Eduard Timbermann was born on 31 October 1905, in Tallinn. He received his general education at the Westholm Private Gymnasium, in Tallinn, and later, at the age of 13, when he moved to Viljandi, he attended the Viljandi Secondary School of Science, but did not graduate. In 1923, Timbermann participated in drawing and painting courses at the initiative of the Viljandi School Pupils Union’s art department, where he was taught by V. Ormisson, A. Murakin, and J. Hist. Timbermann’s interest in art was great and his desire to study in the Pallas Art School was growing, even though the young artist knew that it would not be easy (Vallikivi, 2020; newspaper Edasi, 1970). From 1923, Timbermann was enrolled in the Pallas Art School, but he found it difficult to complete his studies. The artist worked part-time to pay his tuition fees. During the summers and in his spare time, he practiced watercolour techniques, which were hardly taught in the Pallas Art School.

Eduard Timbermann’s work was first praised in 1926 and two years later he was mentioned as one of Vabbe's ‘best students’. The artist was described as a modest man who did not show off without reason, often working 6–7 hours a day, with a refined taste and a unique style. Due to his constant money problems, Timbermann even contemplated leaving the school, but in 1930 he received a diploma from the Pallas Art School as a student of Ado Vabbe. As a member of the art association Pallas, Timbermann participated in exhibitions organised by the association and was considered the best watercolourist of the time. In 1930, he returned to Viljandi, assuming responsibility for the organisation and management of the town’s art scene. He dreamed of establishing an art museum in Viljandi, whose population had already grown to 13,000. The local art scene began to take off and more and more exhibitions of works by local artists were organised in addition to exhibitions of works from outside. Timbermann also worked as an art critic in Viljandi. In July 1935, while hiking with Gustav Moots, Timbermann’s tuberculosis, which he had contracted during his school years, worsened and he died a few days later, on 11 July, in Viljandi hospital. After that, the art scene in Viljandi came to a standstill because there was no longer an energetic leader and organiser. Eduard Timbermann was a true patriot of the small town, who believed that even in tiny Viljandi there are creative talents and artistic traditions that must be preserved for generations to come.

Based on his surviving works, it can be concluded that Timbermann’s work is characterised by deliberately simplified motifs and bold colour combinations. The artist’s life has been described by his fellow student and friend Lydia Nirk-Soosaar: ‘The room where Eduard Timbermann worked was dark, it felt gloomy and cold. The interior of the room was simple, filled with many unfinished works.’ Nirk-Soosaar describes the artist’s watercolours as clean, transparent and unique. Timbermann painted copses or shrubs, he was not particularly picky about motifs. His paintings of lakes or water were particularly good –they were airy, simple and majestic (Vallikivi, 2020; Edasi, 1970; Postimees, 14 July 1935; Sirp ja Vasar, 13 Nov. 1970, Heini Paas).

Viljandi Lake, Viljandi motif pp 67 and 69.

Eduard Timbermann (1905-1935):
Viljandi motif 1933. Watercolor, paper. 46.5 x 33.2 cm.
The Art Museum of Estonia

Eduard Timbermann (1905-1935)
Lake Viljandi 1930. Watercolor, paper. 37.2 x 43.4 cm.
The Art Museum of Estonia

KEYWORDS: artist who died young, excellent watercolourist