Version

Harriet Keilmann was born on  December 22, 1886 in Riga.
She was the daughter of the dentist and honourable citizen Isidor/ Sidor Isaak Noak Philipp Keilmann, nee Sept. 19, 1856 in Riga and his cousin the dentist, Eugenie Jakobovna Keilmann, nee Kantorowitz.

Harriet Keilmann birth certificate
" On December 22, 1886 Harriet was born to the dentist Isidore Pilippovich Keilmann and
 Evguenia( Eugenie) Jakovlena"

Harriet Keilmann. Riga 1890

Harriet's Parents: Isidore Keilman1925)   Eugenie Jakobovna Keilmann, nee Kantorowitz( 1910)

Harriet Keilmann's brothers: from left to right: Nikolai Alexander Sidorovich Keilmann,
Paul Otto Sidorovich Keilmann and
Harriet Ellen Siderovna Keilmann, Riga 1904

Already since her early youth she had an artistic vocation clearly in mind. Already at the age of 21 years she participated in art exhibitions in the Baltic Art Society in Riga.

Harriet Rathlef- Keilmann." Tanzende Frau".
 1906( source)

In 1906/07, Harriet was an art student at the school of  painting and sculpture, Lewin-Funcke( 1866- 1937)  school in Berlin

The sculptor Arthur Lewin-Funcke and a sculpture of him made by Harriet Ellen von Rathlef-Keilmann in 1906/1907.

and one semester at an art school, 1907/08 in Munich.

Riga. The Academy of Arts, built in 1902-1905 by architect W.Bockslaff,
 together with sculptor A.Folz and stained glass master E.Tode

Ducks relief in unglazed ceramics made by Harriet Keilmann, Riga 1908

On March16/1908 Harald von  Rathlef and Harriet Keilman married at the Reformed Protestant Church in Riga.

On March16/1908 Marriage of  Karl Voldemar Harald von  Rathlef( age 30), born in Lachmes( Lahmuse, Estonia) to Gustav Ludwig von Rathlef( 1847 - 1928) and Martha von Shultz(1854 - 1923) and Harriet Ellen Keilman( age 21), the daughter of Isidore Philipp Keilmann and Evguenia Kanterovich."( source. Page160) 

Between 1909 and 1914 Harald and Harriet von Rathlef  had four children. Monika(  ( born 1909, died 1959), Marianne ( born 1910,  died 24 October 2008 in Santiago de Chile, Chile Rep.), Liselotte ( born 1912, died 1998 in Barcelona, ​​Spain) and Karl-Ludwig Nikolai ( born 1914, died 1946).( source). Harald von Rathlef passed away on 15 Jul 1944 in Königsberg, Puerto Rico, USA.

 In 1913 she took part in an exhibition in Haus der Frau ("House of Women") in Leipzig.

Leipzig. " Haus der frau"

At the breakout of the First World War her husband Harald von Rathlef, who was a leutenant in the Regiment of the Alexander Hussars, was sent to the front in Finland. She stayed with her children living with her youngest brother in Russia.( source)

Harriet's youngest brother the Nikolai Alexander Sidorovich Keilmann
 as an emigrant in Bern/Swiss in1936

 and a sculpture of him made by his sister  in 1915/ 1916
( Nikolai Keilman was killed on March 30, 1942 in the KZ Stutthof/Danzig)

The family escaped revolutionary Russia from Riga to Berlin on Dec. 28, 1918. That way she was able to escape the consequences of the Bolshevik Revolution. Already in 1919 she studied at the Weimar Art University, and was student in the art class of  German-Jewish sculptor, Prof. Richard Engelmann(1868-1966).

Prof. Richard Engelmann and a sculpture of him made by Harriet Ellen von Rathlef-Keilmann in 1919

In 1922 she got a divorce from her husband, because she saw no future with him for her artistic carreer. The following decade till her death was filled with activities, urges to create and social and cultural engagements.( source)

Pair of young rabbits sculpture made in ceramic by Harriet von Rathlef-Keilmann
 executed in porcelain by Rosenthal Selb, 1921

Harriet von Rathlef-Keilmann into her Sculpture Workshop
 in Berlin-Schoeneberg, 1929 and a  wooden Sculpture:
“Lovers”, Berlin, 1927

Before that she received, on the recommendation of Walter Gropius, a tuition-free place at the school. But since her Professor Engelmann, together with some other old professors withdrew from the Bauhaus, she also left with them. In the year 1923 she went to Berlin-Charlottenburg. She moved there into an attic atelier of a large house with a garden, in the Kantstrasse 77.

Harriet sculpting " Mädchen mit Ball" in her atelier. 1932.( source)

 This place became her starting point for her new artistic work, with taking part in exhibitions in many cities.( source)

Click on this photo" Sitzendes Mädchen"( "Sitting girl")   to see the lost artworks from Harriet.
Some of her sculptures and grafiks were served by her two daughters Monika and Liselotte and by some artist friends after her death. Some were sold by the bailiff (Gerichtsvollzieher), cause Harriet had Rent arrears. After Jan. 30, 1933 she couldn't sell her works of art. She was also expelled from the Association of Berlin female artists, because of  her Jewish ancestry.

She also was a
writer and illustrator of children's books and painter.

"Pietà".1925/ 1926

Rathlef became a major proponent of Anna Anderson's claim to be Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia. She befriended the claimant and wrote a series of articles about her.

Anna Anderson (Left) with Harriet Rathlef Keilmann  in the mid 1920s

The false Anastasia and Harriet at the Mommsen-Sanatorium in Berlin, 1925 (1926?) and
 at the door of a Hotel in Lugano

 Harriet Ellen  von Rathlef-Keilmann and a wooden sculpture "lying girl”, 1928 Berlin
 Photographed in Berlin around 1927/1928

Harriet had all the time trying to hide her Jewishness. In 1925, she even went on to the Catholic Church. It did not help her. The manager of the apartment building Count von Dellinghaus, where she had her studio, came from Latvia and knew her family. Other Baltic emigrants who had close contacts with the Nazis knew the family Keilmann and knew of their Jewish roots.

Alarmed by the political developments in Nazi Germany, Rathlef hoped to leave the country. Before she could make definite plans, Rathlef died in Berlin on 1 May 1933 of a burst appendix.( source)

Wood Sculpture “sitting girl”, Berlin 1930

Mark on Harriet's sculptures

Photos and info submitted by Robert Dupuis,Harriet Ellen von Rathlef-Keilmann's greatnephew. Germany
Done in November 2012 by Christine Usdin