Can't provide a photograph, but I did an hour yesterday for my own purposes on Adolph Birkenruth and although it is very far from rigorous and with enormous gaps, heres what comes up on line only - footnotes provided:-
Born Grahamstown Cape of Good Hope, South Africa on 28 November 1857 son of Nathan, a Prussian-born diamond broker and his Frankfurt –born wife Rosa, although many sources, including Adolph himself 2, state his birth date to be 1861. His name was registered as Adolph, but he is frequently referred to as Adolphus. By 1860 the family had moved to London where his younger brother and sister were born.1
The family returned to Frankfurt some time in the 1860s where, according to his entry in Who’s Who 2, Adolph received his education.
There is photographic evidence of the family having some interest in art as Mr & Mrs Birkenruth appear to have had their portraits painted in Britain by Walter Goodman (1838-1912) in 1871-2 3.
By 1881 Adolph was recorded as being an unmarried diamond polisher living in Pembridge Crescent, Notting Hill, with his parents and siblings Wallie, Johanna – who achieved some fame as a bookbinder 3 - and Helen. 5 Also, according to Who’s Who, his artistic education was gained in Paris and certainly his exhibited works of the late 1880s are of French subjects: in 1887 he showed The Fete of Ste Marguerite at the Royal Academy (54). By 1889 his work was singled out by the eminent critic M H Spielman as being worthy of note. 6
He appears to have enjoyed considerable success as an artist employed by The Illustrated London News to illustrate a serialisation of Walter Beasant’s novel The Rebel Queen in 1893, and the same year a drawing of the actress Miss Fritzi Ferry appeared in The Sketch appropriately illustrating a short story Diamond Merchants Jewellers; and thirty one years later he was still working for the ILN writing and illustrating The Conquest of the Air. Between times he illustrated a number of books by Violet Hunt for publishers A & C Black.
illustration from The Conquest of the Air 1924
He also produced theatrical designs in watercolour on silk 7, but neither did he neglect his painting for, by 1904, Birkenruth was showing Views of the Engadine at the Carfax Gallery in New Bond Street.8
His studio was visited by Compton McKenzie in his youth, who subsequently described it as an infamous gay hangout , frequented by Oscar Wilde and Lord Alfred Douglas. 9
Birkenruth died on September 15th 1940 at 23 Cheyne Row, London, and his will proved on January 6th 1941 10.
- British Census 1881
- Who’s Who vol.58 (A & C Black, London 1906) p.156
- Marianne Tidcome Women Bookbinders, 1880-1920 (Oak Knoll Press, 1996) pp. 42, 97, 117.
- Op cit.1
- Marion Henry Spielman Magazine of Art (Petter and Gallpin, 1889) vol XII p. 124
- Mallams, Oxford, auction 28 January 2004 lot 520
- The Studio Volume: 31 Issue 133 Date: April 1904 p.254
- Anthony Slide Lost Gay Novels (Harrington Press, NY, 2003) p.119
- The London Gazette 15 February 1941 p.929, notice entered by Leach, Sims & Co., 18 Bedford Square, London WC1.