Mechtilde Lichnowsky was a writer, composer, painter and lover of the arts.
She was borned Mechtilde Christiane Maria Gräffin Von und zu Arco-Zinneberg, on 8 of march 1879 in Shonburg, Niederbayern, daughter of Maximilian Graf Von Arco-Zinneberg and Olga Von Konstantin Friedrich Alfons und Werther. On august 22 1904 she Married in Munchen, Karl Max Fürst Lichnowsky, the 6th prince. She is a direct descendant of Emperor Maria Theresia from Austria.
Mechtilde was very much involved in the arts world of the beggining of the century, among her close friends were Karl Kraus, Rainer Maria Rilke, Hugo Von Hofmansthal, Theodor W. Adorno and Oscar Kokoschka, just to name a few.
She wrote 18 books as well as compositions and theather plays.
As the wife of the German Embassador in london during 1912 -14, she met with the high aristocracy of England and became famous in Europe. He too was an admirer of arts and together they were one of the first clients of a young painter quite unknown at the time: Pablo Picasso.
In their gallery in Hradec nad Moravice, they had many works of arts of modern artists and some of them are still there in the museum.
Her archives can be found and are available for researchers at the Schiller National Museum in Marbach, Germany.
Last april (2009), a book from Professor Anne Martina Emonts about the importance of the work from Mechtilde was published: Mechtilde Lichnowsky – Sprachlust und Sprachkritik, (Mechtilde Lichnowsky, The pleasure and critic of the language), by the prestigious Konighausen & Neumann, an editing company especialized in science of the culture, from Wurzburg, Germany.
After the death of Karl Lichnowsky in 1928, Mechtilde lived in France for some years and, in 1937, she married Major Ralph Harding Peto in London where she lived with him until the beggining of the second world war. During a visit to her son Wilhelm in Chuhelna (now Czech Republic) she was forced to stay in Germany and could not go back to London until 1945.
Mechtilde's books were burned by the nazis and she remained captive in her house during the second world war as she was considered a traitor by the German Nazi regime and had to report to the Gestapo regularly.
After the war, she was expelled from Czechslovaquia by the Czech Government and lost all her properties in that country as she and her family were considered as nazi colaborators by the Czeh government.
This obviously unfair contradiction is a very good example of how the Decree (Bennes) that legitimized her expulsion from the Czech Republic was unfair, and still is, as her descendants and inheritors are still unable to return to their mother land and restitute their properties and personal belongings.
We have much more informations about Mechtilde including photographs, letters, journal articles, photos or her illustrations and compositions that we will be making available here in our page in the near future. She is a person we admire a lot, who followed the tradition of being a patron of the arts...
This is part of an essay written by the Czech novelist August Sholtis in 1930. He worked with the Lichnowsky's, who were interested in his welfare...
It was probably translated by Leonore Gräffin Lichnowsky, daughter of Mechtilde.
by August Scholtis
She came from Schonburg in Lower Bavaria.
To us Kuchelna (Chuchelna), at the time when it still belonged to Germany.
That,s where the nightingales sing in the wooded valleys and the hares play at cathing each other on the road.
She published "Gotter, Konige un Tiere in Agypten" ("Gods, kings and animals in Egipt") and started a series of books which are not meant to be anything else but cultivation of language.
In nineteenhundredthirteen her drama "Ein Speil vom Tod" ("Play on Death), was given in the theather, with Moissi and Terwin as actors . (...)
Then came Der Stimmer ("The Tuner"), a novel dealing with social problems.
In "Der kampf mit dem Fachmann" ("Fighting the Expert") a quaint and uninhibited bubbling and rebelling is taking place. Dealing in a most down to earth and by no means poetical way with all those self-important experts, such as railway cunductors, surgeons, buffons, pompous asses, models of poor workmanship...
"Ein Rendez-vous im Zoo" ("An Encounter in the Zoo") . This is the short story of truths told amiably, of absurdities, parrots, lovers, husbands and other half measures.
"Halb und Halb" ("Half and Half").
A book of drawings, drawings of animals, and verses. Animals!
Because Mechtilde Lichnowsky has an affection for animals. (...)
She loves dogs, goats, cats, oxen and pike; perhaps even fleas, bugs and other creeping-crawlies more than human beings (...)
La grande Compositeuse de l' Impromptu is what I should like to call that grand European woman whose amber coloured eyes seem to have a magical glow. (...)
Her mouth, sadly drooping, could be the mouth of Eleonora Duse. But her chin is too pointed - an indication of practical thinking. (...)
I have studied it stroke by stroke. With the simple uderstanding of a village boy.
In those days..
When lucky chance favoured me and I , a brick-layer, made my entrance into the castle of Kuchelna. In those days, when her eyes occasionally rested upon me and awekened me and made me think: Here is a great personality. (...)
Mechtilde Licnowsky by Oscar Kokoschka
Eduardo Graf Lichnowsky