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    

Large Hummel Goebel Figurine #177/i School Girls Tmk 6 Measures 7.5" Tall Z35Hummel Goebel Figurine "little Fiddler" Tmk 2 Full Bee Incised Crown 11" Tall 37""century Collection"" Mi Hummel Goebel Figurine "fanfare" Hum 1999 Tmk 7Hummel Goebel Large Figurine A Story From Grandma #620 Tmk7 Box, Coa Limited EdHummel Tmk3 Friends 136/ V Large 11" Tall By 8" LongHummel 353/i Spring Dance 6,75" Tall By 5.5" Wide Hummel Goebel Large Figurine Love's Bounty #751 Tmk7 Century Piece W/ Box & CoaExtremely Rare 10.75" Hummel Figurine "festival Harmony" #172 Tmk-2 (1940-1959) Hummel Goebel Figurine #333 Blessed Event Tmk 6 Measures 5.25" Tall Z39Hummel Goebel Figurine #42/0 Good Shepherd Tmk 2 Full Bee Measures 6.5" Tall Z42Hummel Goebel Stormy Weather No 71 Signed Letter L 6" Tmk1/tmk2 Crown And BeeHummel Umbrella Boy 152 Oa Tmk 5A Lot Of Goebel Hummel FigurinesVntg Hummel Figurine, "stormy Weather" #71 Goebel W. Germany AbHummel Figurine Or Ornament Flying Angel #366 Tmk ? Mint Condition Goebel Hummel Little Bookkeeper Figurine #306 - Tmk4 -w Germany No Reserve MintHummel 348 Ring Around The Rosie Tm3 Hummel Goebel Flower Madonna Mary & Jesus 10/1 Stamped Full Bee Tmk 2 1940-1959Hummel Prayer Before Battle # 20 Tmk 1 Crown Porcelain Painted Signed Figurine Hummel Goebel Large Figurine Fond Good-bye #660 Tmk7 Century Piece W/ Box & CoaHummel Lost Sheep # 68 Tmk 1 Crown Us Zone Germany Signed Porcelain Figurine Nr Hummel Suprise # 94 Tmk 1 Crown Us Zone Germany Signed Group Porcelain FigurineGoebel Hummel Figurine #319 Tmk-4 Doll Bath Bath Time No ReserveRare Hummels ~ Very Large 8"x8" Umbrella Boy And Umbrella Girl~ Perfect Cond Lot 3 Goebel W Germany Hummel Just Dozing Thoughtful Storybook Time CollectibleHummel Goebel Figurine #184 Latest News Tmk 2 Full Bee Measures 5.25" Tall Z334 Hummel Figurines Angel Bookworm Chimney Congratulate Tmk2 Goebel Germany Hummel Happy Pastime # 69 Tmk 1 Crown Us Zone Germany Signed Porcelain Figurine Goebel Hummel Figurine #178 The Photographer 5" Tall Tmk-4 Lot Mj-17Goebel Hummel Figurine # 600 Tmk "we Wish You The Best" 1991 Century CollectionHummel Figurine # 67 Doll Mother Tmk1 Crown Mark Goebel Hummel - Love's Bounty - #751 Tmk 7Hummel #306 Little Bookkeeper Tmk-5Hummel Figurine The Photographer #178 Tmk 8 Mint Condition No ReserveHummel Good Friends # 182 Tmk 1 Crown Us Zone Germany Signed Porcelain FigurineHummel Figurine School Boys 170/1 Tmk 5Hummel Goebel Figurine #226 The Mail Is Here Tmk 4 Measures 4.5" Tall Z41Extremely Rare 11.5" Hummel Figurine "festival Harmony" #173 Tmk-2 (1940-1959) Hummel Mother's Darling # 175 Tmk 1 Crown Us Zone Germany Hp Porcelain FigurineGoebel Hummel Standing Camel Figurine - For Large Nativity Set DamagedGoebel Hummel Figurine #319 Doll Bath 5" Tall Tmk-6 Lot Mj-27Goebel Hummel Figurine #178 The Photographer 5" Tall Tmk-4 Lot Mj-16Mib Vintage German Hummel Figurine Flower Madonna #10/i Tmk6 Bks $500 Mint NrHummel Wooden Calendar W/ Days & Holidays + 12 Porcelain Month Plates In ChestGoebel Hummel Figurine- "whitsuntide" , #163 -tmk5 - Gorgeous! No Reserve!"century Collection" Mi Hummel Goebel Figurine "on Our Way" Hum 475 Tmk 7Goebel Hummel 1992 Limited Edition 1992 Land In Sight Mib W/coa & Coin Nr!Hummel Figurine "umbrella Boy" Hum 152/0/a Trademark 5Elegant Porcelain Fox By Goebel W.germany4 Goebel W Germany Hummel Little Fiddler Morning Concert Sweet Music CarnivalHummel 150/0, 98/0, 197/0, 319 Be Patient, Sister, Happy Days, Doll Bath 4p LotLot Of 10 Hummel Goebel Figurines Bh20 Bh18 239a 478 Berta BirdGoebel Hummel Figurine #71 2/0 Stormy Weather 5" Tall Tmk-6 Lot Mj-30Vintage Goebel Hummel Figurine "little Gardner" 74, Tmk-3 No ReserveVintage Goebel Co-boy Clock "sepp"/porcelain Gnome Figurine On Beer Barrel ClockGoebel Hummel - Storybook Time - #458 Tmk 71950's~hummel 71 "stormy Weather"~tmk2 Full Bee~goebel Porcelain 6 1/2" Figurine Hummel Figurine "night Before Christmas" #2234 Tm8 Box & Coa Perfect ConditionHummel Just Resting # 112/1 Tmk 1 Crown Mark Signed Porcelain Painted Figurine Hummel Figurine Garden Gift #619 Tmk 8 Mint Condition First Issue 2004 Nr