I have a great deal to add to this page from research I did the the Piepkorn Papers in the ELCA Archives on March 4-5, 2008, that I will add when time allows. The Director
Piepkorn was a great patron of the music, painting and sculpture. He was Richard R. Caemmerer Jr.’s first client. (Jaroslav Pelikan was Richard’s second.)
Piepkorn raised funds for Elizabeth Reuter and helped make her work known in the United States. A composite framing of eight of her woodcuts, in color, hung in his living room. The daughters do not know what happened to it. The same is true of Sadao Watanabe painting. If you do, please contact the Director.
He purchased a stunning Siegried Reinhardt triptych of the Risen Lord, which hung in his study. The daughers do not know what happened to it. If you do, contact the Director.
Piepkorn put the Director in contact with the sculptor William Severson and the artist Francis Deck and may have owned works by them.
Piepkorn bought a number of 15th century incunabula [15th century printed books] as an investment and because he eventually hoped to do some research in them. One of them contained the Postilla of William of Paris, O.P. (fl. 1437), on which the Director did his dissertation. See the Anecdotes page for an interesing “Piepkorn anecdote” on this research. After the 1973 Synodical Convention, when he knew he knew that his days at the seminary were probably numbered in months, he began making plans to sell some of the incunabula for the income doing so would provide.
The “Lost” Triptych”
After the death of Arthur Carl Piepkorn, his widow Miriam gave away some of their art collection. Various individuals who are interested in the Piepkorn heritage would like to know where some of this art is.
The magnificent Siegfried Rheinhardt of the risen Christ that hung in his study in his home for many years.
The eight-paneled composition by Elisabeth Reuter that hung in the Piepkorn living-dining room. German title: Wahr’ Mensch, Wahrer Gott. Woodcuts each roughly 7 inches by 9 inches mounted in sequence. At Piepkorn’s request, Elisabeth had painted them in bright colors. The 8 piece series ran from Annunciation to the 12-Yr Old Jesus in the Temple. Individual ones of them occasionally showed up on the “Ashby liturgical calendar” that Piepkorn edited. Elisabeth Reuter, was apparently discovered by ACP in Crimmitschau (until 1989 = East Germany) possibly during his time as chaplain with the US Army. The family apparently were members of the Lutheran Free Church. He brought her art to the USA. Many of ER’s designs were used by the Seminary Press Christmas Card company run by Edward and Marie Schroeder, who have a set (uncolored) of the Wahr’ Mensch – Wahrer Gott woodcut series, and who supplied me with this information and are looking for the original.
Tom Sluberski wants to do an article on the triptych that Piepkorn commissioned Florence Halter to do for his church in Chisholm, MN, where he served from 1933-36. When a new church was built the triptych was returned to Piepkorn, who loaned it to the Concordia Historical Institute. After his death, Miriam withdrew it from the CHI, but it is not known where it is today.
Tom sent me this description and history of the triptych. He obviously did it in a hurry. I have corrected only a few obvious typos. –Phil Secker
January 9, 2005
Florence Halter was commissioned by ACP to do a large triptych for his first church in Chisholm, Minn. It changed Lutheranism forever. It depicted Christ and Blessed Martin in Eucharistic vestments, for the first time evidently, according to ACP, in a Lutheran Church!
Reuters, Newsweek etc. all featured the triptych, ACP and Mrs. Halter in major articles. It occasioned a swirl of controversy, and they had to make a replica and exhibit it at that year’s LC–MS convention! See all the articles in Conc. Hist Institute.
It was moved to St. Louis, [and was on display in the Concordia Historical Institute. After Piepkorn’s death, his widow, Miriam recalled it and other materials he had loaned to the CHI. The documents were given to Seminex, but no one knows what happened to the triptych. added by pjs] It disappeared from view–but not from memory.
It is central to the Liturgical movement in the USA. The central panel (and I have no documents here–I am in Ohio since returning from 6 months in Brasil, Bishop David Benke was also floored when he saw a photo at her funeral and demanded a back story on it)depicted Christ on cross with Eucharistic vestments with a background of blue with stars or fleurs-de-lis. It is surrounded by angels and prophets of O and N Testaments as often depicted in the history of art.
On the left panel, Blessed Dr. Martin Luther is celebrating Mass in full and correct Eucharistic vestments facing the altar, and his face is based on the latest at the time historical research. Garbed in full Deacon’s and Subdeacon’s vestments are Dr. Bugenhagen on one side (and I forget the other Reformer on the other). Martin is elevating the host. Someone is swinging incense (if I remember correctly).
The copy of the Hist. Society’s description of it does get the details correctly. I sent a photocopy of that to you and his letters regarding Florence to Howard Halter.
On the right is John the Baptist baptizing the Ethiopan Eunoch (black!)
The whole triptych, as you can guess illustrates the 3 Means of Grace, Baptism, Eucharist and WORD (JC).
Ellen Florence Halter was 24. She went on to found and own Associated Metalcrafts, which crafted the chalices, ciboriums, patens, crosses, crucifixes, rerodos’ of many Lutheran and Episcopal churches. Her work in silver and gold is featured at the C. Hist. Institute. She was one of the last to use the lost wax method and hired European craftsmen to do her work. She sold the business when they tried to unionize it and Americanize it–she owned it for 25 years. There will be a display at Concordia’s Spring concert (April 25?? ask Gerry Coleman for the date) in a concert in her honor. She bequested hundreds of thousands of dollars to Concordia, Village Luthr, Mill Neck, Bethesda etc. at her death.
If you know of its whereabouts of any of this art, please contact me (to send me an email, remove the xx’s from this address: firstname.lastname@example.org). On March 21, 2008, Edward H. Schroeder sent this me.
ACP’s daughter Faith and husband Dick Hoffman keep showing up Sundays at Bethel (U. City) which is our Sunday venue now for going on 35 yrs.
Couple Sundays ago I asked them about a major artwork that once hung in the ACP home there on Dartford. To wit, an eight-paneled composition by Elisabeth Reuter. German title: Wahr’ Mensch, Wahrer Gott. Woodcuts each roughly 7 inches by 9 inches mounted in sequence. For Pieps, Elisabeth had also painted them in bright colors. The 8 piece series ran from Annunciation to the 12-Yr Old Jesus in the Temple.
Individual ones of them occasionally showed up on the “Piepkorn liturgical calendar” that someone (whose name I forget) published in those days–and possibly still does.
Elisabeth Reuter, as I leaned the story, was discovered by ACP in Crimmitschau (until 1989 = East Germany) possibly during his time as chaplain with the US Army. I think the family were Luth. Free CHurch folks. He brought her art to the USA. Back in those days Marie and I ran the Seminary Press Christmas Card company. We used many of ER’s designs for our cards. Thereby got into correspondence with her ourselves, but never met face-to-face. When we did get to Germany to do so, she’d just died. We did visit her sister Theda and viewed the ER works she had–as well as her own.
We have a set (uncolored) of the Wahr’ Mensch – Wahrer Gott woodcut series. But we’ve never had them mounted as one grand artwork as they were in the Piepkorn home.
Cutting to the chase– At Bethel on that Sunday we asked Faith and Dick: “What ever happened to that family treasure?” Stunned a bit, since they’d never though about it for ages, they said: “We don’t know. And of course, we remember it.” Faith said: “I’ll check with my sisters and see if they know.”
Well, the reports are back from the sisters and nobody knows where it went. Faith surmises that it might have been given by Miriam to some ACP-Schueler (like YOU?) after his death and before her own. And that’s why the sisters have no info.
Ed[ward H Schroeder]