Woman resting her head on her arm

Oil on canvas
78 x 67 cm
Painted 1916
No. 2016-0010

Heinrich Emil Adametz

1884 Düsseldorf – 1971 Berlin

After training as a ship-building engineer, Heinrich Emil Adametz studies at the School of Arts and Crafts of Hamburg and Altona.

1904 to 1906 He attends the Academy of Visual Arts in Stuttgart. His teachers are Graf Leopold von Kalkreuth and Adolf Hölzel.

from 1910 Adametz lives in Berlin.

1914 He marries Johanna Michaelis, the daughter of a wealthy Jewish broker. They are rejected by her parents, who regard Adametz as beneath their social status.

In the 1920s, Adametz is extremely successful, enjoying various exhibitions in Sydney and Buenos Aires.

The National Socialists ban him from working after he refuses to separate from his wife.

1943 Adametz’s wife is arrested while fetching food ration coupons. She is briefly freed, at which she and her husband go into hiding in Zesch am See near Berlin. They are betrayed to the authorities, after which they have to move constantly from one hiding place to another.

1944 They are arrested again, and sent to the concentration camp of Gardelegen near Magdeburg. When the camp is moved, Adametz manages to escape across a latrine pit.

In the final stages of the war, almost his whole oeuvre hitherto is destroyed.

After the war, broken by all they have experienced, they live a withdrawn life, sharing accommodation with other people.

1947 Gertrud Richter, the widow of the painter Hans, takes in Ademetz and his wife. Gertrud becomes his muse, and Johanna runs the household.

1968 They become acquainted with Horst and Evelyn Besener from Berlin.

1971 Heinrich Emil Adametz dies, and Gertrud dies shortly afterwards. Johanna Adametz is taken in by the Beseners, who look after her until her death in 1974.

Adametz is a forgotten painter at the time of his death, and the Beseners assume responsibility for preserving his surviving oeuvre. They donate a painting to the Chief Editor of the newspaper B.Z., Georg Gafron. As a result, details of the artist’s biography become public knowledge for the first time.

Literature: B.Z., 24 December 2002. “Zwei Berliner hüten das Erbe des vergessenen Malers Hinrich Emil Adametz” (“Two Berliners preserve the estate of the forgotten painter Heinrich Emil Adametz”).