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Schiwetz, Berthold (1909–1971)

Crystal Sasse Ragsdale Biography Entry

Berthold (Tex) Schiwetz, sculptor, was born in Cuero, Texas, on July 23, 1909, the son of Berthold and Anna (Reiffert) Schiwetz. He was the brother of Texas artist Edward M. (Buck) Schiwetz. After graduation from high school in Cuero he enrolled in Texas A&M to study business administration, although he preferred painting and drawing. During the Great Depression he had to give up his study of art to work in an office. In 1935 he began in his spare time to carve portraits out of plaster, and for the next two years he studied sculpture under William McVey at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. In 1939, at McVey's urging, he went to the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan to study with sculptor Carl Milles. In World War II he served in Europe with the Ninety-fifth Infantry Division. Schiwetz returned to Cranbrook in 1945 and spent the next five years in the Milles studio there. During the summer of 1949 he traveled with Milles to Sweden and Italy and in 1950 became his assistant. In Rome, Schiwetz took charge of Milles's studio at the American Academy, and during the time of his mentor's illness Schiwetz supervised completion of many of the sculptor's last important works, among them the Milles fountain in the restaurant court of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the William Volker memorial fountain in Kansas City. After Milles's death in 1955 Schiwetz remained a year at the American Academy in Rome, but in 1956 he returned to Cranbrook as head of the sculpture department. For the next six years he worked with a select group of students there while continuing his own work. His first major show was held at the Worcester Art Museum in December 1957, and another one-man show was held in the Sculpture Center in New York on February 16, 1958. In 1962 Schiwetz left Cranbrook for Florence, Italy, where he established a studio. He worked in the Bruno Bearzi bronze foundry nearby, and there he made a number of large sculptures. In 1966, after a serious illness, he returned to the United States and lived on Ossabaw Island, off the coast of Georgia, where he sketched wild animals, shore birds, and shells. In 1967 he returned to Michigan to live and work in his studio in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. He moved in 1969 to Dexter, Michigan, and established a studio there. He died in Dexter in June 1971 and was buried in Cuero. A posthumous show of fifty-two pieces of his work was held in the Birmingham Art Museum in Michigan in 1971. From his years in Rome Schiwetz learned the use of water as a sculptural element of design for his fountain pieces; from his Texas boyhood he recaptured the sense of joy and play in the animal and insect forms that often served as subjects for his sculptures; and from the Etruscans he derived a feeling of whimsy in characterization. His forty-two-inch-high bronze Bird Fountain is in the Worcester Art Museum. Among his fountain pieces are Praying Mantis, Sting Rays, and Jonah and the Whale. His works are in private collections in Houston and in the East and Midwest, as well as in the MillesgÄrden, Ledvigo, Sweden, the Flint Museum in Flint, Michigan, the Cleveland Museum of Art, and City Park, Philadelphia.

Arts, March 1958. Sally Saunders and John W. McKinney, eds., The Sculpture of Berthold "Tex" Schiwetz (Birmingham, Michigan: Birmingham Gallery, 1971). "Tex" Schiwetz, Sculpture in Bronze (exhibition catalogue, Worcester, Massachusetts: Worcester Art Museum, 1958). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. Worcester Art Museum News Bulletin and Calendar, May 1958.


  • Visual Arts
  • Sculpture

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Crystal Sasse Ragsdale, “Schiwetz, Berthold,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed April 11, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

February 19, 2019