Lisbeth Munch-Petersen

Lisbeth Munch-Petersen was a Danish ceramist born in 1909 on the island of Bornholm, Denmark.

Lisbeth Munch-Petersen

Lisbeth Munch-Petersen was a Danish ceramist born in 1909 on the island of Bornholm, Denmark. She was born into the Hjorth family of potters on Bornholm, where her grandfather, L. Hjorth, founded the famous L. Hjorths Terracotta Factory in Rønne, where her father, Hans Hjorth, was a figure maker. Despite growing up in a home that was a center for artists of the time, including Oluf Høst, Olaf Rude, and Niels Lergaard, Lisbeth and her sister Gertrud were not encouraged to work with ceramics, even though they played with clay and drew as children. Her father was interested in ceramics, art, music, theater, and literature, while her mother trained as a watercolor painter at Kristian Zahrtmann's school and designed her own furniture.

After graduating from Rønne Statsskole in 1928, Lisbeth enrolled in the ceramics class at the Museum of Decorative Arts' School of Crafts, where she fell in love with clay and graduated in 1930. She then got a job in Hans and Grethe Syberg's pottery in Valby. Occasionally she visited the School of Arts and Crafts, where her sister Gertrud was studying, and together they attended an evening school set up by the sculptor Olaf Stæhr-Nielsen.

Together with her sister, Lisbeth Munch-Petersen returned to Bornholm in 1933 and, with the help of her father, set up a joint workshop in Gudhjem, the first of the island's many small ceramic workshops. Between 1933 and 1935 they worked and exhibited together. Their signature was an L and a G fitted into an H scratched into the shard. They were well-liked by the residents of Gudhjem, selling mainly to tourists, but also to several artists, including Rude. In 1936 the joint workshop ceased, as they had both married, had children and wanted to try something new.

Lisbeth Munch-Petersen found her lasting source of inspiration in the colors and organic forms of nature, an inspiration she shared with the artists who spent their summers on Bornholm, such as Richard Mortensen. She also found her preferred medium: hard-fired earthenware, which did not require such high firing temperatures as stoneware clay. The clay was found in Salenebugten bay east of Gudhjem and was brought in by horse-drawn cart, then worked by hand to remove impurities, sulfur, and other particles. Later, Lisbeth Munch-Petersen used pre-packed clay together with the Salen clay.

In 1938, she was widowed and left alone with two little girls after her husband, the poet Gustav Munch-Petersen, was killed as a volunteer in the Spanish Civil War. The following year, she traveled to Copenhagen and worked at the Saxbo stoneware factory, where she came into contact with two other prominent ceramicists, Edith Sonne and Lisa Engqvist. At the outbreak of the Second World War, Lisbeth Munch-Petersen felt that her family would be safer on Bornholm, so in the spring of 1940 she returned to Gudhjem.

Lisbeth Munch-Petersen continued working and exhibiting until her death in 1998. Her work is represented in numerous public collections, including the Danish Museum of Decorative Art, the Museum of National History at Frederiksborg Castle, and the Bornholm Art Museum.

Throughout her career, Lisbeth Munch-Petersen maintained a distinct style and dedication to her craft, drawing inspiration from nature and the island of Bornholm. Her contributions to Danish ceramics have been recognized and celebrated, making her one of the most important ceramists of her time.

Today, her legacy lives on, and her work continues to inspire new generations of ceramic artists.