Fidelis Bentele | Georg Bentele-Ücker

Porträtbüste Fidelis Bentele, angefertigt von Georg Bentele-Ücker

Fidelis Bentele

1905 – 1987

Fidelis Bentele - an artist in the style of Barlach

Illness as an artistic catalyst

Fidelis Bentele was born on 26 August 1905 in Buchenegg near Oberstaufen. The son of a farmer, he was a weak, sickly child who contracted meningitis at the age of five and suffered the consequences for years. When he was eight years old, he became temporarily completely paralysed. This fateful event would not only have lifelong consequences for his health. A teacher gave the boy, who was confined to bed for months and therefore unable to go to school, modelling clay as a consolation and pastime. Fidelis began kneading and modelling with it: nativity figures, figures from the Bible, from Allgäu fairy tales and legends as well as imaginative heads. When he began to try his hand at carving, his parents sent him to the Allger siblings in Zell near Oberstaufen, who taught him how to carve.

Training: discovered and encouraged by Louise Dumont
Another event set the course for his artistic path: meeting Louise Dumont, a well-known actress and director of the Düsseldorf theatre. She became aware of the creative boy after she and her husband had purchased a property near Kempten in 1919, where they spent their holidays and where Fidelis’ parents worked as caretakers. Dumont recognised the boy’s talent, took him to Düsseldorf and provided him with artistic training from the painter and sculptor Erich Kuhn on the Feldberg in the Black Forest. He then attended the State Woodcarving School in Oberammergau under the direction of Joseph Fassnacht and studied under Professors Karl Killer and Adolf Fleischmann at the Munich Art Academy.

International reputation as an outstanding portraitist
From 1930, Bentele moved his centre of life back to Oberstaufen, but in the meantime maintained a studio in Kempten as well as a studio in Munich, which was destroyed in a bombing raid in 1944 along with its contents. He became famous with the bust of Cardinal Count von Galen, which he created in Münster in 1943. Word of his talent and artistic expressiveness in the field of portrait modelling spread and led to numerous other commissions from famous personalities of the time. He travelled extensively and met church dignitaries up to Pope Pius XII, doctors, writers, musicians, painters and actors, some of whom also came to Oberstaufen to have their portraits sculptured by him. His works have been presented and honoured in numerous exhibitions in many countries and have cemented his international reputation as an outstanding sculptor.

Sculptor of sacred and profane works

In addition to portraits, he created sacred works that can be seen in churches, monasteries and cemeteries, as well as a large number of profane figures that sold well.

Bentele’s artistic signature is reminiscent of the style of Ernst Barlach, who was a great role model for him.

Fidelis Bentele died on 8 June 1987 in Oberstaufen, where he is also buried.

Awards and honours

1953 Medal Grand Salon, Paris
1960 Diploma International Art Guild, Monte Carlo
1967 Ring of honour of the district of Oberallgäu
1970 Diploma International Biennale, London
1972 Gold Medal Paternoster Corner Academy, London
1972 Inauguration of the Fidelis-Bentele-Straße in Oberstaufen
Certificate with plaque from Pope Pius XII
Award of the Bavarian Order of Merit
Civic medal of the market town of Oberstaufen
Federal Cross of Merit on Ribbon