Thursday, 10 March 2016

Paul Kayser meets Albert Marquet : ferry to Blankenese

Ernst Odefey's steam tug and ferryboat woodblock prints created in (around) 1914 brought me to Hamburg harbor in before postings. 

It was around the time French impressionists Bonnard and Veuillard were invited (commissioned) by Alfred Lichtwark, the director of the Hamburg Kuntshalle, to paint (en plein air) in Hamburg. This Hamburg harbor view, below, by Veuillard is I think not owned by the Kunsthalle. 

Paul Kayser night view Hamburg harbor.
With his enthusiasm, foresight, knowledge and the money from his often wealthy and prosperous "Hamburg Kunstfreunden" he build a fine collection for the people of Hamburg commissioning contemporary paintings (graphics and photographs) of contemporary Hamburg by contemporary and local artists. Created outdoors. 

A steam ferry boat is seen here in Carlos Grethe's (1864-1913) painting. Grethe, marine and Hamburg harbor painter and teacher was born in Uruquay. He'll feature in following postings. 

Following my personal path (visiting Hamburg means traveling Elbe river by water taxi), getting acquainted with the world of a century ago, my interest and curiosity, the ferryboat leaving in Odefey's print led me to its possible point of destination through the paintings of (Jean) Paul Kayser (1869-1942) one of the "Künstlerclub" (see end of posting) members and protégé of Lichtwark.

Paul Kayser: Pier in Blankenese & Albert Marquet: Pier in Fécamp  

His painting of a landing pier in Blankenese and his many paintings of this picturesque former fishing village with it's iconic views over River Elbe and Hamburg harbor without me knowing this painter led me to the "believe" he could have lived here, finding out he actually did: since 1908. 

In 1909 he had met visiting Albert Marquet and they had painted together in the harbor. Reading the "Künstlerclub"  book I learned that it is not fully understood why Lichtwark did not commission or buy one of his 1909 paintings at the time. It lasted until the 1960's until a (1909) work of him was acquired for the Kunsthalle. It seems to have been related to Lichtwark's "problems" with Matisse students (.....) Several versions of this painting exist. 

Marquet created some 17 paintings during his stay in Hamburg. In 1933 Kayser payed his friend Marquet a visit in Paris.  

The red tugboat by Marquet is in the collections of the Hermitage but I have no idea where the original painting of the green steam ferry boat (it looks like Odefey's) is located. The only picture of the painting I found: on a postcard in German Ebay. Even before Marquet, another french (post) impressionist had visited Hamburg: August Herbin (1882-1960), in 1907.


August Herbin in Hamburg & Paul Kayser in Paris 

Besides being a successful free creating painter Paul Kayser worked also as a teacher in Hamburg. For over 30 years he taught at Glockengießerwall 25 in a building opposite Lichtwarks Kunsthalle, in the painting school, "Malschule Röver" (from 1904 "Malschule Gerda Koppel")

A school in which Lichtwark also was involved. Painter and printmaker Gretchen Wohlwill (1878-1962) studied here. (And also with Fritz Friedrichs (1882-1828) (below) who ran his own paintings school in Hamburg from 1910).

Gretchen Wohlwill & Fritz Friedrichs: Elbe pier.

From the window of his studio in the school Kayser painted the Glockengießerwall-Alsterdamm crossing and entrance to the Lombardbrücke connecting the shores of the Alster basin and dividing "Inner & Außer Alster" in 1910. With a perspective the Paris impressionists often choose painting the cities grand Rues. Opposite is the Kunsthalle and the construction of Hamburg "Zentral Bahnhof" (central station), started in 1899, had finished a few years earlier in 1906.

Paul Kayser: Hamburg Glockengießerwall, Hamburg.
Albert Marquet: St. Cloud, Paris    

His colleague and "Künstlerclub" friend Ernst Eitner (1867-1955) choose (I think) the opposite head of the Lombardsbrücke but from ground floor. 

Using the same high perspective from a floor window is seen in this painting of a quiet Hamburg lane by hardly known Hamburg painter Marie Schmersahl-Kyöbge (1875-1951). She was "promoted" by Alfred Lichtwark and Gustav Pauli (director of Bremen Kunsthalle and successor of Lichtwark in Hamburg after his death in 1914). 


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

This small selection of possibly many hundreds great examples of Hamburg Impressionist paintings is of course extremely limited in the space of this Blog contribution, arbitrary and 
strictly personal.

Product Details

Carsten Meyer-Tönnismann's book: "der Hamburgische Kunstlerclub von 1897" reads like a novel and brings to life this artistic and prosperous period in Hamburg very vividly. Recommended ! 


  1. Albert Marquet! I got a chance to see some of his paintings for the first time last summer. He is not well known in North America. There must be a quota on French artists, I sometimes think. Thank you for this interesting article.

    1. You're welcome Jane, thank you. I love Marquet, I try to imagine and understand how his eyes and brain worked, leaving out all that is not necessary to transmit to us the essence of what he witnessed.