Bertha von Hillern

Bertha von Hillern (4 August 1853, Trier, Prussian Rhineland – 19 September 1939, Staunton, Virginia)[1] was a German-American athlete and artist.


Von Hillern emigrated to the United States in 1877. For two years, she devoted her time to advocating athletic exercises for women, and appearing in public as a competition pedestrian.[2] She also gave demonstrations of bicycle riding.[3] She gave up her public pedestrian activities to devote herself to the study of art, and later pursued art as a profession in Boston, where she exhibited a large number of landscapes in 1888.

Florida newspapers reported that in the 1880s von Hillern shared an atelier there for some years with an artist from Maine, Maria Graves Beckett, who signed her work “Maria J. C. à Becket.” Both women had been students of William Morris Hunt in Boston.[4] She later lived in Richmond and Winchester, Virginia,[1] with Emma Howard Wight.[5]


  • “The Monk Felix,” from Longfellow's “Golden Legend”
  • “Evening Prayer at the Wayside Shrine, Germany” (1883)
  • “The Conversion of the Heathen General Placidus, by a Miracle while Hunting” (1885)
  • “Live-Oak Forest in the Ojai Valley, California” (1887)
  • St. Paul, the First Hermit”
  • “A Walk through the Pine Barrens, Florida” (1888)


  1. Bertha von Hillern at Find a Grave
  2. Shaulis, Dahn (1999). "Pedestriennes: Newsworthy butControversial Women in SportingEntertainment*". Journal of Sport History. 26 (1). S2CID 39599092.
  3. "The bicycle and the West: 1895 Frances Willard". Retrieved 25 October 2011.
  4. Volpe, Christopher (2 June 2011). "Maria J. C. à Becket – Rediscovering an American original". Retrieved 25 October 2011.
  5. Keelor, Josette (11 October 2019). "The three women of Fisher's Hill". The Northern Virginia Daily. Retrieved 2 May 2021.