Kaete Ephraim Marcus


Kaete Ephraim-Marcus (1892–1970), who arrived in Palestine in the 1930s, had already been a recognized as an active artist in Germany.

Born in Breslau, she studied art there and later in Berlin,

with Lovis Corinth (1858–1925) and Max Beckmann (1884–1950).


In the years 1916–1919 she painted portraits of her friends, of German intellectuals and of workers. In 1917 she married Dr. Josef Marcus, one of the leaders of the Zionist movement in Germany and a founder of the Blau-Weiss youth movement. In 1920 she met Käthe Kollwitz (1867–1945) in Berlin and was influenced by her and by other Expressionist painters.


On the advice of the Expressionist painter Otto Mueller (1874–1930) she traveled to Paris to study at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière and with André Lhote, and there she adopted a lighter and more colorful style. In 1928 she was accepted into the Association of German Painters and in 1930 she moved to Düsseldorf and joined the Rhein Group.

Ephraim-Marcus visited Palestine twice (for the inauguration of the Hebrew University in 1925 and for the opening of the Maccabiah Games in 1932), painting landscapes and portraits there.


In 1933 she and her family left Germany because of Hitler’s rise to power and traveled to England, from which they immigrated to Palestine in 1934. To earn a living she opened a bed-and-breakfast lodging in Beit ha-Kerem, Jerusalem. In 1943 she opened a studio in the Old City, but was evicted from it by the British in 1947. Later it was totally destroyed by Arabs, who burned her works. During the siege of Jerusalem she painted many war scenes. In 1948 she and her family were evacuated to Ramat Gan.


She studied sculpture with Moshe Sternschuss (b. 1903) and concurrently continued painting and sculpting. Ephraim-Marcus did not belong to any group or defined trend. Her work has an atmosphere of melancholy, loneliness and alienation. She often painted subjects of mothers and children, bewildered and lonely women in hostile environments, new immigrants and transit camps. She also depicted fishermen, pioneers, and landscapes of Safed, Lake Kinneret and the Negev.