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Home > Childrens Authors > Catherine Schuon

Catherine Schuon

Photo of Catherine SchuonCatherine Schuon is a gifted artist, editor, and translator, fluent in English, German, French, Spanish, and Italian. She has been painting and drawing since she was a young child. Catherine has also collected children’s books her entire life and she especially enjoys the children’s books of illustrator Carol Barker. Catherine is dedicated to helping children appreciate the beauty of the world’s traditional cultures and their sacred forms of art, which has inspired her to co-edit A King James Christmas, along with contributing nine of her own paintings to the book. Looking through Catherine Schuon’s art, readers will notice her special interest in animals and her unique gift in capturing the spirit of each one.

Catherine Schuon was born in 1924 in Bern, Switzerland. As the daughter of a career Swiss diplomat, she traveled a great deal and was exposed to many cultures, particularly in Europe, North Africa, and South America. She spent her early school years in pre-war Berlin where her father was the First Secretary at the Swiss embassy in Berlin, before returning to Switzerland when she was six years old.

Catherine lived in Switzerland until she was thirteen. During that time, her interest and skill in painting grew. she took painting and art classes in school and excelled at her artwork. Catherine’s grandmother was a gifted painter and took her into nature to paint landscapes and flowers; the young Catherine always enjoyed painting animals, too. Her stepfather painted in watercolors, and he also encouraged Catherine to paint. Her mother was a nurse in the mountain hospital near St Moritz, and Catherine would take her sketchbook and pencil into the mountains to draw the animals she saw, including the cows and mules that were carrying milk. She also enjoyed drawing her younger brother and two sisters. And, whenever she would write letters to family and friends, she would draw illustrations along with the words in the letters.

When Catherine was thirteen, she and her family moved to Algiers, in Algeria, where her stepfather was an engineer. At that time Algeria was considered a part of France. She learned French and had her first contact with the Islamic civilization. She then returned to Switzerland during World War II, where she studied languages and helped to care for refugee children. Just as World War II ended, she joined her father, who had been named Swiss Ambassador to Argentina. While in Argentina, she learned Spanish and developed further her gift for painting, especially in watercolors. She enjoyed spending her time painting horses and landscapes as well as the ocean and the “gauchos” (cowboys).

From Argentina, Catherine moved back to Switzerland again with her family. To expand her artistic skills, Catherine worked as a ceramist with Italian artists and decorated plates and vases. In 1949, she married the famous writer on religion, Frithjof Schuon, and together they took many trips to places around the world, including trips to visit their many American Indian friends such as Thomas Yellowtail, the Crow Sun Dance Chief and Medicine Man.

With her gift for languages, Catherine helped her husband answer his correspondence from his many admirers across the globe for many years. He also encouraged her to start painting again, which she did in 1967; however, she now decided to work in oil paints as he did. Inspired by his writings and artwork, she began painting scenes from various religions, as well as the life of the Blessed Virgin. Among these are the Annunciation, the Visitation, the Adoration of the Magi, and the Flight into Egypt.

Catherine Schuon is also a talented and very precise editor. Besides her work on A King James Christmas, she edited a volume on art from her husband’s writings titled, Art from the Sacred to the Profane: East and West, and has also worked on a number of other editing projects as a consultant.

In 1980, the Schuons moved from Lake Geneva to southern Indiana, where Catherine still lives to this day. Over the years, she has had a cat named Tigerli and a dog named Pila who were quite special to her, but her sensitivity to animals extends to all, as her paintings clearly show.
photo of Catherine Schuon in the High Alps

Catherine Schuon in the High Alps
of her native Switzerland

photo of Catherine Schuon on a horse

Catherine Schuon exploring on horseback in Argentina

photo of Catherine Schuon with 2 Native American children

Catherine Schuon with two Native American children during one of her trips to the American Plains tribes

Catherine Schuon’s painting titled The Adoration of the Magi

The Adoration of the Magi, painted by Catherine Schuon in 1968

photo of Catherine Schuon with 2 Native American children

Catherine Schuon relaxing with a furry four-legged friend

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