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).    

Friday, 21 November 2014

Erna Halleur: Have a great little weekend !

"Stets ein frohes Wochenendchen"

"Again and again (for ever) a nice (little) weekend" by Erna Halleur (died 1940 Berlin)  send to share by reader Shaun ! Don't miss her recent posting in this Blog.  
What a nice little gem !  I count 6 different color stages (2 blues, 2 reds green and yellow) and blocks to be cut.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Emma Bormann in Groningen

Emma Bormann 
visiting Groningen (Netherlands)

The works and biography of Emma Bormann (1887-1975), as an important artist, are extensively published, both in books and in the Internet. She was appointed professor teaching graphics in Münich Art Academy in 1918 and in her long life she travelled extensively creating woodblock prints of the many places she visited all over the world: highly collectable and likewise priced.

In 1922 however she travelled to the Netherland making sketches for later printmaking. In that year the "Verein für verfielfaltigende Kunst" published her print of the Academy in Groningen and therefore has become one of her best known. Finding a print signed and titled in what looks like Bormann's own handwriting and not with the VfvK publishers title and credit suggests she also stocked local galleries with signed copies after her trip. After all: world traveling costs money, even when you are born rich, earn a professor's salary and are married to a doctor (Dr. Eugen Milch). 

I have no idea if the other prints she created in Groningen were also made for the "Verein" (I don't think so) but they were created during that same 1922  trip. One of them is showing the small village of Godlinze: pretty accurate, even the garden fence (lower right) is cut and printed correctly.  

There’s at least one other signed print to proof she extended her trip also visiting the city of Rotterdam some 250 Km south where she did the "Kolk-haven". This historic and medieval centre, the heart of Rotterdam was erased after the cowardly German bombardment of the city on may 14th 1940. 

But then to my surprise I recently discovered another Groningen print. One I’d never seen before. It’s titled “Lage der A”. Which it is not. It is actually the “Noorderhaven” just around its corner, looking North. I know, my roots are in Groningen and for the last 10 years I drove past these old store houses, to and from my work in the UMCG.

The mistaken title is the more remarkable because Emma Bormann also sat sketching on the opposite north side of the Noorderhaven looking South over the city. Creating this really very nice view of the city, below. And that print I'd also never seen before. 

On the left is the Martini-tower, the tower and spine of the Academy are in the middle and on the right the tower of the "der Aa"- church. This color(ed) print recently surfaced in the Internet in an auction. To be more correct: I found it long after the auction. 

To my surprise, researching these two new to me Noorderhaven-Groningen prints a bit, I found in the Archives of the City of Groningen yet another print by Bormann and one I also never had seen before. It shows the "Grote Markt" and the "Martini"-tower, an etching and: on a busy market day.

Over the years I have found, picked up and collected several prints of the iconic Martini tower, or Olle Grize (old Gray One) as it is lovingly called by Groningen’s citizens. But not many showing the tower on a market day held on what was then one of the most beautiful and best preserved medieval market squares in Europe. Until it was destroyed with the liberation of the city in 1945.
(left: Hendrik Jochem Gorter 1905-1944 who did not survive the occupation and right: "Estgerbuh" (pseudonym for Henriette Rosina Dorothea Hubregtse (1879-1959) 

All pictures are mouse clickable to embiggen. 

All pictures taken freely from the internet for friendly, educational and non commercial use only. 

Friday, 14 November 2014

Johann or Johanna Prescher ?

J. Prescher 
(  ?  )
unidentified German printmaker 

J. Prescher is an even more obscure (or is it obscured ?) printmaker than Erna Halleur was in before posting: how very undeserving ! Over the years I've collected the images for this posting but found never a clue to his (or hers !) identity. The identity of the maker of Thrush and Rowan-berries only revealed  after finding the signature of J. Prescher under the old matt. It's hard to believe all these different prints were made by the same printmaker.

Two lavish flower bouquets cut and printed in the same style. 

About half of them showing up in auctions or with print dealers in America. This could be an indication for having participated in an international graphics exhibition in America as I've discovered with Martin Erich Philipp (his parrots were very popular in the US) and with prints by Eva Roemer (1889-1977), see here*.

I have no idea who he was, it could be a Johann or a Julius but I would not be surprised if he appears to be a she.........Johanna

Two stylishly related flower bouquet prints. 

The last two examples: "Poppies" were found in the collections of Paramour Fine Prints  (sold) and "Geese and Apple tree" a recent offer with Annex Gallery Fine Prints (for sale) 


A possible clue to the identity of J. Prescher is maybe this artist with the same family name. Could it be his wife or maybe his sister ? All help to solve this mystery is very welcome and will be shared in this Blog, like more examples of course. 

Walter Prescher van Ed
(Dresden 06-04-1916- Ottendorf-Okrilla 1988)
German late impressionist painter and Art Academy professor

Student of Alexander Baranowsky (1874-1941), Ewald Karl Enderlein (1872-1958), Richard Muller (1874-1954) and Paul Rößsler (1873-1957) all in the Dresden Kunst und Gewerbeschule. In 1948 Prescher was appointed professor in “Akademie der Künste” in Berlin and later in the “Kunst Akademie“ in Dresden. 

View from the "Kunstgewerbeschule" in Dresden by painter Max Frey (1874-1944)

Walter Prescher also held a professorship in 1961 in Nancy (France). Honorary citizen of Montmartre (Paris) and master student of Oskar Kokoschka. Befriended with painters Jacques Villon, Fernand Léger, Maurice Utrillo, Jean Cocteau and Karel Appel. 

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

Monday, 10 November 2014

Erna Halleur, a Berlin mysterie.

Erna Halleur
Born 1860/85 - died Berlin 1940.
German painter and printmaker.

One of the loveliest printmakers in my "Early German Women Printmakers Index" (and ongoing project) is Erna Halleur. She is also one of the most obscured (or is it obscure ?)

This lovely bouquet, new to me, recently surfaced and was acquired by American reader Michelle who's send me a picture for sharing. A fine opportunity for this posting and to try solving the mysteries around Erna Halleur by asking the help of readers for information. 

Erna's year of death is found in the archives of the Berlin Women Artists Association founded in 1865: “Künstlerin tätig in Berlin, gest. 1940 ebenda”, working in Berlin, a member for 27 years from 1913-1940 and vice-secretary in 1916 and no records, no exhibitions, no traces in the Academy, not mentioned  by friends or colleagues  ? 

She seems to have been exclusively busy with flower pieces (I like flower prints) and my guess, working in Berlin since 1916, she is in someway related/acquainted with Lovis Corinth (1858-1925). Like printmaker and colleague Else von Schmiedeberg-Blume (1876-) who confessed "being inspired" by Corinth's flower paintings. And of course with Emil Orlik (1870-1932). All three of them taught in Berlin for many years.      

Although Erna is not mentioned in any of the Artist Lexicons to day she has a select group of international admirers and connoisseur considering the always high prices her prints fetch in auctions. From America to Taiwan, from Germany to Cornwall. My "Snow Drops" however is lovely, but it's the only color etching I know or have ever seen by her. Swapping it for one of her block prints, more befitting my personal aim of collecting, is an option.

It took me a while but I found Erna in a 1935 census living in the (Schöneberg  area) Motz-strasse 63: “Erna Halleur, Mahlerin und Grafikerin”, painter and graphic artist. There are only two other Halleurs living in Berlin in 1935: Ida Halleur a “Rentiere” (living from a pension) in the Augsburgerstrasse 23 also in quarter Schöneberg and Jean Halleur in the Stubenrauchstrasse 44 which is in the adjacent Friedenau quarter. He was a “Kanzler”, a position meaning either a high official in a consulate, or a  diocese or as a university secretary/director. 

Reader and follower "Archimandrill" (see comments) additionally has send this nice example below from a British 2004 online auction catalogue.

Physalis and Meissen porcelain statue group (47 x 49 cm.   

I have examples of half a dozen water colors, all flowers, by Erna but because this has become a rather lengthy posting I've left those out of this article) 

Motzstrasse - Nollendorfplatz

The Motz-strasse and nearby Nollendorfplatz and Bahnhof (Square and Metrostation) in the the 1920’s were in a swinging, artistic and liberal quarter of Berlin, the home of writers, painters, artists, jews and the place to be for homosexuals (male/female). Around two corners (a block) away was the drawing school of the Womens Artist Association. 
Lesser Ury: Nollendorferplatz-Motzstrasse
Leo Lesser Ury (1861-1931), the impressionist frequently painted the streets in this area of Berlin. 

On the same address Motz-Street 63 in 1929 lived the family of Dr. Julius Lewin renting rooms in 1929 to Jewish American journalist and writer Shepard Stone (Cohen) (1908-1990) who came to study in Berlin. Read her* especially the Weimar Student part.

Just a few buildings away at Nr. 78 was Hotel Koschel (now Hotel  Sachsenhof) where painter Oscar Kokoschka (1886-1980) stayed and writer Else Lasker-Schüler (1869-1945) who has a school named after her in the same street. 

Pariser Platz, Oskar Kokoschka

Across the street at nr. 82 lived Jewish (art) doll maker Else Hecht-Grossman (1884 - deported and murdered in Riga 1942). She was member of the Munich Art Doll Group. Erna and Else could easily have bumped in to each other or have met at the grocers. The German "Hecht", by the way translates Pike explaining the label. 
Max Beckman (1884-1950)

Schönheitsabend in der Motzstrasse 1918
George Grosz (1893-1959). 

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1880-1938) 

Here are some more names of important figures who walked the streets with Erna Halleur in this artistic quarter of Berlin: Berthold Brecht, Vladimir Nabokov, Ernst Bloch, Rudolf Steiner, Alfred Döblin. 

And this is what was left in 1946: ruins and rubble. 
Erna's world vanished from the planet. 


Most German Halleur namesakes seem to originate from the city of Schwerin in Province Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, some 100 km. east of Hamburg. The name also spelled as Halleer, Hallier etc..)

(Gustav Carl) Hermann Halleur, probably the most interesting member, was also born in Schwerin in 1818. In 1854 he published a very early and iconic text book on photography, describing how to create lasting impressions using all sorts of material from nature (auto-photography, very interesting stuff). 

Researching him a bit on a rainy day I found Hermann in an earlier life had also been a doctor and a missionary visiting West Africa and Jamaica and writing a book about the life and treatment of negroes in West Africa concerning slavery. He was chosen to travel with the explorer Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859). 

Halleur remarried his second wife (the daughter of a British Major “Honntybon”) on the Ilse of St. Helena. I could find no family name anywhere near “Honntybon”, but there was an Irish Major Poppleton (..) on St. Helena …….: garding Napoleon Bonaparte in his exile (1815-1821). It also could well be "the Honn........ so and so", later German translators missing the point ?  

G.C. Hermann Halleur was also involved in the founding of the University of Calcutta in India.  Returned to Germany he left Berlin in 1851 and was awarded a directorship with a grant from the German King to lead the newly founded Arts and Craft school in Bochum near Essen. An artistic  link or a clue to Erna or is it wishful thinking ?

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

All information on Erna Halleur is warmly welcomed !