Michel Koch (1853 - 1927)

Leben und Werk eines fast vergessenen Malers aus Edingen

The veil of oblivion will be lifted

Self portrait of Michel Koch, 1895

At the end of 2021 I was looking for a special birthday present for my favourite person in Edingen / Edingen-Neckarhausen. By chance I found the self-portrait by the painter Michel Koch shown above and was able to acquire it. Upon further research, it turned out that my favourite person and the painter Koch are distantly related. And thus my curiosity and interest were aroused.

Who would have thought where all this would lead to …

Still life with three hyacinths in a blue pot
after the restoration

I am very enthusiastic about the artist and his art. The deeper I dived into the matter, the higher the enthusiasm.

Searching the internet, I found more paintings by Michel Koch. Several of the paintings were for sale. I was able to purchase some, such as the „Still life with three hyacinths in a blue pot“ or the „Fire Lilies“, for several others I was too late. I now own 5 paintings by Michel Koch.

After restoration some of them will be made a permanent loan to the Edingen-Neckarhausen community museum.

The painter’s very large-format flower paintings, his landscapes and above all his portraits are particularly impressive.

At some point I read a very interesting article by a direct great-grandniece of the painter. In this article she asked whether the painter’s work could not be honoured on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of his death in 2027, since he had almost been forgotten. For up to now, very little can be found about the painter Michel Koch in literature and on the internet, although he was a well-known portrait and flower painter in Mannheim at the beginning of the 20th century. And he was awarded honorary citizenship in Edingen on his 70th birthday. Unfortunately, he died in poverty in Mannheim in 1927. His grave was located at the main cemetery in Mannheim until 2009, when it was dissolved.

Further research (see sources – in German) and several conversations and emails led to the plan to organise an exhibition in Edingen-Neckarhausen Castle in autumn 2027 to mark the 100th anniversary of his death.

The last time an exhibition on the painter was held, was in 1991. Before that, there were two other exhibitions. One in 1947 and one in 1912 / 1913, when his six-part series of large-format flower paintings, including the „Fire Lilies“, were shown for the first time at the Kunsthalle Mannheim.

Now I am in the process of preparing this exhibition with friends / acquaintances from the Edingen-Neckarhausen community museum support association and with direct descendants.

In addition to the exhibition, we want to try to systematically record the painter’s oeuvre and make it known to the wider public and on the Internet. The ultimate goal is to present everything in a virtual museum. His estate includes more than 400 paintings and drawings scattered all over the world. However, it is difficult to estimate how large his oeuvre is in total.

Fire lilies - before restoration
Fire Lilies - after the restoration

The Fire Lilies (130 x 160 cm)
before and after the restoration

Finally, a few words about me:
My name is Rainer Wellmann. I have been associated with Edingen-Neckarhausen since 1991 and have lived there since 1995. As my working life was gradually coming to an end in 2022 / 2023, I was looking for a subject that would captivate me – similar to genealogy, my other hobbyhorse. Michel Koch has done just that.

In May 2022, at the annual meeting of the Edingen-Neckarhausen community museum support association, I presented this hugh project with the aim of organising the exhibition in 2027 to mark the 100th anniversary of the painter’s death and to recruit contributors. There I was able to get to know and appreciate Bernd Fischer. Bernd Fischer was born in Edingen and has been involved in genealogical and family research since 1981. In addition, he has been working for about 15 years on the painter Koch from Edingen, who is one of his wife’s distant relatives. In addition, he has a „small“ collection of more than 10 Michel Koch paintings. We have joined forces and are now working together as friends and successfully towards this goal.

Last update: February 12, 2024