Amalie Rothschild, 85, artist, philanthropist, museum board member

November 06, 2001|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Amalie Rothschild, a well-known artist, philanthropist and advocate for fellow painters and sculptors, died Sunday of cancer at her Pikesville home. She was 85.

In her 65 years as a Baltimore artist, she exhibited works, taught, served on the boards of cultural institutions and arranged art shows.

"She was one of the leading artists of her time in this area," said John Dorsey, retired Sun art critic. "Her work is thoroughly modern and related to geometric abstraction, but without losing the figure. It has emotional reserve, often contains a hint of humor and at times recalls the childlike sagacity of the great Paul Klee."

Born and raised in Baltimore, Amalie Getta Rosenfeld was a 1932 graduate of Western High School. She graduated in 1934 from the Maryland Institute College of Art, where she majored in fashion illustration. At age 18, she was drawing lingerie ads for the May Co. bargain basement, but lost her job when she placed unconventional faces on her figures.

She then studied with private teachers and submitted her work to well-known painter Herman Maril for critiques. In 1939, her paintings were first displayed at the Baltimore Museum of Art. Not long after, one of her canvases, Slum Clearance, was purchased by art connoisseur Duncan Phillips for his Phillips Collection in Washington.

In 1936, she married Randolph S. Rothschild, an attorney whose family owned Sun Life Insurance Co. of America. The couple built a Pikesville home where she worked in a studio equipped with metal and woodworking tools -- band saw, drill press and lathe.

"She had a marvelous studio, a separate building in the woods, bright, light, with many colors -- magenta, orange, gold, blues and purples," said former Maryland Institute teacher William Steinmetz. "It was an exciting spot with sophisticated equipment where she could make precise, organized and conceptional pieces. She experimented with many media -- wood, plastic, metal, paper."

She was a founder in 1952 of the Baltimore Outdoor Art Festival, which was held for many years around the Druid Hill Park reservoir. About 25 years later, she was a member of the Inner Harbor Sculpture Committee and commissioned the Kenneth Snelson work in front of the Maryland Science Center. She also selected art for Baltimore area subway stations.

As she continued to sketch, paint and build sculptural pieces, she became an advocate for artists. She was a founder in 1959 of Gallery One, an artists' cooperative showcase on 25th Street. In 1985, she received the Maryland Institute's Distinguished Alumni Award and joined its board of trustees six years later.

"She was generous with all kinds of arts groups. Her interest was with students and helping students move forward in their careers," said Fred Lazarus, Maryland Institute president.

"Her interest was always in what was new, what was coming, what was important today and tomorrow. She spoke her mind, was never afraid to be critical, but not in a negative way," Mr. Lazarus said.

Mrs. Rothschild, who taught at Goucher College from 1960 to 1968, had been a board member of Maryland Art Place on Saratoga Street. She also was a former Baltimore Museum of Art board member and president of the Artists' Union of Baltimore.

Last year, the University of Maryland, College Park awarded her its Lifetime Achievement Award.

Services will be held at 1 p.m. today at Sol Levinson & Bros., 8900 Reisterstown Road, Pikesville.

In addition to her husband, she is survived by two daughters, Amalie Randolph Rothschild of Rome and Adrien Rothschild of Aspers, Pa.

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