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Therese Vallent (1863-?)

  • Mondblume Eroses. Bleistift auf Papier, 87 x 60 cm, 1899

Alle Bilder: © Elmar R. Gruber

Vallport

In 1899, the housewife Therese Vallent made a name for herself as a mediumistic artist. In no time she was known throughout Europe as the "moon painter".

Vallent, who was born in Austria, was the wife of a French musician from the Royal Hungarian Opera Orchestra in Budapest. At the age of 36, she was engaged in spiritualistic séances at the insistence of her husband. She hoped to receive messages from the beyond and to write them down automatically. Instead of a text, her hand began to draw in a gestural manner a variety of lines and curlicues close together and an arabesque, which eventually became plant-like object. Thus she created "flowers from the moon" on large sheets of paper, which were given strange names. Her spiritual guide by the name of Ralf claimed to be the originator of these works. In addition to the plants from the moon she later also drew grotesque animals, which were designated as “inhabitants of the moon”.

Therese Vallent drew in a peculiar manner with bluntly cut pencils. She held the pencil vertically over the paper. Without supporting the arm, she knocked the pencil on the paper in rapid succession like a machine. Finally, her hand carried out energetic hurling movements, throwing seemingly random strokes on the paper from which the shape of the drawing emerged.

A scandal in Vienna made her famous overnight: the police prohibited an exhibition of her works and a public demonstration of her mediumistic drawings. All the newspapers reported on this case, and now the interest in the moon painter was aroused even more. The famous Spiritualist author, baroness Adelma of Vay, as well as the celebrated French astronomer and occultist Camille Flammarion announced their visit. The Munich artist Professor Gabriel von Max noticed about her drawings that he had "not yet seen such a virtuoso technique".

Therese Vallent toured in Europe and demonstrated her skills. After her meteoric rise, she disappeared from the scene as early as 1900. We do not know what has become of Therese Vallent. Her drawings survived only as reproductions in newspapers and magazines. A single original by Therese Vallent is known today, the moon flower "Eroses", drawn on July 2, 1899.