Liane Collot d'Herbois

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Liane Collot d’Herbois (17 December 1907 Camelford, England – 17 September 1999 Driebergen, the Netherlands) was a British painter and anthroposophical painting therapist. She researched light, darkness, colour and its application in painting and in therapy.[1]


Liane grew up near Tintagel as the only child of a Spanish-French father and Scottish mother until she was twelve years old, experiencing inwardly the power of her natural surroundings. At the outbreak of the first world war the family moved to Australia, her mother and she herself, however, returning to England after a short time. Liane had a pronounced gift for drawing and was already selling pictures at the age of eleven. Her encounter with Buddhism and somewhat later, the writings of Plato brought a certain calm to her fiery temperament.

She attended the Birmingham Academy of Arts painting school and discovered the book “Knowledge of the Higher Worlds” by Rudolf Steiner in the library there. At the early age of 20 she received her art teaching diploma, and at the same time a bursary for the British Museum in London.

Her main desire was to work with difficult and handicapped children, whose drawings and paintings she felt able to interpret. After giving a presentation on Buddhism at the university, a priest of the Christian Community made her aware of the anthroposophical work. She thereupon went to Stourbridge in 1927, to the Sunfield Homes in Clent, joining their circle of co-workers for the next seven years.

There her paintings drew the attention of Dr Ita Wegman, the medical co-worker of Rudolf Steiner, who wrote encouraging her to continue with her painting and inviting her to visit Arlesheim. Here she was requested to try and paint healing pictures in the sense of a therapeutic art. Ita Wegman led her to understand that the most important thing for an artist is not to express him or herself but to create works for other people. After this she only seldom signed her works, schooling herself instead to observe things deeply, painting them “by heart”, as she said, the following day. For some time she stayed at the Casa Andrea Cristoforo in Ascona, followed Ita Wegman to Paris and returned once again to Arlesheim in 1940. Working together with Ita Wegman, Hilma Walter and Margarethe Hauschka, she developed an original and independent painting therapy for patients with a variety of ailments. The frescos in the “La Motta” chapel in Brissago, where later the urn of Ita Wegman was placed, are by her.


After 1946 she journeyed with the painter and sculptress, Francine van Davelaar through Europe and North America, working artistically and instructing others. Finally both women settled in the Netherlands where they were joined by a group of painting students calling themselves the “Magenta Group” throughout the years 1967-1987.

Collot developed a form of veil painting consisting of up to 80 different layers of colour, based on Rudolf Steiner’s “Philosophy of Freedom”, which she outlined in her textbooks “Colour I” and “Colour II”. After being requested by the medical doctor Dr Paulo Walburgh-Schmidt in 1978 to instruct therapists in painting, she once more began to work directly with patients and to build up her therapeutic work. Here she achieved a widespread recognition amongst doctors, therapists and patients, with her sympathetic looks, her humour and energy and her fluency in the English, German, French and Dutch languages.

Exhibitions of her work took place in Colmar in 1975, regularly at the Goetheanum in Dornach, Switzerland and after her death at the Husemann Clinic in Buchenbach, Germany. Her many paintings, including altarpieces for the Christian Community, meditative pictures in clinics, homes and for private owners, are distributed throughout the world.

Published work

  • Colour: A Textbook for Anthroposophical Painting Groups Floris Books (March 1, 2006) ISBN 978-0863156250
  • Light, Darkness and Colour in Painting Therapy Floris Books; 2nd edition (September 15, 2000) ISBN 978-0863153273

Further reading

  • Liane Collot d'Herbois: Werk und Leben - Work and Life by Peter Selg (2013), Raffael-Verlag ASIN B00GM51394
  • Touched: A Painter's Insights Into the Work of Liane Collot D'Herbois by Marie-Laure Valandro, Lindisfarne Books (October 1, 2012) ISBN 978-1584201281
  • Liane Collot d'Herbois und Ita Wegman by Peter Selg, Verlag am Goetheanum (March 1, 2008) ISBN 978-3723513279
  • Exercises for The Painting of Colour Movements after Liane Collot d'Herbois by Elisabeth de Bruyne (2012)