'The Lost Photographs of Gerty Simon': New Exhibition at the Wiener Library

Monday, 3 June, 2019

‘Berlin/London: The Lost Photographs of Gerty Simon’

EHRI Partner The Wiener Library’s summer exhibition displays the remarkable work of German Jewish photographer Gerty Simon, and features many of her original prints from the 1920s and 1930s. This project will bring into focus, for the first time in eighty years, the work of this powerful and innovative photographic artist, which is especially poignant as Gerty Simon photographed so many important cultural figures from the lost world of Weimar Berlin.

Gertrud (Gerty) Simon (1887-1970) was a prolific and successful photographer. Her photographs were presented in a number of exhibitions in Berlin in the late 1920s and early 1930s. Gerty Simon worked first in Weimar-era Berlin, where it seemed likely from the identity of her subjects that she had connections with the thriving and innovative creative scene of actors, writers, composers, dancers and artists there, as well as with the world of politics. She photographed the likes of singer and actress Lotte Lenya, theatre critic Alfred Kerr and his young daughter Judith, the artist Käthe Kollwitz and Albert Einstein.

In 1933, Gerty Simon and her young son fled the Nazi regime in Germany, leaving behind her husband, studio and career, and they settled in London. Astonishingly quickly, Gerty Simon was able to re-establish her photography studio and create a reputation for photographing people from the most influential circles of British society. Between 1934 and 1937, she photographed amongst many others Sir Kenneth Clark, Peggy Ashcroft and Aneurin Bevan. Gerty Simon’s work also featured in a number of exhibitions, including London Personalities held at the Storran Gallery in Kensington in 1934. At this time, The Sunday Times described her as “most brilliant and original of Berlin photographs.”

Gerty Simon, self-portrait, date unknown
Albert Einstein by Gerty Simon, Berlin, c.1929


Dr Barbara Warnock, the Senior Curator of this exhibition, commented: “The quality of the photographs, the significance of Simon’s sitters, as well as her story of displacement from Germany and re-establishment in Britain meant that, for us at The Wiener Library, this was a particularly compelling collection and we decided it was imperative to stage an exhibition focusing on the life and work of Gerty Simon.”

Portrait of the Simon family (l-r), Wilhelm, Bernard and Gerty, undated, c. 1930


To find out more about this exhibition, please visit: https://www.wienerlibrary.co.uk/Gerty-Simon

‘Berlin/London: The Lost Photographs of Gerty Simon’ will be on show at The Wiener Library in London from 30 May – 15 October 2019.


Top of the page: Renée Sintenis (1888-1965) by Gerty Simon, Berlin, c. 1929-1932. Sculptor and medalist

All photos on this page: © The Bernard Simon Estate, Wiener Library Collections