Pia Sophie Roshardt-Meinherz
27th January 1892 Niederuzwil SG - 22nd April 1975 Zürich
Children's Books with Marmots (and a White Hare)
Pia Roshardt was a prolific illustrator of books – albums of plants (flowers and cactus), mostly, but also animals – who would appear to have preferred the anonymity of a medieval craftsman to the self-promotion that is imposed nowadays upon even the most reticent. Traces of her life outside this remarkable body of work are few. However, thanks to the pious interest and admirable energy of the authorities of her native Uzwil, together with the generosity of her great grandniece, Inés Hubacher, there is now a small collection of drawings and other of her Nachlass (including studies for her illustrations to Familie Mungg) on display in the cellar of the new municipal buildings at Uzwil. Articles in Uzwil Online and the St. Galler Tagblatt relate the story: from 21st July 2017 and 9th July 2019 (both .pdf).
I owe my knowledge of Frau Roshardt once again to Barnaby Probert, who forwarded copies of her work (relating to Marmots) from Plymouth, England, to Kamuzu Academy, Malawi, where the pandemic, which is ongoing (2021), continues to invite only vicarious travel. It has seemed a good idea to place her illustrations to Hedwig Kasser’s Familie Mungg: Eine Murmeltier-Geschichte (Bern 1940) and Bruno Schönlank’s Mein Tierparadies (Zürich 1949) online, together with the German text and a translation into English. Mr. Probert’s sister, Alisoun, kindly read these versions in draft. May these little books bring pleasure to those aftercomers who encounter them!
So far as I know, the image of Frau Roshardt that appears at the head of this page (derived from Uzwil) is the only one to have survived. Otherwise, she wrote, on the occasion of an exhibition to celebrate her seventieth birthday (1962), “I am fortunate to find here so many friends”, and later, after her death, in a memorial exhibition (1983), she was recalled thus: “She had large brown eyes, which looked upon the world mostly with good cheer, a beautiful voice that was bright and clear, and a glorious laugh. She cut a noble figure, just like her art. We will not forget.”