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 Alma del Banco  (1862 - 1943)

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Lived/Active: Germany      Known for: Portrait, landscape, still life painting, nudes and drawing

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

A member of the Hamburger Secession group of painters, her work shows expressionist, fauvist and cubist tendencies significant to the group and presenting a challenge at the time to the established Hamburg artist clubs which were mainly oriented toward Impressionism.

Born in Hamburg in 1862, Alma del Banco came from an upper class Portuguese-Jewish merchant family. She and her two sisters were brought up as Christians. She received artist training from Ernst Eitner at the Valeska Röver private art school in Hamburg.  She then continued her studies in Paris under Fernand Leger, Jacques Simon and André l'Hote.

She undertook several study journeys to France, Italy and Sicily, and later to Yugoslavia, Romania and Dalmatia.

"Alma del Banco was a member of the Hamburg Secession from 1919 to 1933 and during this time participated in at least twenty exhibitions.  After 1933 she was prohibited from exhibiting.  This caused her great unhappiness and she withdrew to her studio and painted solely for herself or, together with Hans Hermann Hagedorn, visited Gretchen Wohlwill in Finkenwerder to paint alfresco.  Hagedorn noted a certain naivety by the Jewish artists in regard to the social and political situation in that they did not take seriously enough what the future forebode.  Her Hamburg friends remained faithful to her.  In 1938/39 she moved to her brother-in-law, Dr Lübbert, in Hasenhöhe in Blankenese after she had to give up her studio in Theaterstraße and her brother had died.  She lived here under house arrest until 1943 protected by the relationship the family had with Hermann Göring. When on 7.3.1943 the irrevocable order came with the date of her imminent deportation a doctor friend acquired morphine for her.  She died of an overdose. She would have been eighty years old that year.  Her last paintings display the typical characteristics of persecution: they are painted on both sides of the canvas in response to the lack of artist's materials. Her last painting is a dark, melancholic winter landscape with an obstructed foreground that mirrored her personal state of mind." (Dr. Maike Bruhns)

In the 1937 Nazi campaign against "degenerate art" six of seven of her paintings and eight of fifteen of her drawings were removed from the Hamburg Kunsthalle.  An additional fourteen works were removed from museums in the German Reich.

Chronology:
1895: Study with Ernst Eitner and Arthur Illies at the Valeska Röver private art school in Hamburg.
1914: Further study in Paris with Léger, Simon and l'Hote.
1919-1933: Member of the Hamburg Secession group, participant in its annual exhibitions.
Friendship with Kurt Löwengard, Karl Kluth, Erich Hartmann, Willem Grimm, Lore Feldberg-Eber, Gretchen Wohlwill, Friedrich Ahlers-Hestermann, Alexandra Povorina.
Member of the Hamburgischen Künstlerschaft.
Study trips (sometimes with Käthe Köster) to France, Italy, Yugoslavia and Rumania, 1929-1930 Dalmatia.
Only sporadically able to live from her art.
1928: Commission from Karl Schneider for a wall painting, withdrawn following its rejection.
1929: Serious pneumonia, 1930 suffered from the illness.
1931/32: Beginning of a friendship with Dr Wilhelm and Susi Sieveking.
1929-33: In dire financial straits.
1931: Financial aid from the Artist Assistance; failed to win a commission for a wall painting.
1937: Six paintings and eight drawings in the Hamburger Kunsthalle were impounded in the Nazi campaign against "Degenerate Art".
1938: Following her brother Sigmund's death she moved to her brother-in-law Hans Lübbert in Hasenhöhe in Blankenese.
1938-43: Close contact to Lia-Ines Lübbert and Susi Sieveking; due to her anxieties she lived with the latter for a period of time in 1942.
1939: Gave up her studio in Theaterstraße.
7.3.1943: Death by morphine in Blankenese following the notification of her deportation to Theresienstadt.
During her life-time up until 1933 she participated in twenty-seven exhibitions.

Sources include:
iesk.et.uni-magdeburg.de

Dr. Maike Bruhns of Hamburg, Germany has studied and written about Alma del Banco, Anita Ree, and Gretchen Wohlwill, three female artists of the Hamburg Secession.


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