Berta Hummel, who was born in Bavaria in 1909 and trained as an artist, applied to the Congregation of the Franciscan Sister of Siessen in 1931. When she took her first vows in 1934, she became Sister Maria Innocentia. In her spare time at the convent, Hummel continued to paint and draw happy, large-headed, wide-eyed children, often with animals.

Her fellow nuns were wowed by her artwork, and after some convincing, she allowed them to send some of her pieces to publishers of religious art. Emil Fink Verlag printed popular postcards from her paintings, as well as a book called “Das Hummel-Buch” with her drawings and poetry by Margarete Seemann. Ars Sacra Josef Müller Verlag, a publisher of prayer books, religious prints, and holy cards now known as ArsEditions, also began to print many of Sister M.I. Hummel’s images.

Some of Hummel’s Christmas and New Year’s cards caught the attention of Franz Goebel, the head of Goebel pottery, in December 1933. Goebel approached the convent with the concept of turning the nun’s painting into three-dimensional figurines. The letter granting Goebel permission had the caveat that the convent had to approve all Hummel figurine designs before they could be mass produced.

Once the company had permission, Goebel began to experiment with molds and earthenware models. Goebel debuted the Hummel figurines at the Leipzig Trade Fair in March of 1935, where they received much acclaim. By the end of the year, Goebel had added 46 figures to the Hummel line. The profit became a source of income for the convent.

When she released the painting, “The Volunteers” depicting hapless boys being sent off to war with the line, “Dear Fatherland, let there be peace!” in 1937, Hummel drew the scorn of Adolf Hitler, who objected to German youth being depicted as “brainless sissies” with “hydrocephalic heads.” Hummel also didn’t shy away from Jewish imagery, like the Star of David and menorahs, in her religious artworks. The Nazi government let her continue to paint, but they banned the reproduction and sales of her work in the country.

Early in World War II, the Nazis shut down all religious schools in the country, including the school at Siessen. In 1940, Nazi officials took over the convent, forcing more than 200 of the nuns to leave, allowing only 40 to stay as prisoners, with no heat or income and little food. Hummel had gone home to her family, but requested to come back within three months, as she missed the Sisters. By then, the Nazis had made off with half of the money Hummel had earned for the convent. Sister Hummel fell ill with tuberculosis in 1944, and died on November 6, 1946, at age 37.

Goebel’s production of Hummel figurines died down during World War II and, toward the end of the war, halted completely. In the United States, a subsidiary of Ars Sacra, produced...

Between 1946 and 1949, the United States Military Occupation Government gave Goebel permission to resume production. Men in the occupational forces were quite charmed by the Hummel figurines and brought them home as gifts for their wives, children, and extended families. That’s when the popularity of these figurines exploded in the United States.

The talented sculptors and painters at Goebel continued to reproduce original Hummel pieces as well as new Hummel figurines until 2008, when the factory in Rödental closed. However, a company called Rödental, lead by Jörg Koster, took over the manufacturing of Hummel figurines in 2009, after hiring many former Goebel employees who had worked on the Hummel line and receiving blessings from the Siessen convent and Hummel’s family.

Most authentic Hummel pieces bear an incised “M.I. Hummel” signature, with the exception of a few figures that were too small to incise. The oldest Hummel figurines, those manufactured between 1935 and 1950, also feature Goebel’s “crown-WG” mark with a drawing of a crown indicating the company’s loyalty to the monarchy in 1900 and the initials “WG” for founder William Goebel. Between 1946 and 1948, a Hummel piece would also indicate that it was made in the occupied zone, and between 1948 and 1949, in West Germany.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

V&A Porcelain Figures

V&A Porcelain Figures

The Victoria and Albert Museum’s online collection of Meissen porcelain figures includes more than 150 pieces, in… [read review or visit site]



Most watched eBay auctions    

Goebel Hummel - "strike Up The Band", #668 -tmk7- Mint W/ Box & Coa! No Reserve!Hummel Follow The LeaderVintage Hummel Goebel - Ring Around The Rosie, #348, Tmk3 Excellent ConditionNo Crazing Heavenly Angel Xmas Goebel Hummel Figurine Perfect Condition 7 InchesHummel Figurine Bashful Serenade 2133 Tmk 8 First Issue 2002 No ReserveNo Crazing ! Angel Serenade Christmas Goebel Hummel Figurine Perfect Condition !Celestial Musician Christmas Angel Vintage Tmk4 Goebel Hummel Figurine 7 InchesHummel Goebel Figurine 88/i Tmk 5 Heavenly Protection N433 QcHummel Figurine #394 "timid Little Sister" Tmk 6Goebel Hummel 7.5-inch Umbrella Boy/umbrella Girl Figurines 152a And 152bHummel Goebel Vintage 1956 "doll Bath" 319 Figurine Made In W Germany Hosanna Angel Christmas Nativity Goebel Mint Hummel Figurine Original Box !Hummel 13" Porcelain Doll, Apple Tree Boy And Apple Tree GirlHummel Goebel Figurine 177/i School Girls Tmk 4 Large Tall 7 1/2" Rare I'm Carefree Goebel Hummel Figurine Rear Signature Variation Original Box !Goebel ( M.i. Hummel ) Mail Is Here Clock Tower By Olszewski W/ Base & DomeRare Vintage/antique Goebel Standing French Bulldog #156 Porcelain Figurine-mintHummel #2051/a Once Upon A Time With Musical Christmas Time Scape Both MintHummel Goebel Vintage "stormy Weather" Figurine Made In W GermanyHummel #2121 Soap Box Derby In White Glaze W/black Velvet Base And MedallionHummel #187 Dealer Display Plaque Tmk 2 Full Bee E30Hummel Goebel Figurine 10/1 Tmk 2 Flower Madonna N404 QsHummel Goebel 731 - Best Friends, Tmk8 Oe !!Hummel Goebel 196/0 - Telling Her Secret, Two Girls,tmk6 !! W/ BoxHummel Goebel 471 - Harmony In Four Parts, 4 Boys Singing In Chorus, Tmk6Hummel Figurine Cinderella #337 Tmk 6 Mint Condition No ReserveHummel Goebel Figurine 306 Tmk 4 Little Bookkeeper Z854 QsHummel Goebel 334, Tmk6 - Homeward Bound (new Style)mibGoebel Hummel Figurine- "not For You" , #317 -tmk5 - Gorgeous! No Reserve!Hummel Peaceful Offering Figurine & Scape 2066 Ltd Ed Tmk7 4-1/2"Very Rare Christmas Morning Only 4,000 Goebel Hummel Figurine Perfect ConditionLarge Hummel Land In Sight Pristine Condition Limited Issue 1992 Complete W/box5 Pc. Vintage Hummel Nativity Group Virgin Mary Jesus Lamb Goodnight & OthersHummel Goebel 353/i - Spring Dance,two Girls Dancing, Tmk4. Mint Condition!Rare Crown Mark Us Zone German Hummel Figurine Just Resting #112 Bks $850 NrHummel Figurine Adoration #23/1 Tmk 5 No ReserveHummel Goebel Vintage 1960 "big Housecleaning" 363 Figurine Made In W Germany Honey Lover Mint Goebel Hummel Figurine Tmk7 Adorable Original Box !!Goebel Hummel Figurine- "heavenly Angel", #21/0 1/2 -tmk6- Gorgeous! No Reserve!Hummel Feeding Time Girl Feeding Chickens 199/0 4 1/4" Tmk-6 (5761)Hummel Goebel Figurine 311 Tmk 5 Kiss Me Z860 QsHummel Land In SightHummel Goebel Figurine 152 A Tmk 3 Umbrella Boy Large N376 QsVtg. Hummel Telling Her Secret.196/0 1948 Tmk-4 5 1/4 Inches. NiceVintage Hummel Figurine: Stormy WeatherHummel Goebel Figurine 23 / I Tmk 1 Adoration Incised Crown Z850 QsVintage Mi Hummel Goebel Figurine "sensitive Hunter" Tmk-1 (1934-1950) Hum #6/0Mib Hummel Figurine Berlin Airlift Memorial Edition Auf Wiedersehen 153/0 & BoxHummel Goebel 343 - Christmas Song,little Angel With Lantern And Star, Tmk6No Crazing ! Christmas Song Angel Goebel Hummel Figurine Perfect Condition !Vintage 1971 Hummel Annual Plate #264 Nice In BoxHummel Apple Tree Girl 141/3/0 4" Tmk-3 & Apple Tree Boy 142/3/0 4" Tmk-3 (5755)Goebel Hummel Figurine " Watchful Angel " 194 Tmk 5 6" TallGoebel Hummel Figurine- "the Little Pair" , #449 -tmk7 - Mint! No Reserve!Goebel Hummel #660 Fond Good-bye Century Collection Original Box Germany Tmk 7Hummel 2001 Tmk 9 - Christmas Is Coming - Rare - Mib W CertificateHummel Goebel 911 - Harmony & Lyric, Tmk8 !!Goebel Charlot Byj Redhead #90 Nothing Beats A PizzaHummel Goebel Figurine 184 Tmk 2 Latest News Full Bee Incised Munchener Z855 QsHummel Figurine Star Gazer #132 Tmk 6 Mint Condition No Reserve