Berta's mother Victoria Hummel wrote in her biography of her third daughter, Berta: "She was a lovable, blond-haired, beautiful child, extremely lively. Most of all she liked to paint … a bunch of pretty flowers, a pleasing child's face, a beautiful evening mood, an autumnal forest. All these things could delight her and she would stand and look and look, for what seemed like an eternity."
Berta Hummel with her dog "Lord", 1930/31
Early in life her parents recognized her talent for painting and drawing and encouraged her work. After her schooling, she was allowed to attend the "State School of Applied Arts" in Munich - not a matter of course for a girl at that time.
B.Hummel working on her first large format oil-painting, 1926/27
In April 1927 she placed second in the entrance exams.
Looking back, her years in Munich were the most creative and probably the happiest. The teachers, Prof. M. Dasio and Prof. E. Brauneis, pinned great hopes on her. More than 400 works still exist from that period.
On March 1931 she passed the State Examination with straight A's, by far the best student that year. Her decision to enter the convent was a big surprise for everyone. During the investiture in the Franciscan Convent of Siessen she was given the name of Maria Innocentia.
A entirely new set of tasks awaited her: drawing lessons, designs for liturgical textiles, small sacred pictures and altar pieces. Although these subjects were interesting for her, she faced the fact they restricted her artistic development.
During this time she also continued drawing scenes involving children, which were soon published in books and as postcards. >>
As a student in Munich (Berta Hummel, 2nd row behind Sister. M. Laura), 1931
The first "Hummel Book" appeared in 1934, published by Emil Fink of Stuttgart. In the same year, W. Goebel Porzellanfabrik in the town of Oeslau near Coburg announced his plans to model figurines from Maria Innocentia's works. She only gave her approval because of pressure from others. She knew well the dangers of the merciless laws of commercialisation. No time at all remained for her personal artistic works. She suffered increasingly under the pressure of the National Socialists, which also affected the convent. The income from the Hummel products enabled the Sisters to survive economically. They no longer had any schools, as the Nazi regime had taken this authority from them long ago.
The conflict caused by these circumstances affected M. Innocentia's / Berta Hummel's constitution. Her personal suffering during this period gave rise to the most personal work of her convent years: The Stations of the Cross, a work deeply expressive of her artistic individuality.
Sister Maria Innocentia Hummel OSF, 1934
In August 1937, at the age of 28 she took the veil for life. In 1940 the convent was taken over by the National Socialist regime. The Sisters were restricted to a small part of the convent for a period of five years, and struggled to survive.
Maria Innocentia's health declined rapidly, making two stays in a sanatorium necessary. Suffering from tuberculosis, she was unable to recover even after the end of the war.
She died in November 1946 at the age of 37.