Much has been written about Michael Ende’s father, but comparatively little is known of his mother, Luise Bartholoma. Ende described her as a small but energetic woman, whose life was shaped by the early loss of both parents. She was born in Neunkirchen in Saarland, western Germany, but was orphaned at the age of four. She soon learnt to stick up for herself during her years at the orphanage: ‘She loved and hated more ferociously than anyone I’ve ever met. The little that my family owned was all down to her energy (…) for my father seldom sold any of his paintings.’ Over time, Luise Ende began to use her contacts to find potential buyers for her husband’s artwork. She was devoted to her son.
Luise Ende didn’t start painting until late in life. Her works, painted in tempera on treated plywood, use poetic and tender scenes to tell of childhood memories and forgotten fairytales. Michael Ende kept a series of the paintings until his death, and they can now be seen in the author’s archive in Munich.