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Three Elephants

Ernst Moritz Engert

Born: 1892 in Yokohama
Deceased: 1986 in Lich

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Painter, draughtsman, graphic and silhouette artist


About 1900 - during the Russian-Japanese War - the Engert family went back to Germany. From 1908 Ernst Moritz Engert, who always whished to become an artist, studied at an art college under Julius Diez (1870-1957) and in the studio of Wilhelm von Debschitz (1871-1948) in Munich.

After a short time he was part of the Bohemian community in Munich and with his popular portrait silhouettes he became a chronicler of the contemporary artists, writers and actors.

From 1912 he lived in the 'Pension Fürmann', one of the most famous meeting points of artists in Munich.

The connections between the Munich and Berlin Bohemians were very close. 1911 Engert visited Berlin and 1912 he got an own room to show his silhouette portraits at an exhibition of modern silhouettes ("Ausstellung moderner geschnittener Silhouetten").

Summer 1913 Engert went to Bonn and became one of the co-founders of the artists' groop 'Rheinische Expressionisten'. In Bonn he met - beside others - August Macke (1887-1914) and Max Ernst (1891-1976). He participated the exhibition "Ausstellung Rheinischer Expressionisten", which was organized by Macke and caused a great sensation.

In the same year he went back to Munich and married the costume designer Clara von Anders (1888-1937).

1914 the first catalogue raisonné of his graphic artworks were published by Konrad Weinmayer, the curator of the 'Graphische Sammlung' in Munich. From 1914 until 1916 Engert was soldier at the Western Front. After he was seriously wounded he served as a graphic and silhouette artist at the 'Künstlerischen Figurenbühne' of the 2nd Bavarian infantry regiment.

From 1920 to 1929 he lived in Berlin, Munich, Bonn and at castle Thann nearby Nuremberg. During this economically difficult time he mainly made advertisng or commercial works of art and he worked as a draughtsman and illustrator for newspapers and publishing houses or as a scene painter for different theatres. After he separated and had been divorced from his wife he married again in Munich.

1930 he moved with his new family to Berlin, where he worked as an illustrator, but also as a journalist for the newspapers 'Deutsche Allgemeinen Zeitung' and 'Deutsche Theaterzeitung'. 1932 a special exhibition was organized for him at the Gallery Westheim in Berlin and he gained much recongnition with it.

1939 he was obliged to work as a cartographer at the 'Reichsamt für Landesaufnahme' and later on he had to serve as an active soldier. From 1943 until 1945 he was an American prisoner of war.

1945 he moved to his sister Dora to Hadamar nearby Limburg / Lahn where they lived in their parents' house. In Hadamar he opened his own studio in an old synagogue. 1980 the Ernst-Moritz-Engert museum was opened in Hadamar.

1981 he moved with his sister to his daughter Ursula who lived in Lich nearby Gießen.

As a silhouette artist he made his own and distinctive contribution to the develpoment of silhouette art in Germany in the 20th century. As an artist and chronicler of the expressionism he created with his silhouette portraits documents of the generation of artists in Munich and Berlin who lived there during the twenties and thirties.

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Edith Valdivieso: Ernst Moritz Engert. Scherenschnitt, Zeichnung, Graphik. Katalog 92, Galerie und Kunstantiquariat Joseph Fach, Frankfurt am Main, 2007.

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