Skip to content

Eva Frankfurther’s Drawings

May 20, 2023
by the gentle author

Click here to book for my next City of London walk on 4th June


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

9 Responses leave one →
  1. May 20, 2023

    ‘A soulful quality of her fellow East Enders’ is so apparent in these wonderful drawings.
    Clearly a special talent.
    Thank you GA for sharing Eva’s sad story.

  2. May 20, 2023

    I felt overcome with sadness looking at these images and thinking of a life lost so early. Who knows what Eva and her family endured before escaping. Such talent. What a terrible tragedy but a poignant legacy preserved. Thanks GA.

  3. ken sequin permalink
    May 20, 2023

    these are truly great drawings – am sure she could have achieved more – are there any paintings?

  4. Arabella Warner permalink
    May 20, 2023

    I looked through the pictures before reading the text and was overcome with their melancholy beauty. What a talent. Then I read the copy and was overcome by sadness all over again.

  5. Sonia Murray permalink
    May 20, 2023

    Eva captured the soul of her subjects in these wonderful portraits. How unbearably sad that her life reached peaks of joy and ended in the valley of despond. She lived in terror as a child but managed to escape the Nazis, come to a land of freedom and develop such great talent, only to lose her life to depression and suicide. A tragedy and a loss to the world

  6. Rosa permalink
    May 21, 2023

    These are truly wonderful.
    What a remarkable woman.

  7. Cathie Kahan permalink
    May 21, 2023

    Thank you so much for sharing this very humanitarian artist. So valuable. Also very sad she killed herself. Cathie, near Montreal!

  8. May 21, 2023

    Beautiful just beautiful

  9. May 21, 2023

    These drawings are hearbreakingly beautiful. What a talented artist and so sad to hear that she took her own life.

Leave a Reply

Note: Comments may be edited. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS