was either William Shakespeare or Zsa Zsa Gabor who said the course
of true love never runs smooth but is more like driving your shiny
new Lexus down a long dirt road filled with ruts, washouts and cattle
To me the amazing thing about love is how often it works out despite
the normal and inevitable hazards of being human. Take the case of
Friedrich and Emma Schnerr.
Friedrich Wilhelm Schnerr was born in Frankfurt into a family of wealth
and privilege. He fell in love with Emma Schneider, but not everyone
approved of the relationship. Emma was a commoner and beneath his
Friedrich and Emma married anyway but decided a change of scenery
was in order. In the early 1850s they came to the Baron's Creek settlement
in the Texas Hill
Friedrich Schnerr was an educated man who seemed ill equipped for
life on the frontier. He was a farmer, but his heart wasn't always
in it. To find happiness he often retreated into the world of books.
By all accounts Emma was upbeat and outgoing. She cooked, sewed and
took care of her family. The couple had four children: Johann, Emma
Caroline, Johanna and Hugo.
Friedrich and Emma spent extended time apart. Friedrich returned to
Germany three times in his life while Emma stayed in Texas.
Despite differences in personality and temperament, Emma and Friedrich
were devoted to each other. Although Friedrich could be distant, he
loved Emma very much.
When Emma died in 1903, Friedrich was lost. He was left to navigate
the world alone and was not too sure he could do it.
Friedrich buried Emma in Der Stadt Friedhof in Fredericksburg.
He left the grave unmarked for several years because he could find
no tombstone to express his feelings about losing Emma. He ordered
one but threw it away after he saw it.
That's when Elisabet
Ney heard the story of Friedrich and Emma and offered her services.
Ney was born in Westphalia in 1833. As a child she showed the makings
of an artist. Her father, a stone carver, sent her to school in Munich
where she studied with some of the foremost sculptors in the world.-
She traveled throughout Europe carving busts of famous people including
Garibaldi and Bismarck.
In 1863 Ney married Edmund Montgomery, a Scottish physician and scientist.
They immigrated to Georgia and then to Waller
County, Texas. In Texas Ney took care of her family and ran their
plantation. She abandoned her art for 20 years.
Then in the 1880s Elisabet Ney visited Austin.
She fell in love with the city on the Colorado. The hills to the west
reminded her of Westphalia.
Austin rekindled her artistic flame. She built a studio
there and started working again.
Ney was a powerful voice for women's rights. She scandalized Texans
by wearing pants and by never bothering to deny reports that she wasn't
married to Dr. Montgomery, the father of her children.
Over the next 15 years she completed life-sized marble statues of
Stephen F. Austin
and Sam Houston.
Both statues are in the state capital. She carved a memorial to General
Albert Sidney Johnston for his grave in the State
Cemetery. She won the recognition in her adopted country that
she already enjoyed in Europe.
By the early 20th Century Elisabet Ney could feel her career and her
life drawing to a close. Then she heard the story of Friedrich and
Emma Schnerr, and the spark came back. She offered to carve a tombstone
for Emma's gave.
| Emma Schnerr
grave in Der Stadt Friedhof in Fredericksburg
Barr, October 2018
| Friedrich Schnerr
Barr, October 2018
| From a block
of marble Ney carved a small angel, a look of wonder on her face,
her chin resting on folded arms.
Friedrich Schnerr found Elisabeth Ney's marble angel a fitting expression
of his love for Emma. Chances are he never knew what a priceless work
of art the artist had given him.
In 1906 Elisabet Ney traveled to Fredericksburg
to see the angel in place. She stayed at the Nimitz
Hotel. The angel was the artist's last work. Elisabet Ney died
in 1907 at her
studio in Austin.
| © Michael
15 , 2018 Column
"Bicentennial Minutes," Fredericksburg Standard, October 27,
"Elisabet Ney, Sculptor," Kerrville Mountain Sun, July 14,
"Letter Box," Fredericksburg Standard, April 30, 1942.
The Handbook of Texas