Courage and Calling

Elisabeth Moller was the youngest of the three children of Vincent Moller and his wife Hedwig, neé Thuun. Her father died just two years after her birth. She was given music and art lesson and soon developed a penchant for painting. She befriended Margarethe Elisabeth Hudtwalcker (1748-94), the sister of her subsequent husband Johann Michael Hudtwalcker (1747-1818). In 1775, Elisabeth Moller and Johann Michael Hudtwalcker married and lived in the husband’s parental home in Katharingenstrasse 83. Married and not yet a mother, Elisabeth was able to continue painting during her hours of leisure. She copied paintings in chalk and learnt to sketch by copying natural objects. Her favourite activity was portraying.

One year after the wedding Elisabeth Hudtwalcker was pregnant.

“Now she lost courage, or rather she was courageous enough for another calling. She felt enthusiastic about being more of a mother than an artist”, said the husband about his wife. Elisabeth Hudtwalcker had to manage a large household; she bore eight children, the last at the age of 37.

During the years her old desire for artistic activity began to stir again but even though she had a firm grip on her household, she had to spend so much time on it that she only found the time to paint if she got up very early. As she always had to be prepared for interruptions due to her motherly and household duties, she hardly painted in oil and had lessons in water colour. However, her artistic ambitions continued to collude with the tasks of household management. Soon after her husband was nominated as Senator in 1788, Elisabeth Hudtwalcker contracted an inflammatory fever. During a trip through Germany which she undertook together with her husband in 1790 to recuperate from the grief of losing the youngest child born only the year before, the Hudtwalcker couple visited friends and artists, including Johann Friedrich Schadow and Daniel Chodowiecki. In 1804 she did not survive a renewed outbreak of inflammation. After seven days of illness, she died. Her portrait, painted by Jean-Laurent Mosnier, hangs in the Hamburg Art Hall. Painting and pictures by her hand did not survive the times.


Bake/Reimers, P. 130-132; Johann Michael Hudtwalcker, Elisabeth Hudtwalcker, neé Moller, died 22 November 1804; A Biography, Hamburg 1804. Rita Bake

Hamburgische Biografie, Personenlexikon, Band 2, Christians Verlag, Hamburg 2003 2014