Tilla Durieux

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Tilla Durieux
Tilla Durieux 1905 Foto Jacob Hilsdorf.jpeg
Photograph by Jacob Hilsdorf (1905)
Ottilie Godeffroy

(1880-08-18)18 August 1880
Died21 February 1971(1971-02-21) (aged 90)
Years active1902–1970
(m. 1903;div. 1905)
(m. 1910;div. 1926)
(m. 1930;died 1944)

Tilla Durieux (born Ottilie Godeffroy; 18 August 1880 – 21 February 1971) was an Austrian theatre and film actress of the first decades of the 20th century.


Franz Stuck's Tilla Durieux als Circe, c. 1913 Franz von Stuck Tilla Durieux als Circe.jpg
Franz Stuck's Tilla Durieux als Circe , c.1913

Early years

Born Ottilie Helene Angela Godeffroy [1] on 18 August 1880 in Vienna, she was the daughter of the Austrian chemist Richard Max Victor Godeffroy (1847–1895) [2] and his wife, the Hungarian pianist Adelheid Ottilie Augustine Godeffroy (née Hrdlicka, died 1920), who was born in Romania. [3] After graduating from elementary school, she switched to the public school in Alsergrund, Vienna. She was baptized in the evangelical parish Augsburg Confession in Vienna. [4] On 31 May 1928 she converted to Catholicism [5]


She trained as an actress in Vienna and made her debut at the Moravian Theatre in Olmütz (now Olomouc) in 1902. Since her mother refused her career choice, she later adopted the stage name Durieux, derived from du Rieux, the maiden name of her paternal grandmother. The next season she got an engagement in Breslau (Wrocław since 1945). From 1903 she worked with Max Reinhardt at the Deutsches Theater in Berlin and with a group of expressionist artists around Kurt Hiller and Jakob van Hoddis. In 1911 Durieux entered the stage of the Lessing Theater where, on 1 November 1913, she became the second actress to perform the role Eliza Doolittle in a German language production of George Bernard Shaw's play Pygmalion , half a year before its English premiere on 11 April 1914. [6] From 1915 she performed at the Royal Schauspielhaus Berlin. In 1923, Durieux appeared on Broadway in Dario Niccodemi's play The Shadow at the 39th Street Theatre. [7]


In 1904, Durieux married the Berlin Secession painter Eugen Spiro, whose younger sister was Baladine Klossowska. They divorced consensually in 1905, after she had fallen in love with Paul Cassirer. She started dating the successful art dealer and editor and they got married in 1910. The marriage lasted 16 years, however Cassirer was very affected when Durieux wanted to divorce him. When their divorce was declared in 1926, Cassirer committed suicide in a room next to the court room where their hearing had taken place. [8]

Soon after, Durieux married general director Ludwig Katzenellenbogen. In 1927 they were the main financiers of Erwin Piscator's Neues Schauspielhaus project. Durieux was a public character of 1920s Berlin and associated with numerous celebrities like the photographer Frieda Riess.

Escape from Germany

Tilla Durieux, c. 1915 Tilla Durieux by Becker & Maass.jpg
Tilla Durieux, c.1915

In 1933, Durieux and Katzenellenbogen left Nazi Germany for Switzerland to escape Nazi rule. She continued to perform at the Vienna Theater in der Josefstadt and in Prague. In 1937 she moved to Zagreb, Croatia (then in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia) where she became a member of the International Red Aid. Durieux unsuccessfully tried to obtain visa for the United States. In 1941 Ludwig Katzenellenbogen was arrested by Gestapo agents in Thessaloniki and deported to Sachsenhausen concentration camp. He died in 1944 at Jüdisches Krankenhaus Berlin  [ de ].[ citation needed ]

Return and late years

Durieux managed to return to West Germany in 1952, appearing on stages in Berlin, Hamburg, and Münster. The plays in which she performed included A Dream Play by August Strindberg, The Chinese Wall  [ de; fa; ko; sh ] by Max Frisch, and the Atriden-Tetralogie  [ de ] by Gerhart Hauptmann.

In 1971 Durieux underwent surgery for a hip fracture and died of post-operative sepsis. Although the date on her gravestone is 21 January 1971, she died on 21 of February 1971, which would have been the 100th birthday of Paul Cassirer. [9]

Art collection

Durieux's marriage to her second husband, Paul Cassirer, brought her into the world of art collecting. In addition to family portraits, the Tilla Durieux and Paul Cassirer Collection included modern works of art. When she and her third husband, Ludwig Katzenellenbogen, emigrated from Nazi Germany in 1933, they took some artworks with them. [10]

Portrait of Durieux (1914) by Renoir Pierre-Auguste Renoir 104.jpg
Portrait of Durieux (1914) by Renoir

Durieux’s collection was integrated into the Zlata Lubienski  [ hr ] Art Collection. On November 13, 1945, the Commission for Gathering and Protecting of Cultural Monuments and Antiques proclaimed that the Zlata Lubienski Art Collection was a ‘protected’ collection under the Section for Museums of the Department of Art and Culture of the Ministry of Education of the Federal Republic of Croatia. Scholars have emphasized the ambiguous meaning of the word "protection". Lubienski and Durieux contested the decision but were denied. [10]

On February 17, 1982, the City Institute for the Conservation of Cultural and Natural Heritage for the City Council in Zagreb gave a permit for the export of the Tilla Durieux Collection. A commission whose members included Ida Slade Šilović (City Institute for the Conservation of Cultural and Natural Heritage for the City Council in Zagreb), Zdenko Kuzmić and Zdenka Kazmar (City Museum in Zagreb), Dubravka Osrečki (Committee for Public Affairs) and Ljiljana Poljak (from City Administration) was established. The Tilla Durieux Collection was divided, leaving nineteen art works in Zagreb [11] [12] as a part of a new Tilla Durieux Collection at the City Museum in Zagreb while 58 items were exported to Germany, where many were sold. [10]

The heirs of Ludwig Katzenellenbogen and his ex-wife Estella have listed fifty artworks with the Deutsches Zentrum Kulturgutverluste  [ de ]. [13]


1914Der Flug in die SonneHelga Steinert
1915Die Launen einer WeltdameMaud, leading role "lady of the world"
1920Die Verschleierteleading role
1921 Hashish, the Paradise of Hell Sultanin
1921Der zeugende TodBoroka, Malerin
1922 The Blood screenplay by Tilla Durieux
1929 Woman in the Moon Fünf Gehirne und Scheckbücher
1953 The Stronger Woman Mutter der Fürstin
1954 The Last Bridge Mara
1956 The Story of Anastasia Zarenmutter Maria Feodorowna von Russland
1957 Von allen geliebt  [ de ]Frau Avenarius
1957 El Hakim Mutter des Hussni
1958 Resurrection Die Alte
1959 Labyrinth Schwester Celestine
1959 Morgen wirst du um mich weinen  [ de ]Tante Ermelin
1961 Barbara Armgart
1964 Condemned to Sin Die Großmutter
1966 It Die Alte aus dem Osten

See also

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  1. "Leopold Museum widmet sich Filmstar Tilla Durieux", ORF
  2. "Godeffroy, Richard (1847–1895), Chemiker". Österreichisches Biographisches Lexikon ab 1815 (online) (in German). Vol. 2. Austrian Academy of Sciences. 1957. p. 14.
  3. Durieux, Tilla (1971). Meine ersten neunzig Jahre: Erinnerungen (in German). Munich: Herbig. pp. 312–314. ISBN   978-3776605624.
  4. Melanie Ruff (19 October 2007). "Tilla Durieux – Selbstbilder und Images der Schauspielerin" (PDF). Retrieved 6 December 2022.
  5. Sigrid Bauschinger  [ de ], Die Cassirers, Munich, Beck 2015, p. 347.
  6. Richard Huggett (1969). The Truth About Pygmalion. Random House.
  7. The Shadow at the Internet Broadway Database
  8. Durieux 1971, p. 314.
  9. Oertwig, Bernd [in German] (2019). Berühmte Tote leben ewig. Berliner Schicksale (in German). Berlin: Verlag für Berlin-Brandenburg. p. 240. ISBN   978-3947215-584.
  10. 1 2 3 Mlikota, Antonija. "The Destiny of the Tilla Durieux Collection after its Transfer from Berlin to Zagreb" (PDF). lootedart.com.
  11. Damjanović, Dragan (2021). "Works of Max Slevogt in the Tilla Durieux Collection in Zagreb". In Gregor Wedekind (ed.). Max Slevogts Netzwerke. Kunst-, Kultur- und Intellektuellengeschichte des späten Kaiserreichs und der Weimarer Republik. De Gruyter. pp. 69–88. ISBN   978-3110660951.
  12. "Tilla Durieux and her art collection in Zagreb". Narodni Muzej Zadar Zadar National Museum]. Retrieved 2023-02-07.
  13. "Suche | Lost Art-Datenbank". Lost Art-Datenbank  [ de ]. Retrieved 2023-02-07.