A German gentleman, Wolfgang Ulbrich of St. Wendel, Germany – a town of 26,000 inhabitants in the Saarland – was staging an exhibition in St. Wendel on the life and work of the German-born American painter Nicola Marschall. He learned from me that one of Herr Marschall’s paintings, titled Young Girl with a Cat, painted in the mid-19th century, was in the Morris Museum’s collection.
Herr Ulbrich contacted the Morris Museum here in Augusta to solicit their help in including a photographic facsimile of Young Girl with a Cat as part of the exhibition in St. Wendel, which is the birthplace of the painter.
Rather than sending a photo of Young Girl with a Cat to Herr Ulbrich to display in St. Wendel, the Morris Museum stunned all concerned by donating two original portraits by Herr Marschall to the town of St. Wendel.
Because my involvement has been with Herr Ulbrich in Germany and with Nancy Hitt, an art historian in Louisville, Ky., rather than with the Morris Museum, I don’t know any further details of the museum’s decision to make a gift of the paintings. But I do know that it speaks volumes about the generosity of at least a few people here in Augusta. Would that there were more such acts of generosity in the world!
The exhibition opened in St. Wendel during the first week of September, and drew so much interest that it was extended past its original closing date.
Nicola Marschall settled in America to pursue a career as a portrait painter, and he enjoyed great success as such. When the Confederate government formed in 1861, it appointed Herr Marschall, a Kentuckian by adoption, to design the First National Flag of the Confederacy, known also as the Stars and Bars. The government asked him also to design the Confederate Army uniform, which he did. Thus did Marschall play an unusual but significant role in the history of our country.
I simply want to make known to your readers the Morris Museum’s generosity, which has gained for Augusta a reputation of generosity in Germany. The name of our city will be known henceforth as the home of the Morris Museum of Art as well as of the Masters Tournament – and not, I think, as the home of Georgia Regents University.