Gertrud Natzler was born in Vienna, Austria in 1908. After graduating from Vienna’s commercial school, the Handelsakademie, Natzler took courses in painting and drawing while working as a secretary. In 1933, Natzler met her husband, Otto Natzler, and together the two of them developed an interest in pottery. They studied ceramics under artist Franz Iskra before opening their own studio. Natzler began receiving local recognition for her work and, in 1938, won a silver medal at a world exhibition in Paris. The same day Natzler learned of her silver medal, Nazi Germany invaded Austria, and the Natzlers began preparations to immigrate to the United States.
Natzler and her husband arrived in Los Angeles in late 1938 and quickly opened a new ceramics studio where they made and sold functional pottery and taught private art lessons. The Natzlers’ ceramics were often a result of a combined effort, where Gertrud would make the vessels and Otto would fire and glaze them. After several years in California, Natzler began receiving local recognition for her ceramics and soon had her work exhibited across the U.S. Natzler was known among her colleagues for her unending quest for perfection, and her ceramics are notable for their precision and delicacy.
Their collaboration lasted three decades until Gertrud’s untimely death in 1971. Due to his grief, Otto was unable to finish the pots Gertrud left behind for many years. In the decades following Gertud’s death, Otto began a career as a modernist sculptor, working well into his 90s.