GIFTED SON OF A DEMANDING FATHER
This Otto (1867-1924), the third in the line of his father with this name, was the eldest son of Wilhelm and Helena and born in the family home and workshop in the Kapittelstraße in Burtscheid, a neighbourhood of Aix-la-Chapelle. When he was two years old, his parents moved to Utrecht, to their first home at ‘t Hoogt 10. There his famous brother Willem (1871-1951), the conductor, was born in 1871.
Otto married to Elisabeth Schnaas (1870-1944) born in Cologne. The marriage took place in Elberfeld, where her parents lived; the town was very well known to his family. The couple got ten children, who all reached maturity. The eldest son, Willem (1897-1969) will continue the artistic line of his family.
Otto was a smart boy, talented with artistic possibilities, but he had his problems. At least one can assume he had; he tried to break loose from his father and to choose his direction. The founding of his workshop in glass-painting in Rijsenburg in 1896, seemed to be an example of this need to break free. In Rijsenburg he was the neighbour of a member of the Bernulpusguild and Utrechter Quartet, Heinrich Geuer. Perhaps they worked together in these years. Heinrich moved away in 1904, but his son Frits took over the studio till 1908. Otto had tried earlier to make a living out of photography but did not continue in this field of practice. Private correspondence between him and his father and of his mother with Willem (1871) indicates this. He was the right hand of his father and designed some of the most successful objects produced by the atelier in Utrecht. His sketchbooks, some have survived, are impressive. He travelled together with his father to Italy and represented him frequently at the gatherings and on the excursions of the St. Bernulphusguild. He was also appointed as the translator for the journey of the Belgian brother guild St. Thomas and Luke to London, but that was not a great success. From the letters, we can conclude he had a problem with drinking. Nevertheless, he became at a young age the manager of the departments of the mural- and glass painting and sculpting in his father’s workshop. In 1890 he designed and fabricated the high altar in the S. Willibrordus in Utrecht. An impressive, profane commission was the painted window for the inauguration of Wilhelmina for the Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam. He designed numerous glasses for churches in the Netherlands and Germany, f.e. in Schagen, Breukelen, Utrecht and Paderborn. He outsourced the production of his work to firms in Düsseldorf, like Blaschke et Co. He had not the machinery for this at home, In 1908 he returned to Utrecht and founded a workshop at the Stationsplein 17, where his son Willem (1897) later moved in.
The remaining fragments of his murals are very impressive as in the S. Josef in Krefeld. He developed his style with Beuronesk elements. His windows are very traditional but have in some cases the monumentality of his murals. Besides objects and paintings, he designed tapestries and numerous banners for processions, illustrations and coins. He was a member of the Bernulphusguild and 'the Violier' in Amsterdam, like his brother Hans, but not an active participant as his father and his colleague Jan Hendrik Brom were.
In 1905 Wilhelm altered the legal construction of his workshop and made his sons Otto and Hans official partners in a venture. He ‘retired’ more or less. In 1908 this construction became legal. Willem (1871) was the president of the board and Otto and Hans were the directors of the ‘NV Utrechtse Maatschappij tot vervaardiging van Kerk- en Huissieraden en Versieringen, voorheen Fr. W. Mengelberg’. The board existed of W. Mengelberg, T. Mengelberg-Wubbe, mr F.A.F.C. Schröder, J.G. Beukers, Jr.mr. L. von Fisenne G.H. de Marez Oijens and F. Twaalfhoven.
ANCIENT THEMES PRESENTED IN A MODERN WAY
Hans (1885-1945) was the youngest son of Wilhelm and Helena, born in the flowering period of the Mengelberg-atelier in Utrecht. He became a sculptor, painter and interior decorator. He managed the department of the production of furniture. His works are all concentrated in the Netherlands. He produced altar for churches in Barneveld, the S. Catharine; Oldenzaal, the Holy Trinity church, Oosterhout en Silvolde. He made 'The way of the Cross' for S. Petrus Banden in Soest and the interior of the former H. Heart church in Utrecht. In this town, he made the murals depicting scenes from the life of S. Anthony in the Antonius chapel, murals in the S. Gertrudis in Utrecht, the chapel of the college of S. Ignatius in Amsterdam and the pulpit in the S. Joseph church in Zeist. He was also responsible for the mural decoration in the Krijtbergkerk in Amsterdam, for which he used a specific kind of paint, known as 'Keim paint'. In 1927 he asked the painter and sculptor Herman Walstra (1888-1977) to join him in his atelier.
His first object was a statue of Maria for the chapel of Our Lady in Heiloo (1909) after an example of the 17th century. His last altar in neo-Gothic style was perhaps a baldachino altar in the S. Josef church in Zeist dated from 1924, not there anymore. From this time onwards he worked in the modernist style of the Art Deco and ‘Nieuwe Zakelijkheid’, a mode that seemed to fit him very well. Although his style was modern, his themes, subjects and representation were not as can be seen in various designs from the late twenties and early thirties. He was in that sense a true son of his father.
In 1929 he married to Maria Brood: the couple stayed childless. After his marriage, he tried to obtain commissions for the Holland America Line and produced some works for ships together with other craftsmen. He had a lively contact with his brother Willem (1871) who lent him now and then money and gave him commissions for print work for the orchestra in Amsterdam and interior decoration in a room of the opera house. The interior decoration of the chapel in the second home of Willem in Switzerland, 'Chasa', was produced by Hans.
After the death of Otto (1924), he continued under the name ‘Hans Mengelbergs’ kerkelijke interieurkunst’. On can find this firm in the register of the Chamber of Commerce in Utrecht. He had a workshop at the Nieuwe Gracht 33 in Utrecht, but due to financial problems and severe conditions of the house, he had to move to the outskirts of the town in 1934, Balijelaan 91. He lived the last years of his life in poverty. He died just before Liberation day in 1945.