Born Hélène Mathilde Thérèse Pauline Tardif in Marseille on 12 May, daughter of Mèrette (Lucie) Tardif (? – 8/2/1914) and Monsieur Tardif (c. 1840 – 30/12/1911); his schoolfriends included Émile Zola (1840-1902) and Paul Cézanne (1839-1906), with whom he probably attended the Collège Bourbon in Aix-en-Provence between 1852 and 1857.
Nothing else is known yet about Mathilde’s childhood and teenage years.
Training at the Académie Julian in Paris. There is no record of exact dates or who her teachers were.
Birth of her daughter Yvonne (1892-1957)
Leo von König (1871-1944) studies at the Académie Julian in Paris under Jules-Joseph Lefebvre and Tony Robert-Fleury. This is probably where Mathilde Tardif meets Leo von König, her future husband.
Painting trips with Leo von König to Concarneau, a fishing village in Brittany popular with artists since the 1870s, like the artists’ colony at nearby Pont-Aven. The painter Ida Gerhardi also worked here for three months in 1891.
Leo von König joins the Berlin Secession.
Mathilde Tardif probably moved to Berlin. She shows “Balleteuse”, “Greis und Kind” and “Verlobte” at the 4th Exhibition of the Berlin Secession.
Mathilde Tardif shows “Die tote Mutter”, “Flirt”, “Elend” and “Moulin Rouge” at the 6th Exhibition of the Berlin Secession.
Mathilde Tardif shows “Hochzeit”, “Mutter und Kind”, “Das tote Kind” and “Obdachlos” at the 8th Exhibition of the Berlin Secession.
Leo von König befriends art historian Julius Meier-Graefe (1867-1935), who has settled back in Berlin after several years as an art dealer in Paris. Meier-Graefe publishes his book on the history of modern art; he never mentions female artists in his writing.
In September Julius Meier-Graefe moves to Genthinerstrasse 11, Berlin W, where Leo von König and Mathilde Tardif are frequent guests. There are also meetings with the art sponsor Ida Dehmel and the painter Dora Hitz.
Leo von König lives at Schleswiger Ufer 11, Berlin NW.
Mathilde Tardif shows “Die Familie”, “Das Mädchen”, “Spaziergang” and “Die Wahl des Paris” at the 11th Exhibition of the Berlin Secession in summer; she also contributes drawings to the 12th Exhibition of the Berlin Secession in winter.
On 26 September Mathilde Tardif and Leo von König marry; he adopts her daughter Yvonne. Relocation to Schleswiger Ufer 12, where he also set up his painting and drawing school.
From April to October they travel with Julius Meier-Graefe and his wife Anna to Portugal and Spain. Embarking in Hamburg on the “Cap Arcona” set for Buenos Aires, they leave the ship in Lisbon, reaching Madrid in mid-April, where they spend long hours in the Prado and observe Spanish street life, while Mathilde Tardif in particular enjoys the Mediterranean climate. They attend traditional bullfights in Madrid and Seville and pay an enthusiastic visit to the Alhambra in Granada.
They briefly cross the sea to the Moroccan port of Tangier. Mathilde Tardif recalls her first trip to North Africa, when she visited Tunis as a young girl.
In August Mathilde Tardif stays with her parents in Paris, where she is later joined by König, Meier-Graefe and his wife.
On 25 November Leo von König leaves the Berlin Secession.
On 30 December Mathilde Tardif’s father dies at Neuilly-sur-Seine near Paris.
The architect Walther Leo Epstein builds a country house for Leo von König at Seestrasse 4 in Schlachtensee on the edge of Berlin (now Am Schlachtensee 134), where Mathilde and Leo take up residence.
In February Mathilde Tardif and Leo von König visit Paris; he portrays Mathilde’s mother Lucie (Mèrette) Tardif.
On 15 June Mathilde, Yvonne, Leo von König, Meier-Graefe and his wife see a production of Tolstoy’s “The Living Corpse” at the Deutsches Theater in Berlin.
Christmas with Leo von König’s parents in Woltersdorf, Brandenburg.
The couple travel to Paris following the death of Mathilde Tardif’s mother.
In Berlin they watch Richard Wagner’s opera “Parsifal” with Meier-Graefe.
On 3 August Germany declares war on France. Julius Meier-Graefe and Leo von König volunteer for war service, but von König is not drafted; Leo’s father Götz von König is Commander of the 3rd Reserve Army Division in Poland.
Meier-Graefe sends Mathilde Tardif various editions of French literature, including Stendhal and the diaries of artist Marie Bashkirtseff, and Goethe’s poem to friendship “Gingo & Biloba”.
Mathilde and her daughter spend some time on the estate at Woltersdorf with her mother-in-law. As a Frenchwoman, Mathilde Tardif finds the war years extremely hard to bear, especially talk of an age-old “hereditary enmity” between France and Germany.
Leo von König divorces Mathilde Tardif to marry his student Anna von Hansemann (1897-1992) on 26 May.
In Oberstdorf in Oberallgäu Yvonne meets the painter Walter Becker and marries him in November; they live in Berlin until early 1924.
Mathilde Tardif moves to Cassis-sur-Mer near Marseille, living with Yvonne and Walter Becker in a Provence-style farmhouse which becomes a meeting-place for artists; Yvonne and Walter Becker live here until 1936.
Leo von König visits Mathilde Tardif, Yvonne and Walter Becker in Cassis-sur-Mer in the spring.
1927 Julius Meier-Graefe and his second wife Annemarie visit Mathilde Tardif in Cassis-sur-Mer and move to the country house “La Banette” in the vineyards of Saint-Cry-sur-Mer.
On 5 May Mathilde Tardif takes her own life at Woltersdorf near Berlin on the estate of her parents-in-law Götz Freiherr von König (1849-1934) and Hertha Freiin von König-von Cramm (1847-1934). Mathilde Tardif is buried in the König family grave in Potsdam.
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Picture Quotes | Exhibition MATHILDE TARDIF
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The Exhibition book
Ingrid von der Dollen
“Die Malerin MATHILDE TARDIF 1872-1929 – Panoptikum der Gesellschaft um 1900”
128 pp., Edition Joseph Hierling, Tutzing 2020, € 19,00.
Bus M49, X34, 101