Herschel, Otto

Otto Herschel


30 December 1871 Teplitz-Schönau – 14 December 1958 Richmond, Virginia, USA

Otto Herschel came from a Bohemian Jewish family from Teplitz-Schönau (now Teplice, CZ), where his father Johann was a businessman. Otto attended the arts and crafts school there before moving to Vienna in 1888, where he took painting classes at the arts and crafts school with Franz Matsch and Rudolf Rössler. In 1895 he went on a study trip to Italy and transferred in April 1896 to the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich, where he studied with Karl von Marr Malerei. In Munich he exhibited works at the Glaspalast and elsewhere. In 1901 or 1902 he returned to Vienna and opened a studio at Marxergasse 25 in the 3rd district. In 1908 he was accepted into the Genossenschaft der bildenden Künstler (Society of Fine Artists). Before the First World War he took part in numerous national and international exhibitions. He painted many urban landscapes during study trips to the Netherlands. Between the wars he remained popular and exhibited regularly both in the Künstlerhaus and in his own studio, experimenting with the Impressionist style. From 1905 he had been in contact with the Städtische Sammlungen Wien, to which he had donated one of his works in that year. In 1936 Herschel offered to sell Altwiener fashion items and accessories to the Städtische Sammlungen, but the purchases were repeatedly postponed for budgetary reasons, until Herschel, under pressure of persecution by the Nazis as a Jew, declared his willingness in May 1938 to reduce the asking price for the works by half. The sale eventually took place in May 1939 under increasing pressure. The documents do not indicate whether Herschel ever received the agreed amount. He ultimately managed to flee with his Dutch wife Clara, née Wiener, to the Netherlands in summer or autumn 1939, from where they travelled to Belgium and then at the end of the year to New York on SS Westerland, arriving in the USA on 1 January 1940. In 1946 he became a US citizen. On 25 March 2003, on the basis of the results of systematic provenance research in the Wien Museum, the Vienna restitution commission recommended the restitution of the objects acquired by the Städtische Sammlungen from Otto Herschel in 1939.

Author Info
Publications about the person / institution

Vierter Bericht des amtsführenden Stadtrates für Kultur und Wissenschaft über die gemäß dem Gemeinderatsbeschluss vom 29. April 1999 erfolgte Übereignung von Kunst- und Kulturgegenständen aus den Sammlungen der Museen der Stadt Wien sowie der Wiener Stadt- und Landesbibliothek vom 10. November 2003 (Restitutionsbericht 2003), URL: www.wienmuseum.at/fileadmin/user_upload/PDFs/Restitutionsbericht_2003.pdf (2.9.2021).

Peter Eppel/Christian Mertens, Die Restitutionen von Kunst- und Kulturgegenständen im Bereich der Stadt Wien 1998–2001. Museen der Stadt Wien und Wiener Stadt- und Landesbibliothek, Wien 2001.

Regina Wonisch/Angelika Brechelmacher, Flucht und Deportation Wien – Prag – Lódz. Jüdische Biografien zwischen Österreich und der Tschechischen Republik nachgezeichnet anhand der Prager und Wiener Postkarten aus dem Ghetto Litzmannstadt. www.aau.at/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Flucht-und-Deportation-Wien-Prag-Lodz-FIN.pdf (4.9.2021).

Wien Geschichte Wiki, URL: www.geschichtewiki.wien.gv.at/Otto_Herschel (4.9.2021).

Teplitz-Schönauer Anzeiger, 26.9.1891, 5; 12.10.1895, 9; 18.7.1906, 8; 2.11.1908, 3; 13.9.1915, 3.

Neue Freie Presse, 15.12.1924, 5.

Neues Wiener Journal, 29.5.1931, 6.

Publications by the person / institution

Otto Herschel, Auf dem Vesuv, in: Teplitz-Schönauer Anzeiger, 12. Oktober 1895, 9–10.

Otto Herschel, Wie einer die Schönheit der Kleinstadt fand, in: Teplitz-Schönauer Anzeiger, 24. August 1907, 6.

Otto Herschel, Einiges über Architektur und Kultur, in: Teplitz-Schönauer Anzeiger, 29. August 1908, 7–8.

Otto Herschel, Der Teplitzer Museumsbau, in: Teplitz-Schönauer Anzeiger, 8. Juni 1918, 3.


Database of Modern Exhibitions (DoME) European Paintings and Drawings 1905–1915, URL: exhibitions.univie.ac.at/person/gnd/1011848112 (4.9.2021).

Ellis Island Foundation. Passenger search: Otto Herschel, URL: www.statueofliberty.org/discover/passenger-ship-search (4.9.2021).

Matrikeldatenbank der Akademie der Bildenden Künste, München, URL: matrikel.adbk.de/matrikel/mb_1884-1920/jahr_1896/matrikel-01545 (4.9.2021).

OeStA/AdR, E-uReang, VVSt, VA 47030, Clara Herschel.