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Robert Sterl

Robert und Helene Sterl, um 1927

Blick von Stadt Wehlen, um 1928

Helene Landgraf mit Gast, 1977

History of the Robert-Sterl-Haus

The Robert-Sterl-Haus is one of the few preserved personal residences of an artist in Germany. In 1919 Professor Robert Sterl and his wife Helene purchased a house in Naundorf (Number 40) and moved from Dresden into the region known as “Saxon Switzerland”. Sterl had an atelier built as an extension to the house. Conveniently located near the train station, the well-known painter could travel easily between the city of Wehlen and Dresden where he continued to teach at the Academy of Art. When Sterl acquired the house it boasted an unhindered view of both the city of Wehlen and the Elbe River valley. Within 80 years, the sloping landscape became covered in trees. Since 1998, the grounds near the house have been carefully returned to their more garden-like original state. Since 1999, following a partial renovation, the house interior has been restored to its original colour scheme.

In their joint will of 1931, Robert and Helene Sterl, who remained childless, provided for the establishment of the Robert and Helene Sterl Foundation. It was meant to offer students from the Dresden Academy of Art the possibility of employment at the Naundorf residence. Helene Sterl survived her husband by 18 years and suffered severe financial setbacks following the post-World War II currency reform. In order to provide for herself, she was forced to sell a number of her husband’s works. After her death in 1950, the financial means were lacking for creating the foundation as originally intended. As a result, the foundation’s governing body along with the will’s executor decided to allow the integration of the Robert and Helene Sterl Foundation as a dependent body into the Sammelstiftungen des Bezirks Dresden, the region’s charitable foundations administered by the city of Dresden. The organization still represents the museum today in its standing as a legally-separate charitable foundation and, in addition to its other efforts in the areas of philanthropy and culture, has been active for over five decades in providing significant material and human resources for the preservation of the Robert-Sterl-Haus as an art museum and research archive.

The Robert Sterl Prize, given to master class students at Dresden’s art conservatory, is meant to commemorate Robert Sterl’s legacy. For over 40 years, Helene Landgraf, who began managing the Sterl’s household in 1937, cared for the Robert-Sterl-Haus in every respect. Since 1981, the Robert-Sterl-Haus has been administered by a professional art curator.