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The Leydens: Sculpture, Paintings, Cartoons

  • In 1948 Albrecht and Rudi von Leyden sold their personal works of art in order to set up an “Artists' Aid Fund”, which became an institution in the following years.
  • The Leydens: Sculpture, Paintings, Cartoons

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  • The Leydens: Sculpture, Paintings, Cartoons
  • Exhibition
  • 21-05-1948
  • 29-05-1948
  • In 1948 Albrecht and Rudi von Leyden sold their personal works of art in order to set up an “Artists' Aid Fund”, which became an institution in the following years.

    Word Count: 29

  • In 1948 Albrecht and Rudi von Leyden sold their personal works of art in order to set up an “Artists’ Aid Fund”, which became an institution in the following years.
    On 21 May 1948, the English gentleman A. St J. Shuttleworth opened the Exhibition by the Leydens: Sculpture, Paintings, Cartoons to a large crowd of art lovers in the salon of the Bombay Art Society. Four members of the German von Leyden family exhibited their personal works of art: Rudi von Leyden showed his Denley caricatures, Albrecht his oil paintings, mother Luise her watercolours and father Victor Ernst von Leyden his wood carvings.
    Albrecht Robert von Leyden (1905–1994) worked from 1927 for Agfa Photo Co. in India. His younger brother Rudolf Reinhold von Leyden (1908–1983), a doctor of geology and later an advertising specialist and well-known art critic and art promoter in Bombay, had to leave Germany in 1933 for political reasons and was taken in by his brother Albrecht in Bombay. Their parents, Victor Ernst von Leyden (1880–1963) and Luise von Leyden, (née Reichenheim 1883–1976), joined their sons in 1939 after their house in Garmisch-Partenkirchen was expropriated. The Nazis in Germany persecuted Luise von Leyden because of her Jewish origins. They had already, in 1934, forced her husband to retire from his positions as ministerial director at the Prussian Ministry of the Interior and Senate President.
    However Albrecht also lost his job as general director of Agfa India in the autumn of 1938 for racist reasons. The NSDAP Auslandsorganisation (NSDAP-AO; NSDAP foreign organisation) imposed massive pressure on German companies, their employees and all Germans living in Bombay. Every German company was forced to fire its Jewish employees and employ German Nazis to expand its informal political network.
    After a few difficult months, Albrecht found employment with Allied Photographics Ltd. The united family lived at 17 Pali Hill, Bandra, for the entire war, until August 1948 (Rudi later had an apartment in downtown Bombay).
    During the interwar years, the Leyden parents had lived with their five children Ernst, Albrecht, Rudolf, Wolfgang and Viktoria in a highly educated, bourgeois, emancipated milieu in Berlin with an emphasis on art education and the observance of rituals and special days. In addition, the father attached great importance to athletic performance, so all of them were mountaineers and excellent athletes in various disciplines. A very sporty family that broke traditional gender roles and enjoyed a close lifelong relationship between children and parents. The children were encouraged to practise science, the arts, and sports alike. Through socialisation and parental influence, they became all-rounders and showed an interest in politics, science, sports, and various arts, which they also actively practised.
    After his forced retirement Viktor von Leyden took up woodcarving and he pursued this passion during his reclusive years of exile in India. Luise von Leyden adapted very well to life in India and led a very active social life during the nine years she spent there. She kept her sons’ networks very much alive and managed the household and servants at the family home at Pali Hill.
    The Leyden exhibition was a typical joint venture of the Leyden brothers, Rudi and Albrecht. They were very close and had lived together in a foreign country since 1933. Albrecht initially financed Rudi and his journey to India after the Nazis started looking for him. As art connoisseurs and amateur artists, they developed unique art-political considerations and instruments to support and encourage young avant-garde artists in Bombay. As an Agfa manager, Albrecht had built up business networks from 1927 on which his brother could build from 1933. Later they expanded these to include emerging young artists by arranging advertising contracts and gathering audiences and collectors for their works of art in order to make a living. Both used their skills as advertising experts for young, aspiring artists.
    The two men developed their own individual modes of expression in the visual arts; Rudi pursued drawing and cartoons, Albrecht oil painting and photography.
    For the exhibition folder, Rudi drew one of his well-known Denley (from Ley-Den to Den-Ley) cartoons, which he had published in The Illustrated Weekly of India.  Albrecht was the financial backbone of the project, raising money for impoverished artists. Art patronage, promotion and funding were not the prime agenda in civil war-stricken India after Partition. The proceeds from the sale of the oil paintings and cartoons were used to help set up the “Artists’ Aid Fund”, which was transformed into an official institution in 1950. In subsequent years, other artists followed their example and donated works of art to the annual exhibitions to help artists in need. The Bombay Art Society Salon, was renamed the “Artists’ Aid Center” and later the “Artist’s Center”, presumably after the inauguration of the Jehangir Art Gallery.
    For Luise and Victor Ernst this was their farewell exhibition. They sold the art they had created during their time in exile and may have used the proceeds to finance their journey home to Germany after nine years of exile in India. The Leydens: Sculpture, Paintings, Cartoons exhibition was an early post-independence project to create sustainability for emerging local artists by creating funding and institution building.

    Word Count: 844

  • Folder for the Leyden exhibition in May 1948, front and back (© Private Archive Flora Veit-Wild, Berlin; All Rights Reserved).
  • Folder (inside) for the Leyden exhibition in May 1948 with the titles of the exhibits (© Private Archive Flora Veit-Wild, Berlin; All Rights Reserved).
    The four exhibiting artists: Luise and Victor Ernst von Leyden (front), Rudolf and Albrecht von Leyden (with glasses) (back) (© Private Archive James von Leyden, Lewes; All Rights Reserved).
    The opening was well attended: in front the Elephant, woodcarving by Victor Ernst von Leyden (far left), who is sitting under his sculpture in conversation with a gentleman, his wife Luise (with a headscarf, from behind) sitting in the same row. Käthe Langhammer moves to the far right in the photo; the group at the back in front of the oil paintings by Albrecht von Leyden (from left): Kekoo Gandhy, Walter Langhammer (from behind), Khorshed Gandhy in conversation with two unknown women (© Private Archive James von Leyden, Lewes; All Rights Reserved).
    Rudolf von Leyden´s Denley caricatures on display and for sale (© Private Archive James von Leyden, Lewes; All Rights Reserved).
    The financial person behind the project: Albrecht “Lolly” von Leyden, an enthusiastic amateur painter, self-portrait from later years, n.d. (painting currently lost; Photo: Margit Franz, 2004; All Rights Reserved).
    Main entrance to Ador House, the exhibition venue in the salon of the Bombay Art Society, 2018 (Photo: Margit Franz; All Rights Reserved).
    Ador House, exhibition venue in the Bombay Art Society Salon, 2018 (Photo: Margit Franz; All Rights Reserved).
  • Anonymous. “Leydenʼs Family Art Works: Bombay Exhibition.” The Times of India, 22 May 1948, p. 9.

    Arbuthnot, Mollie. “Bombay Satire: Rudolf von Leydenʼs Political Cartoons in India in the 1930s and 40s.” 12 December 2018, British Library, Asian and African studies blog, Accessed 10 April 2021.

    Dalmia, Yashodhara. The Making of Modern Indian Art: The Progressives. Oxford University Press, 2001.

    Franz, Margit. Gateway India: Deutschsprachiges Exil in Indien zwischen britischer Kolonialherrschaft, Maharadschas und Gandhi. CLIO, 2015.

    Franz, Margit. “From Dinner Parties to Galleries: The Langhammer-Leyden-Schlesinger Circle in Bombay – 1940s through the 1950s.” Arrival Cities. Migrating Artists and New Metropolitan Topographies in the 20th Century, edited by Burcu Dogramaci et al., Leuven University Press, 2020, pp. 73–90. Project Muse, doi: 10.1353/book.77990. Accessed 30 March 2021.

    Gopalakrishnan, V.S. “‘Art is Man’s Nature; Nature is God’s Art’. Philips James Bailey (1816–1912).” Jubilant Gold: 50 Years of Artistsʼ Centre, A Celebratory Exhibition of Works of K.H. Ara, S. Bakre, H.A. Gade, M.F. Husain, S.H. Raza, F.N. Souza, exh. cat. Artistsʼ Centre, Mumbai, 2001, n.p.

    Leyden, Wolfgang von. Growing up under the Weimar Republic, 1918–1933. Vantage Press, 1984.

    Veit-Wild, Flora, “‘Es ist kein Traum, Dir auf Deinen ersten richtigen Brief zu antworten...’. Luise von Leyden als Chronistin jüdischen Exils in Indien.” Das Ende des Exils? Briefe von Frauen nach 1945 (Frauen und Exil, 7), edited by Irene Below et al., edition text + kritik, 2014, pp. 88–104.

    Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. “Ernst Viktor von Leyden.” 8 September, Wikipedia, Accessed 10 April 2021.

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  • Private Private Archive Flora Veit-Wild Archive, Berlin.
    Private Archive James von Leyden, Lewes.
    Private Archive Margit Franz, Sinabelkirchen.

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  • Margit Franz
  • Albrecht Robert “Lolly” von Leyden, Luise von Leyden, Rudolf Reinhard “Rudi” “Rudy” von Leyden, Victor Ernst von Leyden

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  • Wooden Sculptures by Victor Ernst von Leyden, Watercolors by Luise von Leyden, Oil Paintings by Albrecht von Leyden, Cartoons by Rudolf von Leyden.

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  • 6 Rampart Row, Kala Ghoda, Bombay (now 6, K Dubash Marg, Kala Ghoda, Fort, Mumbai).

  • Bombay
  • No
  • Margit Franz. "The Leydens: Sculpture, Paintings, Cartoons." METROMOD Archive, 2021,, last modified: 14-09-2021.
  • Rudolf von Leyden
    GeologistAdvertisement SpecialistJournalistArt CriticArt CollectorCartoonist

    The advertisement expert, Rudolf von Leyden, became a major art critic and art historian in Bombay in the 1940s, advocating an urgent need for modernism in art in post-colonial India.

    Word Count: 30

    Emanuel Schlesinger
    Factory OwnerTechnical DirectorArt CollectorArt Critic

    The art collector Schlesinger provided primarily financial aid by creating working opportunities for young artists in post-independence Bombay, and initiated the corporate culture of buying art.

    Word Count: 26

    Ernst N. Schaeffer
    JournalistPhotojournalistTour GuideEditorRadio ModeratorNewspaper Correspondent

    In exile Ernst Schaeffer diversified his journalistic practice and developed an understanding of Bombay through walking the city streets, taking on street-level-photography and photojournalism.

    Word Count: 24

    Schimmel’s Wedding Film 1948

    The film shows Schimmel’s Jewish wedding ceremony at the prestigious Glamis Villa, followed by lunch at the Taj Mahal Hotel. Among the guests were Käthe and Walter Langhammer.

    Word Count: 30

    Open Studio Evenings by Käthe and Walter Langhammer

    The painter Walter Langhammer and his wife Käthe built an informal infrastructure to promote local avant-garde artists and regularly invited them to Open Studio Evenings at their studio.

    Word Count: 29

    Jehangir Art Gallery
    Art GalleryAuditorium HallLibrary

    Efforts to create spaces for the democratic presentation, discussion and reflection of art in Bombay after independence led to the establishment of the Jehangir Art Gallery in 1952.

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    Bombay Art Society

    One of the oldest art societies in India founded by colonial rulers, Bombay Art Society showcased art students and professional artists from all over India, including the Progressive Artists of Bombay.

    Word Count: 31