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Hans Jacoby

  • Hans Jacoby fled in 1938 to the Netherlands, where he was interned by the Dutch government in Hook of Holland. He was able to leave the camp and arrived, together with his wife Emma Jacoby, in Shanghai in 1940 where he continued to work as an artist.
  • Hans
  • Jacoby
  • Yang Ku Ba; Hans Jacobi

  • 06-11-1900
  • Dresden (DE)
  • 28-10-1074
  • Miami (US)
  • Artist
  • Hans Jacoby fled in 1938 to the Netherlands, where he was interned by the Dutch government in Hook of Holland. He was able to leave the camp and arrived, together with his wife Emma Jacoby, in Shanghai in 1940 where he continued to work as an artist.

    Word Count: 45

  • Photograph, Hans Jacoby, 1940, Hans Jacoby Collection (© Leo Baeck Institute, New York).
  • Hans Jacoby and his doctor wife Emma landed in Shanghai in 1941 where Emma Jacoby’s sister Gertrude Loewenrosen and her husband Siegfried L. Loewenrosen awaited them. Shortly after their arrival they were able to buy a house in a higher standard Shanghainese alleyway settlement. Unlike the majority of the European-Jewish refugees, their first residence was located outside foreign territory, in Columbia Road in the western district extension. The area around Columbia Road, also known as Columbia Circle had been subjected to a generous building development plan in the 1920s and housed many luxurious garden villas of which several were designed by the émigré architect L. E. Hudec. Emma Jacoby continued to work as a doctor and set up her own medical practice in the city centre while Hans Jacoby continued to work as an artist. Thanks to the war and the deteriorating living standards of many Shanghai residents, their first residence, which was beyond the reach of the settlement police, became unsafe. Their second residence was located close to and the third residence was located in the International Settlement. Hans Jacoby’s life in Shanghai is exceptionally well documented and available to the public as he donated his diaries, memoirs and documents, as well as a number of artworks, to the Leo Baeck Institute in New York. Thus, the following short text is largely based on his accounts. He wrote about his artistic routines and subjects and the networks he established in Shanghai, as well as about his encounters with local residents. Hans and Emma Jacoby were among the very few to learn Chinese seriously and establish contacts and friendships from among the Chinese community, who were to provide a great deal of support during the harsh war years and the couple's internment in the so-called Shanghai Ghetto. Before their forced relocation to a small room in Hongkou, they lived at three different addresses. Finding accommodation in Hongkou proved to be very difficult. The "Designated Area" was already densely populated and housing had been scarce before. Among Hans Jacoby's international acquaintances and friends were the architects Rudolf Hamburger and Richard Paulick, the sinologist and Asian language scholar Willy Tonn, who founded and ran the Asia Seminar in Hongkou, the journalist Alfred Dreifuß, Lothar Nagel their Chinese teacher, the later ARTA artists, the art dealer Armand Grosz, the art historian Lothar Brieger-Wasservogel and the photographer Hermann Schieberth. Hamburger and Paulick introduced Jacoby to local artists and students and Jacoby makes mention of his acquaintanceship with Chen Chi (1912–2005), who taught at St. John’s University in Shanghai (1942–1946) and emigrated in 1947 to the United States, where he pursued his artistic career. In his Shanghai records, Jacoby frequently mentioned his friend and student Mr. Wu. For safety reasons he used various aliases for persons he feared to compromise in his private writings. According to Jacobi Mr. Wu’s real name was Koo Bun Sun. According to his notes he had to be a member of the wealthy local elite. It was him who provided Hans Jacoby with his Chinese name. Armand Grosz’s alias was Professor Klein. Jacoby's records, which in part sound like fiction, refer to Professor Klein in the context of dubious art business practices, the British Secret Service and Ignaz Trebitsch Lincoln who was seen in in the so-called Shanghai Ghetto at that time. However, Grosz activities in the art field in Shanghai can be traced. Paulick, through whom Jacobi made Grosz's acquaintance, organised an exhibition of artworks by the artist Lesser Ury (1861–1931) in the rooms of Modern Homes. A Sotheby's auction of Israeli and International Art on 16 December 2008 in New York lists a pastel painting by Lesser Ury called House by a Lake. The following is given as provenance: “Lucie and Leo Meyerheim by descent from the estate of the artist, 1931 Professor Armand Grosz, Shanghai, circa 1939 (purchased from the above) Fritz and Adelaide Kauffman, Shanghai, circa 1944 purchased from the above) Donated to the present owner from the above, 1999.” The exhibition was apparently well received, at least a short time later a newspaper article appeared reporting on the latest fashion to decorate one's living space in the signature colors of Lesser Ury's paintings.
    Hans Jacoby reports that he bought his artistic supplies at the Wing One department store and via a friend who had a small business in Hongkou. This friend's last name was Kuttner and he died on May 14 in 1942 during one of many pandemic outbreaks due to the lack of proper nutrition and healthcare. When art supplies became scarce and the price inflated, Jacoby sometimes was provided with material by his clients, such as Paulick or Grosz, but his commissions became fewer.
    Despite the precarious, constricted and health damaging circumstances in the so-called Shanghai Ghetto, Hans and Emma Jacoby each managed to pursue their professions. With ongoing inflation, food shortages, increasing war activity and air raids, the situation became intense. The climate – heat, humidity, floods and icy winds – also took their toll. Throughout his time in Shanghai, Hans Jacoby’s art reflects his interest in local culture and religion. He observed street life and its social logistics, as well as the social logistics that shaped its protagonists. Like almost all foreign artists he portrayed the Rishka people, monks and street vendors. As an ARTA member and a Jewish artist at the Russian-Jewish Club, he took part in a few exhibitions organised by Paulick. In 1947, Hans and Emma Jacoby emigrated to the United States, to Massapequa, Long Island, and later settled in Miami in 1968.

    Word Count: 914

  • Hans Jacoby, Chinese Theatre Masks, oil on canvas, 66,6 x 58 cm, Shanghai, 1941, Hans Jacoby Collection (© Leo Baeck Institute, New York).
    Portrait of Willy Tonn, painting by Hans Jacoby, photography, Hans Jacoby Collection (© Leo Baeck Institute, New York).
    Hans Jacoby, Portrait of Bao Bao, oil on canvas, 60.2 x 50 cm around 1940 [probably 1943 or later], Shanghai, Hans Jacoby Collection (© Leo Baeck Institute, New York).
    Asia Seminar, programme, winter semester 1943/44, Hans Jacoby Collection, Box 1, Folder 5 (© Leo Baeck Institute, New York).
    Asia Seminar, card of Hans Jacoby, winter semester 1943/44, Hans Jacoby Collection, Box 1, Folder 5 (© Leo Baeck Institute, New York).
    Hans Jacoby, drawing of religious figure, Shanghai, Hans Jacoby Collection (© Leo Baeck Institute, New York).
    Ernst Handl, Self Portrait, drawing, 15 September 1943, Shanghai, Hans Jacoby Collection (© Leo Baeck Institute, New York).
  • Leo Back Institute, New York, Hans Jacoby Collection

    Word Count: 8

  • Mareike Hetschold
  • Shanghai, China (1941–1947), USA

  • Columbia Road, Western District Extension, (now Panyu Lu, Changning Lu); Yu Yuan Road, Western District Extension (now Changning Qu); Seymour Road, International Settlement (now Shaanxi Bei Lu, Putuo Qu); 519 Tongshan Road, Hongkou (now Tangshan Lu, Hongkou Qu), Shanghai (residence, studio, doctor practice) Shanghai

  • Shanghai
  • Mareike Hetschold. "Hans Jacoby." METROMOD Archive, 2021,, last modified: 15-09-2021.
  • David Ludwig Bloch

    David Ludwig Bloch is known for his paintings and watercolours revolving around the Holocaust and his exile. With the woodcuts from his time in exile in Shanghai, Bloch created an artistic account of everyday life in the city, while harvesting the simplicity of form and colour of the medium.

    Word Count: 49

    Hermann Schieberth
    PhotographerArt dealer

    Hermann Schieberth was a successful photographer who had two studios in Austria (from 1909/10? onwards): one in Vienna and the other in Kaltenleutgeben. Due to his Jewish background he had to flee in 1938 and arrived in Shanghai in 1939.

    Word Count: 37

    Association of Jewish Artists and Fine Art Lovers (ARTA)

    Seven Jewish artists living in the so-called Shanghai Ghetto joined together to form an art association in 1943. The founding members were: David Ludwig Bloch, Paul Fischer, Fred Fredden Goldberg, Ernst Handl, Max Heimann, Hans Jacoby and Alfred Mark.

    Word Count: 38

    Asia Seminar
    University / Higher Education Institute / Research Institute

    The Asia Seminar was run by the scholar Willy Tonn (1902–1945), who founded it in 1943 and enriched the cultural and scholarly life in the so-called Shanghai Ghetto during the harsh wartime period.

    Word Count: 31

    St. John’s University
    University / Higher Education Institute / Research Institute

    In the first half of the 20th century, St. John’s University in Shanghai was an important Protestant university under American leadership. During the 1940s, German emigrants also taught there, after British and American university lecturers were interned in the wake of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

    Word Count: 48

    Richard Paulick

    After studying with Hans Poelzig, Richard Paulick worked in Walter Gropius’s office and frequented the Bauhaus in Dessau before emigrating to Shanghai in 1933. After his return, he became an influential planner and architect in the GDR, from 1950 until his retirement

    Word Count: 41

    Hubertus Court

    The print was made by the artist Emma Bormann during her exile in Shanghai in the 1940s.The title suggest that the print offers a bird’s eye view from the Hubertus Court building.

    Word Count: 34