Friday, 26 February 2016

Ernst Odefey I: a day in Hamburg harbour

Odefey, Ernst

(Hamburg 30-11-1882 – 1964 Hamburg) 
Hamburg painter and printmaker.

Odefey lived and worked in Hoopte an der Elbe (just south of Hamburg). He studied in Hamburg with Julius Wohlers (1867-1953) and in Weimar with Ludwig von Hofmann (1861-1945), Hans Olde (1855-1917) and Theodor Hagen (1842-1919) and travelled to Paris and the Isle of Bornholm. 

Departure of the steam ferry in Hamburg harbor. The dramatic, balancing the composition, towering mass of the "Dukdalf", the movement of the right turn suggested by the water and the disappearing from sight ferry (only half a ship) are very clever. With the lonely female figure (his love?) Odefey may have left a hidden message in this print. Much like Emil Orlik put in an extra layer (or two) in his gossiping women print (below). 

The steam ferry leaving seen in Odefey's print is possibly SS "Gottfried Semper" named after an important architect and was put into service in 1907 by the HADAG, the "Hamburg Dampferschiffart A.G."  It was in service until 1945 and then scrapped. Few photo's survived, finding these was not easy. (I've planned a posting with more great works of art showing Hamburg harbor "under steam") and also this ferryboat.

Odefey's initials (monogram) E. O. are sometimes confused with Emil Orlik, which lead to the local auctioneers mistaken attribution and now correct identification of the opening print
Ernst Odefy and Emil Orlik
I'm intrigued by the partly visible red mural/poster (the letters AB (B reversed)  and a seated figure(?)
,possibly a third layer in this early 1898 Orlik print.
The name (M ?) Kafka above the entrance and the black (William Nicholson-like) silhouette no doubt a tribute and portrait caricature of close friend Franz Kafka (1883-1924). They knew each other from childhood in Prague. Kafka visited Munich in 1903, 1911 and 1916. Orlik visited London and will have seen and known Nicholson's/Beggarstaf work. 

Odefey held a teaching position 1914-20 at the Kassel “Kunst Akademie” and was a member of the “Hamburgische Künstlergesellschaft” and the “Hamburger Künstlerverein”. Works are represented in collections of the “Kunsthalle Hamburg” and Hamburg “Museum für Hamburgische Geschichte”.

"Landungssteg und Blick über die Alster zur Altstadt"
The Alster and skyline of old Hamburg. 

There's not much more to be found or to go on in the "sources", the Internet and Artist Lexikons. 

This posting more or less summing up wat is known about Odefey's life and his printed oeuvre. Sending me pictures of other examples and all biographical facts will be welcomed open armed and shared in this humble Blog.

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


  1. Very beautifull, I like his art very much. Thanks for sharing this !

    1. Nice comments and appreciation is what I thrive on. Thank you for taking the time and trouble to comment Hélène.