This is a blog about music, photography, history, and culture.
These are photographs from my collection that tell a story about lost time and forgotten music.

Mike Brubaker
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The Girls of Austrian Postcards

01 March 2019

Youth and beauty
are irresistible.

A young pretty face
is hard to ignore.

Artists have known this
since forever.

And so have publishers
and advertisers.

If a pleasing picture
of an attractive girl
will sell once
it will sell a thousand times.
Especially if is only costs a Heller or two.

Last year I acquired an Austrian postcard from around 1900 that displayed an etching of a ladies' orchestra. I was attracted to it because it resembled another postcard of young female musicians which I had bought some years ago. Indeed both postcards were signed with the same name, H. Torggler, and published by the same firm, Fr. A. Ackermann, Kunstverlag, München.

Intrigued by this artist's rendition of musicians I went in search of more. What I discovered was that the Ackermann Kunstverlag produced hundreds of postcards by this artist. Most are charming portraits of young women, and though a few include musical instruments, I was fascinated by the artist's depiction of German/Austrian female fashions and activities from the turn of the 19th/20th centuries. So I've started a new sub-genre in my collection that is a novelty outside of my usual musical themed photographs.

By way of introducing my readers to this artist, this story is about four postcards by H. Torggler. The first sketch is of a girl playing a lute-like instrument as she waits for the kettle to boil. Her attention seems focused on something hidden beyond the steam. The captioned title reads:

Heimchen am Herd

Cricket at the stove

This postcard was sent to Wohlgeboren Fräulein Toni Hengl of Mauer, a village southwest of Wien (Vienna) that is now part of the city. The term Wohlgeboren means well born and was an honorific used when addressing the lowest rank of German/Austrian nobility. The postmark is too faint to read but I believe it is sometime around 1900.

* * *

The second postcard shows a young woman brushing crumbs off a plate onto a windowsill for the benefit of two pigeons. Her eyes however are looking at something else The captioned title reads:

Auf die Krümlein harrt der Spatz
The sparrow awaits the crumbs

This postcard was sent from Altenburg, Germany,  a city in Thuringia south of Leipzig on 6 July 1899 to Fräulein Margarette Franke, Lehrerin (teacher) of Chemnitz, a city in Saxony, eastern Germany.

* * *


The next postcard has another young lady seated in a drawing room and wearing a heavyweight  garment suitable for cooler weather. She seems lost in thought, perhaps gazing at a photograph on the small table before her. The caption title is:

Gendenke mein !
Remember mine !

This card is postmarked 5 September 1899 from Luzern, Switzerland, from Catherine to Herr Seb. Zimmerman. She thanks him for his card and sends her heartiest greetings.

* * *

This last postcard of Torggler is a drawing of a more seductive woman that is also a bit musical. This young girl is dressed in a kind of gypsy costume that exposes a bit more skin and she holds a tambourine above her head. The caption reads simply:

which is a vigorous Italian dance known throughout Europe and often illustrated by tambourine-waving dancers. The card was sent 12 August 1900 to a Fräulein L... living in Hungary.

The postcards only have the artist's printed name, H. Torggler, but his full name was Herman Torggler, (1878-1939) and he was born in Graz, Austria. These postcard sketches clearly represent early work that he created sometime between age 18 to 24. Evidently Torggler's youthful artistic talent was recognized by the city of Graz which awarded him a prize to study in Wien. There he established himself as a much admired portrait painter. His output includes several paintings of the great composers and writers associated with Vienna. Much of Hermann Torggler's success was helped by the Ackermann Kunstverlag which kept producing his paintings and sketches for many years into the 1930s.

I find Torggler's early sketches both charming and witty. They may be stylized images of an ideal young woman, but I like how they offer another viewpoint of Austrian/German culture from this pre-WW1 era that is different from the other musical photos I usually collect. As with many of my enthusiasms, Torggler's postcards now occupy their own special album, so my readers can expect many more on his artist.

this is my contribution to Sepia Saturday.
Click the link to see what's cooking.


Molly of Molly's Canopy said...

Another home run - cooking and music together on a postcard! These artist renditions are lovely, and it's interesting that all are either sent or received by women, who may have been their target market.

Wendy said...

Your title tickles me - sounds like a reality show akin to Real Housewives of Pick-a-city. I love the postcard with the gypsy dancer because it shows TEETH! Was that unusual in drawings and postcards of the day?

Kathy said...

One collection leads to another - funny how that happens! Your postcards fit the theme well and I'll look forward to more.

La Nightingail said...

Love these postcards and the first two are perfect matches for the prompt. Perhaps the girl doing the tarantella is dancing for her supper? As for #3 - the caption might read "You said you would take me out to dinner. It's half past eight. Where are you?!" :)

Barbara Rogers said...

I'm very impressed by this young artist who was hired to draw for the commercial market of post cards. Artists do have a difficult life finding a way to sell on a regular basis, unless they fortunately have a "patron." Once they are established, they are treated much better, but often still live a bohemian lifestyle.

Avid Reader said...

They have such tranquil expressions.


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