Slawa Horowitz

Slawa Horowitz and Karl Duldig

Slawa Horowitz

Artist, Teacher, Foldable Umbrella inventor

Slawa Horowitz was born in Horucko, near Lwow in Poland, and moved to Vienna with her family before the First World War. After completing her matriculation, Slawa attended painting classes in Vienna, prior to becoming a private student of the noted Austrian sculptor, Anton Hanak (1922-1925). There she met fellow sculpture student Karl Duldig. From 1926 to 1929 she studied sculpture under Professor Hans Bitterlich at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. Until 1938 she exhibited regularly at the Kunstlerhaus and the Secession, and completed a number of private commissions especially in portraiture.

In 1929 Slawa took out world-wide patents for her invention of a new folding umbrella called Flirt. The umbrella went into production in Austria and Germany, and Slawa received royalties from it until 1938. In 1939 she sold her rights to the Austrian manufacturer, Bruder Wuster. An example of Slawa’s handbuilt prototype of the folding umbrella is in the collection of the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (Powerhouse Museum) in Sydney, Australia.

Slawa Horowitz married Karl Duldig in 1931. Their only child, Eva, was born just prior to the family’s departure from Vienna in 1938. After a short period in Switzerland, the Duldigs arrived in Singapore in 1939, where Slawa worked as an artist and teacher, and also restored valuable paintings in the Municipal collection.

…und der Zauberschirm der Bildhauerin. Im Erfinderpavillon auf der Weiner Fruhjahrsmesse…Es gibt aber auch weiblicher Erfinder…so die Bildhauerin Slawa Horowitz, die einenZauberschirm erfunden hat, denman ganz klein zusammenklappen  und in die Tasche stecken kann … Nr.58 Neuigkeits-Welt-Blatt Wein Mittwocjh 11. Marz 1931, Seite 7.


(…and the magic umbrella of the sculptress. In the inventors pavilion at the Vienna spring fair…There are however also female inventors…the sculptress Slawa Horowitz, who has invented a magic umbrella that can be folded small enough to put in a bag…) Nr.58 Neuigkeits-Welt-Blatt Wein, Wednesday 11  March 1931, page 7

When war was declared in 1939 the Duldigs were designated ‘enemy aliens’. They were sent to Australia in 1940 for internment at Tatura and eventually settled in Melbourne. In 1944 Slawa started teaching at Korowa Anglican Girls School, and in 1947 became Senior Art and Craft teacher at St. Catherine’s Girls School, a position she held for sixteen years. An annual art prize is presented in her name, and in 1992 an exhibition, with an accompanying catalogue titled Mrs. Duldig’s Girls, paid tribute to her work at the school. After her retirement from St. Catherine’s, Slawa continued to  teach part-time, and worked on private commissions until her death in 1975.

In 1977 a Slawa Duldig retrospective took place at the McClelland Gallery, Langwarrin, and subsequently at St. Catherine’s. In addition to the Duldig Studio her art is represented in private collections in Australia and overseas. Slawa’s work was also shown alongside her husband’s in the Vienna and the Early Twentieth Century exhibition, mounted at the National Gallery of Victoria in 1990. A new book, Slawa Horowitz-Duldig Modernist Art and Design edited by Melinda Mockridge was released at the end of 2023.

Slawa Horowitz Patent Specification 318,377, Sept.19, 1929