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Alfred Schwarzschild (Artist)

Born Frankfurt 1874. Died London 1948.




Alfred was the second child born into a wealthy Jewish family in Frankfurt. His parents Moses & Henriette had six boys, the eldest of which Karl was to become a world renowned astronomer. Alfred came next, then a third boy who sadly died in infancy followed by Otto, Hermann, Robert and Clara their only daughter. They were a happy family & Moses & Henriette brought their children up to be liberal minded & free thinkers.

Alfred (third from left) with his parents, brothers & sister
From an early age Alfred showed great potential and the desire to become an artist. Amongst other things, for many years he studied anatomy in great detail as can be seen by his wonderful and skilled portrayal of the human body.
From1890 - 1892 he studied under Anton Burger in Kronberg and then at the Academy of Karlsruhe & finally with Wilhelm von Diez in Munich. Here he received early acknowledgements among which was an ‘ Honourable Mention’ in a 1903 Paris exhibition. He was renowned for his portrait paintings many of which are scattered round the world.

                                                     Alfred in his studio 1909
He was born in an era of political unrest and two world wars. During WW1 he joined the (Imperial German Flying Corps) as an observer. He had a large camera that he had to hold over the side of the plane to photograph the terrain and he also made sketches of the enemy positions.  There are postcards he drew for his brother Karl showing him on a ladder painting murals on the wall of one of the huts. For his endeavours he was awarded the Iron Cross (2nd Class).

Alfred (second from left)

Alfred married Theodora Luttner  in 1924 & had three daughters. The family moved to Munich and resided at Holbeinstrasse and then Mauerkircherstrasse, where Alfred also had his artist studio.


Alfred's wife Theodora with his daughters Luise, Bettina & Theodora c.1936

When the Nazi party began placing restrictions upon the movements of Jews, Alfred found it extremely difficult to sell his work. Living under such conditions became intolerable and in 1936 Schwarzschild fled Germany to avoid Nazi persecution. He arrived in England in the hope of trying to earn a living. In doing so he left his wife and children behind in Munich.


In 1937, fearing for his family's safety, Schwarzschild bravely returned to Munich for a brief visit where they was reunited. He fled Germany for a second time soon after.


Alfred was finally reunited with his wife and children for good when they also fled to England in 1938, thereby escaping the Nazi holocaust. He was subsequently reported to the Nazi authorities and his bank account was seized and stripped of its money.

Alfred Schwarzschild remained living in the UK until his death on 19 August 1948. His artwork suffered at the hands of the Nazi's where it was discriminated against on the basis that it was sectarian and therefore deemed unworthy. Thankfully, some of his paintings have survived and hang in European and Middle Eastern galleries.

Grüß aus München!

Alfred was commissioned to paint a typical Aryan girl. The painting was reproduced and distributed in Germany before WW2 as a postcard under the title 'Grüß aus München!'

However, what he failed to tell the authorities was exactly who the little girl he had drawn was. This information he revealed later in a scrapbook after he fled Germany in 1936.

"This is supposed to be typical of an (Aryan) German child of Munich. But it is a Jewish (German) portrait painter! And the model was his little girl, half Jewish and half Bavarian (Mother)!! with München on the background. There is a subtle humour in this!"

His hand drawn postcards to members of his family amount to hundreds and can be found here. These in themselves are a unique recording of the history of those turbulent times.

Alfred the lion attacks the Nazi Swastika. Captioned, "I wish I could." 1939 London.




He was interned for a short while on the Isle of Man where he continued to draw & sketch at every opportunity. He had a small silver coloured tin in which he kept his drawing materials. He was allowed to go out and was sitting in the dunes one day sketching when a policeman turned up to say that there was a report that he was signalling to the enemy. After checking Alfred’s tin he realised that the safety of the British Nation was not under threat so Alfred was allowed to finish his picture.


During the war years there was a great shortage of all painting materials so he would make use of anything he could find, odd scraps of cardboard or paper were like gold to him. He never let a single day go by without sketching or painting and was a consummate and prolific artist. Even till the day he died he was drawing nurses & patients from his hospital bed.

Some memories from Alfred's youngest daughter Theo.

As his youngest daughter I can really only write about his  last few years as he sadly
 died when I was just sixteen. From the early 1930’s life was not easy under the Nazi regime. My mother (who was not Jewish) used to go shopping for her Jewish friends who were not being served in many shops. Our father was not allowed to sign his paintings so he travelled to Switzerland where his sister lived and also to London where he found work.


He always came back whenever possible but by 1938 it was too difficult so my mother put all our possessions into storage, ready for the day (which never came) when she would retrieve them. We said goodbye to our friends  and managed to get a train to take us part of the way to England  We had scarcely any luggage and were very fortunate not to be taken off the train at Aachen where many of the Jewish families were forced to get out. 


Once reunited we were able to stay with good friends & cousins until we found a house to rent in London. It was during this time that my father was interned but not for too long. His health had deteriorated during the years and his heart was not strong but he continued to paint and get a few commissions.



One of his cousins gave him a pass for the London Zoo which gave him great pleasure and he drew wonderful sketches of the animals. Life was not easy for him during this time as art materials were virtually unobtainable but somehow he managed.



By the end of the war work began to come his way again, just little bits and the occasional portrait at first but gradually building up. Sadly though, his asthma was getting very bad and London was at that time a very smoggy place and sadly he died in 1948.

Even after all these years I have only to smell turpentine and I see my father standing there in his painting overall with a  palette and brushes in his hand.


Some family photographs
Studio Alfred, Theodora, Luise & Bettina Studio
Alfred joined the Imperial German Flying Corps during WW1 as an observer
Decorating the skittle hall    
Self portrait