Index of Historic Collectors and Dealers of Cubism
Fischer, Ludwig and Rosa Bertha (née Haas), known as Rosy
Mysłowice (Myslowitz), Poland, 1860–Frankfurt-am-Main, 1922 and Frankfurt-am-Main 1869–Cairo, 1926

Between 1905 and 1925, German collectors of Jewish background Ludwig and Rosy Fischer assembled an impressive collection of primarily German Expressionist works, as well as at least two pre-Cubist paintings by Picasso.

Ludwig operated a successful trading business with his brother in law in Breslau (present day Wrocław). He and Rosy married in 1892 and the couple had two sons, Max, a journalist, and Ernst, a physiologist. In 1896, at age thirty-six, Ludwig Fischer retired and left Breslau, settling permanently in Frankfurt-am-Main in 1898. The Fischers commenced collecting in 1905 with several purchases made at auction in Munich. Their art holdings gradually increased, and the couple sold works along the way in order to refine the focus of their collection. By the time of Ludwig’s death in 1922 the collection comprised around five hundred paintings, sculptures, and works on paper.

The Fischers’s initial interests were German Impressionist and Secessionist painters Heinrich von Zügel and Johan Sperl, followed by Max Libermann, Lovis Corinth, Wilhelm Trübner, and Max Slevogt. Prior to the outbreak of World War I, the Fischers had acquired works by Oskar Kokoschka and Franz Marc, as well as two paintings by Picasso, one of them possibly from the Munich dealer Heinrich Thannhauser. The Fischers lent one painting to Thannhauser’s 1913 Picasso retrospective exhibition at Moderne Galerie, identified in the exhibition catalogue as Im Tuileriengarten (Tuileries Garden) (1901). The Fischers also owned Picasso, The Entombment (1901; later collection Pierre Loeb, Paris, Zervos, vol. 1, no. 52 as The Dead). Around 1916, the couple began purchasing the works of artists associated with Die Brücke, among them Erich Heckel, Emile Nolde, and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, buying from the dealer Ludwig Schames as well as directly from the artists, many of whom they befriended. The artists associated with Die Brücke formed the core of the Fischer collection: twenty-eight paintings by Kirchner, twelve by Heckel, and six by Nolde. Also incorporated into the collection were works by Vasily Kandinsky, Auguste Macke, Max Pechstein, and Chrisitian Rohfls.

After her husband’s death in 1922, which coincided with the period of postwar hyperinflation in Germany, Rosy turned to art dealing to supplement her income. Her Galerie Fischer für Neuzeitliche Kunst operated as of November 1922 out of the family apartment and specialized in contemporary art. In 1924 Rosy Fischer sold twenty-four paintings from the personal collection, among them Picasso’s The Entombment, to the Städtische Museum für Kunst und Kunstgewerbe in Halle (now Stiftung Moritzburg Halle (Saale) Kunstmuseum des Landes Sachsen-Anhalt). When Rosy Fischer died in 1926, the remainder of the collection as well as the gallery stock passed on to her sons. During the early 1930s, both brothers, but especially Max Fischer, sold works from their collections to or through the Berlin dealer Ferdinand Möller. After the Nationalist Socialists came to power in 1933, Ernst Fischer was dismissed from a university post due to his Jewish background. In 1934 he immigrated with his family to the United States, bringing with him his remaining portion of his parents’ collection, 253 works in total. Nazi authorities confiscated the paintings acquired by the museum in Halle and included them the 1937 Entartete Kunst (‘degenerate art’) exhibition, which opened at the Archeologisches Institut in Munich on July 19 and traveled throughout Germany and Austria until 1939. The confiscated works were subsequently sold, some possibly destroyed. Max Fischer, who remained in Germany until 1938, also immigrated to the United States, but brought with him only a fraction of his portion of the collection. Little is known about the remainder of Max Fischer’s collection that he left behind in Germany. In 2009, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts acquired about two hundred works from the Ludwig and Rosy Fischer collection from the family of Ernst Fischer.

Contributed by Anna Jozefacka, July 2017
For more information, see:

Daix, Pierre and Georges Boudaille, with Joan Rosselet. The Blue and Rose Periods. A Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings, 1900-1906. Greenwich, Conn.: New York Graphic Society, 1967.

Expressionismus und Exil. Die Sammlung Ludwig und Rosy Fischer Frankfurt am Main. Exh. cat. Munich: Prestel-Verlag and Jüdisches Museum Frankfurt-am-Main, 1990.

German Expressionist Art. The Ludwig and Rosy Fischer Collection. Exh. cat. Richmond: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, distributed by the University of Washington Press, Seattle and London, 1987.

The Passionate Collectors: Ludwig and Rosi Fischer and German Expressionism. Exh. cat. Clifton Forge, VA: Alleghany Highlands Arts & Crafts Center, Inc., 1985.

Zervos, Christian. Pablo Picasso. Vol. 1, Ouvres de 1895 à 1906. Paris: Les Éditions Cahiers d’art, 1942.