Pauline Augusta Wilhelmina “Nita” Spilhaus was born in Lisbon in 1878. Died: 1967.
She was orphaned in her infancy and was raised by her grandfather in Lübeck. During the period 1896 – 1907, Nita studied first at the Lübeck School of Art, and then furthered her studies in Munich at a number of art schools, also spending two summers in the artists’ colony in Dachau just outside the city. For two years she concentrated on assembling her first portfolio of etchings, sketches of her home town of Lübeck, and this was published in 1901.
At the end of 1907, Nita moved from the hub of the European art world to Cape Town to live with her uncle. She gradually made friends with artists all of whom had been trained in Europe and were struggling to adapt their techniques to South African conditions.
During the First World War, being a German National Nita was forbidden to engage with others outdoors. This limited her subject matter dramatically, and she therefore turned to portraits and flower-studies that could easily be done in the confinement of her home.
After her marriage to Dr Simon in 1921, she continued to paint and draw, establishing a clear path for herself as an artist from which she never deflected. In 1925 the couple moved to Munich but Nita continued to exhibit her work regularly in South Africa. By 1938 they had returned to Cape Town. Nita continued her work, producing a set of etchings for the Cape Times and a later etchings entitled Trees.
In the 1950’s she drew and painted in her new surroundings in the Jonkershoek Valley progressively losing her eyesight until she was no longer able to continue. She died in Rondebosch in 1967.