Friday, November 29, 2013

Hermann Struck: a German-Jewish etcher

I've just discovered that the house of Hermann Struck in Haifa has this October been turned into the Hermann Struck Museum, with an opening exhibition of his etchings. I'm thrilled to think this brilliant and influential etcher is at last getting his due. So I thought I would share the Hermann Struck etchings I have. Struck was born in Berlin in 1876. His birth name was Chaim Aaron ben David, and his Jewish heritage is central to his work - most of the original works below have Hebrew inscriptions or Stars of David incised in the plate in drypoint. An early Zionist, Hermann Struck settled in Palestine, in what is now Haifa, Israel, in December 1922. All of my works date from before this time (although I give the date of his portrait of Chagall as 1923, that is the date of publication, and presumably the actual work was made in or around 1922). Evidently Struck had an active life as artist, mentor, and teacher in Israel, but I don't have any direct evidence of this to show.

Hermann Struck, Porträt eines alten Mannes
Etching, 1901

Hermann Struck, Canal Grande
Etching, 1903

Hermann Struck, Bildnis R.B.
Etching, 1905
Does anyone know who R.B. was?

Hermann Struck,  Alte Jude aus Jaffa
Etching, 1905
The sitter is Struck's father
(I believe probably the same subject as Porträt eines alten Mannes)

Hermann Struck, Marc Chagall
Etching, published 1923
(probably 1922)

Hermann Struck studied at the Berlin Academy, and learned etching under Hans Meyer. Like many other accomplished etchers, he etched plates after the work of others as well as his own originals.

Hermann Struck after Olof Jernberg, Zur Erntezeit
Etching, 1901

Hermann Struck after Max Liebermann, Bildnis des Baron Berger
Etching, 1906

Hermann Struck died in Haifa in 1944. In his lifetime Hermann Struck was highly respected as an etcher, and taught the craft to other artists, including Marc Chagall, Max Liebermann, and Lovis Corinth. His important book on the art of etching Die kunst des radierens went through several editions, each illustrated with original prints.


Atelier Conti said...

Wonderful portraits Neil. I especially like, well all of them. His technique of simple line work with one area of detail seems so modern to me. Did others do this before him? Many have certainly done this since.

Hans said...

thanks for pointing out Struck. At least one print of the late time is shown on the page of the Berlin jewish museum:, a portrait of Chajim Nachman Bialik, 1935

Hans said...

note the signature on this one - maybe done at Haifa?

Neil said...

Hans, thanks so much for your contributions. I did find a site with quite a few oil paintings done by Struck in Haifa, but can't now remember where it was. I imagine he had quite an important role in the development of art in Israel, but it's not a topic I know much about.

Neil said...

Nancy, I think the compositional technique you admire stems from J.A.M. Whistler. His etchings are often composed in this way, and had a huge influence on other etchers in the last 3 decades of the nineteenth century.

Jane Librizzi said...

Neil, is it just a coincidence that the portraits face right? In Renaissance paintings they usually face left, I think. It took a bit for me to figure out what was puzzling me about them.

Neil said...

What an interesting query, Jane. I hadn't thought before that there was a convention of portrait subjects facing right. You sent me scurrying to find a book I have called something like Drawing in the Italian Renaissance Workshop, but needless to say I couldn't locate it. I can think of Renaissance portraits with left-facing sitters (Leonardo's Lady with an Ermine, for instance), but I think you are correct that facing right is much more common. In the particular case of these etchings, it is perhaps significant that every detail of an etching is reversed in mirror image when printed. On the copper plates, these sitters will have been drawn facing right; when printed, they face left.

Jane Librizzi said...

Neil, speaking of books! I remembered "Virtue and Beauty: Leonardo's Ginevra de' Benci and Renaissance Portraits of Women" (National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.: 2001). I heard the author, David Alan Brow,n give a talk on this very subject at the time of the exhibition and it has stuck in my mind.
Rught now I'm looking at a painting by Aristide Maillol of his wife, Clothilde Maillol (c.1894) that I think was modeled after Ginvera and that's what jogged my memory. You can thank David Alan Brown for making me ask the question.

Neil said...

Jane, I'll look out for that one. Except that I would say you can never have too many books, I would say that I have too many books - so many are in boxes or in storage. Often I find myself buying again a book I know I already possess, just because of a lack of basic librarianship skills...

Lea said...

Hi, thanks for the post!
I am wondering what are the differences between the various editions of "the art of etching" of Struck.
Would you know?