Mattie Lietz

Variant Names: 
Mathilda Lietz
Birth Date: 
Birth Place: 
Peoria, IL
Death Date: 
Death Place: 
Grand Detour, IL
Active In: 
Peoria, IL
Hoosier Salon, ca 1930s.
AIC 1940
National Academy of Design, NYC
Burpee Art Gallery, Rockford, IL
Chicago Gallery Association
Painters and Sculptors Association, Chicago.
All-Illinois Society of Fine Arts, Chicago, 1946
Tipton (IN) Library.
Norton Art Gallery, West Palm Beach, FL
Brauer Museum of Art, Valparaiso University, Valparaiso, IN
Mattie Lietz 1893 – 1956

By Duane Paulsen

Born in Peoria, Mattie Lietz was a painter and teacher who spent most of her career in Illinois. She studied at Butler College in Irvington, Indiana and at the Art Institute of Chicago with Frederick Grant, George Elmer Browne, and John Thomas Nolf. She was a member of the Chicago Galleries Association and exhibited in New York at the National Academy of Design.

She also exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Hoosier Salon in Indiana, the All-Illinois Fine Art Association, and the National Academy of Water Colors. Her work is in the collection of the Tipton Indiana Public Library, Cossett School in La Grange, Illinois, and the Norton Art Gallery in Palm Beach, Florida. In April 1941, Mattie had a canvas in the Davenport Municipal Art Gallery. It was a part of a showcase of artists along the Mississippi Exhibition. In 1946 she won the All-Illinois Society of Fine Arts prize for a watercolor figure painting.

Mattie studied under John Nolf in Chicago and in 1936 began to stay summers in Grand Detour with the burgeoning Art Colony. The Grand Detour artist’s colony was put on hold during World War II; but by 1946, Mattie was conducting art classes in the village. According to the August 12, 1946 edition of The Telegraph: “Artists, both well established and amateur…Miss Lietz, who also teaches painting in oil and water color, has gathered about her a group of students who range from teen-aged grade school pupils to housewives who dabble in oils as a hobby…Originally from LaGrange, Miss Lietz has been spending summers in Grand Detour and winters in Oak Park for the last ten years, and in Oak Park studied under John Nolf. She plans to spend her first winter in Grand Detour this year, continuing her studies under the colony’s ‘mayor’ …John Nolf.” The Telegraph described Mattie: “The tall artist, whose fair hair is cropped short, has won distinction for her ability to paint with strength and breadth.”

Mattie’s students stayed in the Colonial Inn, 8230 South Green Street, when they were in Grand Detour studying under Lietz. She was known for driving a hard bargain with the innkeeper to obtain the best rates for her students. She said that she liked to teach because it permitted her to paint what she wanted to paint rather than what the public would buy. At one point she burned several of her paintings because she had too many and fewer paintings would keep the price up.

She served as an instructor at the Burpee Art Gallery in Rockford and was listed in the Dictionary of Women Artists, an international dictionary of women artists born before 1900 by Chris Pettys. She was also included in Who Was Who in American Art,/em>.

Mattie moved to Grand Detour permanently in 1946. John Nolf’s wife had died in 1939, and eventually Mattie Lietz moved in with him—a scandal in those days. They were very much involved in the life of the community, and they held several combined exhibits in the Grand Detour town hall. When John died in 1950, she inherited his house, Whip-poor-will, and continued conducting art classes in the upstairs studio. She sold off the remainder of Nolf’s paintings. When Mattie died, four out of the five Grand Detour art group members who had been on the scene since the 1920’s, were gone.

Received from Colleen and Bob Logsdon, authors of The Phidian Art Club 1890-2009