Mela Muter: The Port of Collioure (mid-1920s)

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Maria Melania Mutermilch (Mela Muter), (1876-1967), POLISH, THE PORT OF COLLIOURE, Mid-1920s, signed Muter lower right, oil on canvas60 by 73cm., 23½ by 28¾in., Source: Sotheby’s,

Who Is Mela Muter?

Mela Muter is the pseudonym used by Maria Melania Mutermilch (1876 – 1967), the first professional Jewish painter in Poland. Although she lived most of her life in France, she was born Maria Melania Kingsland in Warsaw, Poland, daughter of a wealthy Jewish merchant.

After her marriage, Muter moved from Poland to Paris in 1901, and she continued her studies at the Académie Colarossi and the Académie de la Grande Chaumière. In 1902, she began exhibiting her work at the Paris Salon and took part in other exhibitions, both in Paris and Poland. Muter was a popular portrait painter and occasional magazine illustrator.

Muter was one of the first members of the group of artists known as the School of Paris (French: École de Paris), a loose community (not an organized art movement) of French and émigré artists. The members of School of Paris worked around the cafes, salons, shared workspaces, and galleries of  Montparnasse in the first half of the 20th century.

Muter Personifies Landscapes

According to Natasza Styrna in Jewish Women’s Archive Encyclopedia, Muter “often approached natural forms by investing them with human traits.”  Styrna continues,

“Landscape painting was the parallel form of her work. Motifs which recur in her painting are wide pastures, the architecture of southern France and often rivers and the life in their proximity.”

Natasza Styrna
Maria Melania Mutermilch (Mela Muter), (1876-1967), POLISH, THE PORT OF COLLIOURE, Mid-1920s, signed Muter lower right, oil on canvas60 by 73cm., 23½ by 28¾in., Source: Sotheby’s, (detail)

‘The Port of Collioure’

Mela Muter travelled frequently to Collioure, visiting nearly every year between 1921 and 1926. The Church of Notre Dame des Anges can be seen as a reference point in the background. She found Collioure to be charming; a fishing town surrounded by history with its fortifications and towers. The fishing boats with their sashes of blue and red and green, the rooftops of orange and pink and the reflections off the water was a symphony of colour. Clearly interested in maintaining clean lines and true colour, Muter left areas of the canvas blank. The raw canvas in the foreground adds a palpable dimension to the docked boats, reinforcing their significance to Collioure and its livelihood. 

Sotheby’s
Maria Melania Mutermilch (Mela Muter), (1876-1967), POLISH, THE PORT OF COLLIOURE, Mid-1920s, signed Muter lower right, oil on canvas60 by 73cm., 23½ by 28¾in., Source: Sotheby’s,(detail)

In Summary

She was an outsider all her life, uninfluenced by fashions or trends. Her portraits, landscapes and still life reveal the influence of major artistic currents of the turn and beginning of the century: synthetism of École de Pont-Aven, van Gogh’s expressionism, French fauvism, cubism. Yet her work was entirely individual, both in its subject matter and in the formal means which she employed.

Natasza Styrna in Jewish Women’s Archive Encyclopedia

Maria Melania Mutermilch (Mela Muter), (1876-1967), POLISH, THE PORT OF COLLIOURE, Mid-1920s, signed Muter lower right, oil on canvas60 by 73cm., 23½ by 28¾in., Source: Sotheby’s,(detail)

Details

Sources

Natasza Styrna, “Mela Muter” in The Jewish Women’s Archive Encyclopedia, https://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/Muter-Mela (accessed 4 Jan 2019).

Wikipedia contributors, “Mela Muter,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Mela_Muter&oldid=873118755 (accessed January 4, 2019).

Wikipedia contributors, “School of Paris,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=School_of_Paris&oldid=870826336 (accessed January 4, 2019).

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Thanks for Visiting 🙂

~Sunnyside

6 Comments Add yours

  1. the music in the video clip is a melody immersed in the soul of the topic painting: the port of…..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I just found the attribution for the music and musician and added to the caption. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Northern Elm. 🙂

      Like

  2. thank you so much for bringing such a visual delight into my 3rd day of the new year!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My pleasure! Thanks for visiting, Northern Elm. 😎

      Like

  3. penwithlit says:

    Reblogged this on penwithlit and commented:
    Fascinating and quite similar to paintings of here in Cornwall.

    Liked by 1 person

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