Friday, 28 November 2014

Hugo Amberg: in Hamburg, Alsterfleet

Hugo Amberg 
(Hamburg 1872 - 1943 Osnabrück)
German painter, teacher, etcher and printmaker. 


Recently American reader Tom sent me a picture of this woodblock print hoping  I had a clue where it was and who the maker was. Well here goes: 

I've learned that modern Germans today hardly know how to read the Sütterlin script (after Ludwig S. who perfected it) anymore. It became the German standard in 1935, by Adolph Hitler, and also abolishing it in 1941, some say was the best thing the villain ever did. And although I do not claim mastering it: I like a good puzzle. Focusing on and researching the lives of German Women Printmakers born before 1900 it also cannot be avoided. 

The signature posing no problem, the left part however is more difficult to read. Knowing the scene helps, even not being German and born 10 years after the complete destruction of this Venice of the North by Anglo-American bombing in 1943: Alsterfleet, the very heart of this friendly city. So, I think it reads:

Alsterfleetbrücke - Hamburg
Holzschnitt - Handdruck.

A good opportunity to focus on the geography and recent history of Hamburg Neustadt, Alsterfleet, after all the most important city and harbour in the Frisian region: German, Danish and Dutch. Starting with a view on the Reesendamm Brücke dividing the Innen and Außer Alster, a small river affluent in River Elbe.  

The star I've placed on the Schleussenbrücke is where Hugo Amberg sat.   

The bridge shown in Tom's print is the Adolphsbrücke (build in 1843 and named not after A.H. but after  Adolph IV, Count of Holstein who died in 1261) as seen from the Schleussenbrücke (the locks, protecting this part of the Innenalster from Elbe tides and creating the reservoir of the Außenalster. (In this photograph below the locks are still in function). The famous Arkaden (Arcades) have also been rebuild to its former grandeur and glory.  

The same contemporary view (below) after the rebuilding of Hugo's native Hamburg and a 1964 print by an unknown printmaker.    

Researching into the history of Tom's print besides "bringing it home" my personal reward was in finally (!) discovering about Hugo Amberg's wife and her family: the illustre and much admired by me printmaker Ilse Koch (1869-1934). But that I will safe for a next posting. 

All pictures borrowed freely from the Internet for friendly, educational and non commercial use only. 

All pictures are mouse clickable to embiggen. 

Follow the labels (or use the search function) to find more on Hugo and Ilse in older posts. New posts with new examples of prints are in preparation.

(Leaving a comment by the way is the reward bloggers thrive on and may be encouraging to continue).    

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