Frings, Josef Cardinal (1897 – 1978)
Long-serving cardinal-archbishop of Cologne.
Photograph (unsigned). Nota bene: the studio portrait has been glued down to a heavy wood-composite board with a pseudo frame. It would be possible for a skilled woodcrafter to carefully remove the print from this board and then have it professionally matted. The importance of the photographer merits such treatment.
This is a quality studio portrait by the celebrated photographer Hugo Erfurth (1874-1948) — portrait photographer par excellence of the intellectual and artistic avant-garde of the Weimar Republic in the 1920s. Many artists, including Oskar Kokoschka, Otta Dix, Max Beckmann, Marc Chagall and Paul Kee had their portraits taken in Erfurth’s atelier. He developed an elegiac style of portraiture. Erfurth’s work is characterized by a simple natural use of light, great psychological insight into the character of each of his subjects, and a masterful use of the technique of oil-pigment printing.
Frings was a signficant figure in Catholic resistance to Nazism. Elevated to the cardinalate in 1946 by Pope Pius XII. In one sermon, Frings described the persecution of the Jews as “himmelschreiendes Unrecht” — a crime that cries out to heaven. His popularity among the German people saved him from reprisals more than once. Nevertheless, he was closely monitored by the Gestapo with the aid of several informants, some of whom were clerics. Photograph – A handsome 8″x10″ sepia-tone, matte-finish, formal portrait of Cardinal Frings (circa the year he was named Archbishop of Cologne in 1942).