Monday, 25 June 2012

Else Zinkeisen (I) River Elbe

Else Zinkeisen
(born 1871 Hamburg)
German woodblock printmaker. 

(I): River Elbe 

Today, again, an Ebay induced posting on a printmaker I’d never heard of before leading to some great discoveries and other fine artists. This above “Boote bei Sonnenuntergang” (Boats at sunset) undoubtedly are sailing in the Elbe estuary and came up for auction recently. 
"Fischer Boote auf der Elbe" and "Wolken über der Elbe". 

Other than the fact Else Zinkeisen was taught privately until 1899 and that she has been a member of the “Heikendorfer Künstlerkolonie” my research  turned   up absolutely nothing. But luckily a small but fine collection of her prints is kept in the “Künstlermuseum Heikendorf" at the Kieler Förde.  
Left: Else Zinkeisen, Right: Oscar Droege, (same?) dwellings along river Elbe.

The Kieler Förde, an inlet of the Baltic sea, North West of Hamburg in Germany's most Northern and beautiful province of Schleswick-Holstein. Sheltered and strategically situated along the busy trade route between North-Western Europe, Scandinavia, Denmark and the Baltic States. Not one of these prints I could locate outside this Museum: a well hidden treasure of prints of what has to be one of the earliest German Modern Printmakers.
 The Elbe River downstream North of Hamburg seen from the Ice-age,
glacier formed East bank ridge by Friedrich Kallmorgen (1856-1924)
Man made Elbe dikes by painter Friedrich Wilhelm Schwinge (1852-1913)

The artist colony sprang up in the 1920's around the house and studio of painter Heinrich Blunk (1891-1963) and it is one of the very few buildings remaining after WWII devastations. Kiel and its surroundings, like Hamburg in 1943, was almost completely destroyed by allied bombs because of its marine and submarine bases. The artists’ studios are gone but the House and Gardens survived, now housing the Museum.
Where we meet another great member of the colony: Oscar Droege (1898-1983) also born in Hamburg (but 25 years after Else Zinkeisen) and perhaps Germany’s most famous and certainly most prolific printmaker. Many of his (I count over a 100) prints featuring Hamburg and the river Elbe.

Painter Georg Burmester (1864-1936) was among them, very much influenced by Vincent van Gogh and  later to become a professor in Kassel art academie. He painted the surrounding  Schleswick land- and seascapes 

Along the North German coast, to the East the sister  "Niddener Künstkolonie" thrived. You can find similar prints of typical Baltic fishing and trading boats  by members Margarethe (L.E.M.) Gerhardt (1873-) and Daniel Stachsus (1872-1953). Max Pechstein and Lovis Corinth lived there.

This print by Else Zinkeisen is showing river fishing boats in the small tranquil  village and fishing  port of Altweder. Just opposite, on the other (West) side of river Elbe, of the mighty city of Hamburg. And situated in a wonderful ancient  and rural landscape. Below a photograph from about the time Else was there. 

A situation painted (below) by Friedrich Wilhelm Schwinge (1852-1913), my favorite  painter of the Frisian and Schleswick landscape (see also above).

And as it was recorded in one of the very last moments of it's existence (above) on photo. The fate that struck the village of Altweder has frightful similarities with the Dutch village of Blankenberg (50 years before) I wrote about in my earlier posting:  Blankenburg (link). It's the inevitabillity of progress: it can’t be stopped. It's all gone. Forever.

The Scottish sisters and artists Anna and Doris Zinkeisen are not (directly) related to Else. Anna Zinkeisen who designed several London Underground posters in the 1920-30’s and her Scottish family of timber traders have a 200 year Scottish history leading back to Silesian ancestry.

Next: some more prints and history by Else Zinkeisen.


  1. Another printmaker to depioct that north German coast was Wilhelm Laage and quite a few of these are reminiscent of him. It's interesting they are of the same generation - the same as Helene Mass.

    There are some nice images here but all rather restrained and abstract. But perhaps that's an English prejudice, from someone who rates Ethel Kirkpatrick.

  2. Laage was a fine North German/Frisian printmaker. It's a good idea to "do him" soon. I agree with your evaluation of these prints and and forgive your prejudice. Still, it feels good to discover new things.