The 18th World Congress of Jewish Studies

Inland Islanders: Jewish Female Artists in Interwar Central Europe

The paper outlines the situation of Jewish female artists in Central Europe with emphasis on the interwar period. It presents for the most part forgotten women active in the field of visual arts whose lives and professional careers were at a certain point connected with the historical Czech lands of the late Austro-Hungarian Empire and the independent Czechoslovak republic established in 1918. Analyzing the socio-economic and cultural milieu of the period, the paper draws upon the life and work of select artists whose oeuvre has been partly preserved in what is undoubtedly a unique resource for studying the art of Central European provenance of the 19th and the first half of the 20th centuries—the Visual Arts Collection of the Jewish Museum in Prague. Among these artists whose majority is still waiting to be reintroduced into the overal history of modern art are Emma Löwenstamm (1879-1941), HildeKotányi-Pollak (1874-1942), Malvina Schalek (1882-1944), Angelika Meerson Schatz (1897-1975), Friedl Dicker-Brandeis (1898-1944), Grete Passer Schmied Mikeska (1899-1998), Charlotte Radnitz Schrötter Frumi (1899-1988), Ilona Singer Weinberger (1905-1944), Hella Guth (1908-1992), and Maria Münzer Thorwart Le Comte (1909-2003). Special attention is given to the case of Gertrud Kauders (1883-1942), a gifted and until recently virtually unknown figurative painter from Prague, whose legacy was considered lost since her deportation to Lublin in 1942 until it resurfaced in the hands of a private holder in 2018. Briefly following the diverse routes of the named artists across various European countries and over the Atlantic ocean, the routes that with a few exceptions never properly intersected, the paper seeks to broaden the historical perspective of the Central European art scene before the outbreak of the Second World War.