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Eva Frankfurther’s Drawings

August 3, 2019
by the gentle author

There is an unmistakeable melancholic beauty which characterises Eva Frankfurther‘s East End drawings made during her brief working career in the nineteen-fifties. Born into a cultured Jewish family in Berlin in 1930, she escaped to London with her parents in 1939 and studied at St Martin’s School of Art between 1946 and 1952, where she was a contemporary of Leon Kossoff and Frank Auerbach.

Yet Eva turned her back on the art school scene and moved to Whitechapel, taking menial jobs at Lyons Corner House and then at a sugar refinery, immersing herself in the community she found there. Taking inspiration from Rembrandt, Käthe Kollwitz and Picasso, Eva set out to portray the lives of working people with compassion and dignity.

In 1958, afflicted with depression, Eva took her own life aged just twenty-eight, but despite the brevity of her career she revealed a significant talent and a perceptive eye for the soulful quality of her fellow East Enders.

“West Indian, Irish, Cypriot and Pakistani immigrants, English whom the Welfare State had passed by, these were the people amongst whom I lived and made some of my best friends. My colleagues and teachers were painters concerned with form and colour, while to me these were only means to an end – the understanding of and commenting on people.” – Eva Frankfurther

Images courtesy Bishopsgate Institute

You may also wish to take a look at

Alfred Daniels, Artist

Barnett Freedman, Artist

Morris Goldstein, Artist

Leon Kossoff at Arnold Circus

16 Responses leave one →
  1. August 3, 2019

    Eva was so talented, and so well educated in art, it was a tragedy that she suicided at a very young age. Her works remind me most of Kathe Kollwitz who was herself psychiatrically disturbed.

  2. August 3, 2019

    She was a wonderful artist. How sad that she took her own life. Valerie

  3. Bernie permalink
    August 3, 2019

    A great artistic loss.
    If she really settled in Whitechapel and worked for Lyons, it would not have been at Lyons Corner House because these were all West End establishments. The Lyons in Whitechapel was close to the underground station; I often had my tea there between work at the Medical College and studies at Birkbeck in Malet Street.

  4. Jill Wilson permalink
    August 3, 2019

    Thank you for highlighting another talented female East End artist. The drawings are very empathetic and full of character.

    What a tragedy that she cut her life short so young…

  5. August 3, 2019

    What wonderful drawings. So moving and expressive, but so sad a life. One can only imagine the incredible artist she would have become. Thank you so much, as always. Ruth

  6. Lesley permalink
    August 3, 2019

    Dear Eva, If you were here today, In your 90s you would be adored. So sad you passed so young. L❤️

  7. August 3, 2019

    Drawings have a lot of Käthe Kollwitz’ Inspiration. Thanks a lot for this post!

    Love & Peace

  8. Paul Loften permalink
    August 3, 2019

    It has to be said her depression came through in her art. Not a sign of happiness anywhere ,

  9. Sonia Murray permalink
    August 3, 2019

    Eva was brilliant – such sympathetic and perceptive drawings of the working men and women who became her friends. Her death was a tragedy. How much more she would have given to the world if she had lived!

  10. Maureen Cocklin permalink
    August 3, 2019

    Another interesting article. In response to Bernie’s Comment, there was a Lyons Corner House in Aldgate.

  11. Dianne permalink
    August 3, 2019

    The sensitivity of Eva’s work offers a dignity to those she drew as well as those who view her work. Everyone has value. Hers is a gentle reminder.

  12. Natasha de Chroustchoff permalink
    August 3, 2019

    Thank you for bringing Eva to our attention. She deserves it.

  13. DEBRA MATHENEY permalink
    August 3, 2019

    Catching up after a few days away. LOVED the visit to Dr. Johnson’s house, using his definitions. It is such an evocative place. Came home to my 3 cats who are a great comfort to me in these very trying times. So glad you have a feline companion as did Dr. Johnson.

    These drawings sensitively capture the despair so many among us feel. Dr. Johnson found solace in sociability (which I fear is less common now thanks to the internet’s fake social milieu.). He often shared his homes with others in true Christian spirit. Sadly, I prefer cats.

  14. Susan permalink
    August 3, 2019

    These are lovely. I wish there was a way to purchase copies of these.

  15. Pamela Traves permalink
    August 4, 2019

    Eva was an Amazing Artist. Thank You So Much for Letting me meet her.

  16. Ken permalink
    August 8, 2019

    One of your most poignant portraits . Her feelings permeate her drawings. I do like her swift pen and wash sketches. Ken

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