Berlin/London: The Lost Photographs of Gerty Simon

30 May 2019 – 15 Oct 2019

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The Wiener Library’s summer exhibition showcases the remarkable work of German Jewish photographer Gerty (Gertrud) Simon, and features many of her original prints from the 1920s and 1930s.


Simon was a once-prominent photographer who captured many important political and artistic figures in Weimar Berlin, including Kurt Weill, Lotte Lenya, Käthe Kollwitz, Max Liebermann and Albert Einstein. In the 1930s, as a refugee from Nazism in Britain, Simon rapidly re-established her studio, and portrayed many significant individuals there, such as Sir Kenneth Clark, Dame Peggy Ashcroft and Aneurin Bevan.

In 2016, The Wiener Library received a private donation, which included hundreds of Gerty Simon’s original prints, along with documentary evidence of her life and work. The quality of the photographs and significance of many of Gerty’s sitters, particularly as she photographed so many important cultural figures from the lost world of Weimar Berlin, as well as her story of displacement from Germany and re-establishment in Britain meant that this was a particularly compelling collection. This project will bring into focus, for the first time in eighty years, the work of this powerful and innovative photographic artist.


The Wiener Library needs help to discover the names and identities of around 70 unknown sitters who feature among the 300 or so portraits that make up our Gerty Simon collection. The portraits are available to browse on our Flickr page, where users have the ability to comment on, and suggest potential sitters. Where possible we have included any fragmentary details that are written on the reverse and have given an approximate date according to whether the portrait was taken in Berlin or London. You can either leave a comment under each image, or email our Photo Archivist with "FindingGerty" in the subject line.

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