Lotz House on Friday announced the release of Lift My Eyes, an imaginative biography authored by Magdalen Dugan that chronicles the life of renowned artist Matilda Lotz who grew up in the Lotz House on ground zero of the Battle of Franklin.
“About two and a half years ago Magdalen took my guided tour of the Lotz House and learned about the family,” Lotz House Executive Director J.T. Thompson said. “She had particular interest in Matilda’s story and later came back and toured with our historian Thomas Y. Cartwright. Her intrigue led to more research and we’re thrilled to have someone help us preserve this compelling story we tell in order to keep the Lotz family story alive.”
Born to German immigrant parents, Matilda turned six years old the day before the November 30, 1864 battle.
When the Lotz family awakened on the morning of the battle, the Federal Line was established in their front yard. Mr. Lotz, fearing that his family would not survive the battle in their wooden house, they sought refuge in the brick basement of the Carter House. For 17 hours while the battle raged all around them, the Lotz family, along with 20 other people, remained safe and survived. When they exited the basement the next morning, they were horrified to see the bodies of dead soldiers six feet deep between The Carter House and their home across the street. It is said that Matilda was told to “lift her eyes” so as not to witness this carnage.
Dugan says her experience darkened her perspective of the world. “I do not trust any of them — the heads of state, the princes, the sons of men,” said the author, expressing Matilda’s bitterness toward the Civil War and the misery it wrought. “They have taken nearly everything of value, though they cannot completely take us from each other as long as we can remember.”
The majority of the book focuses on the artist’s life in her childhood home. Other places include the San Francisco School of Design, where Matilda trained after learning art from her brother, as well as different European countries. Her passion for learning and practicing art as well as other circumstances and historical events urged her to travel to places such as Algeria, Austria, Egypt, France, Hungary, and Switzerland.
Author Magdalen Dugan gives readers a unique perspective into the painter’s life. In each chapter, readers get to experience a specific event in Matilda Lotz’s life through the writer’s words, allowing them to better understand who Matilda was as a daughter, sister, friend, wife, and artist.
Lift My Eyes is on sale at The Lotz House, located at 1111 Columbia Ave., Franklin, Tenn. For more information call 615-790-7190.