Georgianna Baer Manning Collection
Scope and Contents
Collection of 81 Goebel Hummel figurines and Hummel-related books and magazines.
This Hummel collection of Georgianna Baer Manning has been donated to VSU Archives as a tribute to Georgianna by Stephen Joseph Manning, an employee of VSU for 27 years, for all to enjoy for generations.
Mrs. Georgianna Baer Manning was a resident of Valdosta. Georgia. She was married to Stephen Joseph Manning. She was born on November 6, 1941 in Manhattan, New York to George and Alice Ress Baer. Mrs. Manning was a member of St. James Episcopal Church in Quitman, a member of the Elk’s Auxillary and a homemaker. Mrs. Manning died on March 3, 2021.
Berta Hummel was born in Massing in Bavaria, Germany in 1909. As a child Berta showed creative talent. Her father encouraged her artistic talent and, at the age of 12 enrolled her in a boarding school of the sisters of Loreta. Hummel continued to grow in here abilities and after graduation in 1927enrolled in the prestigious Academy of Applied Arts in Munich.
Berta was a devout Catholic and she chose to live in a residents run by religious sisters. While there she made friends with two members of the congregation of the Franciscan Sisters of Siessen (SieBen) who were also studying. After Berta graduated in 1931 with top honors she chose to follow a religious calling and enter the Franciscan Order as a postulant, than a novice and received the religious name of Sister Maria Innocentia.
After completing her novitiate she was assigned to a children’s school run by the convent where she continued to paint pictures of children and the sisters were impressed with her work. They sent copies to Emil Fink Verlag a publishing house in Stuttgart. The company decided to release copies of her work in post card form and in 1934 her drawings titled Das Hummel-Buch.
Soon afterward Franz Goebel, the owner of a porcelain company was looking for a new line of artwork and saw the post cards in a shop in Munich. Hummel agreed, mostly for its saving the employment of many workers and the convent granted sole rights to make figurines on her art. Interest in the figurines increased after they were displayed in 1935 at the Liepzig Trade Fair. A decade later the figurines would gain popularity in the United States when returning American soldiers brought them home.
In 1937, two events in Hummel’s life were to mark her future. On 30 August she made her final profession as a permanent member of the congregation. Also, she had released a painting titled “The Volunteers”, which drew the enduring hatred of Adolf Hitler who attacked the art, denouncing the depiction of German children with “Hydrocephalic heads”. Although the Nazi authorities allowed Hummel to work, they banned the distribution of her art in Germany. One Nazi magazine, the SA Man (issue of 23 March 1937) wrote of her work;
There is no place in the ranks of German artists for the likes of her. No, the “beloved Fatherland" cannot remain calm when Germany’s youth are betrayed as brainless sissies.
Significantly, Hummel also sketches that contained the Star of David, a dangerous theme in those times. She portrayed angels in gowns covered with slightly skewed six-pointed stars. She also designed a series of Old and New Testament symbols for the convent chapel in 1938-39. She symbolized the junction of the two testaments by designing a cross with a menorah before it.
In 1940, the Nazi government closed all religious schools, including those of Siessen. Later that year it seized the convent itself, forcing most of the community to leave. Out of a community of 250 only 40 were allowed to remain, were confined to a small section, living there without heat and without any means of supporting themselves. Hummel returned to her family at this time but missed the community life, she returned in three months. Hummel was given a small cell which served as sleeping quarters and her studio. The Nazi’s took half of the money generated by her work but the remaining funds were the main source of income for the sisters there. Food was scarce and it was very cold in the winter. Mother Augustine later wrote of that period, ”What we suffered was indescribable” Hummel was diagnosed with tuberculosis in 1944. She did not recover and died on November 6, 1946 at the age of 37.
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