Frankfurt am Main, Germany
London, England, UK
Artist and art historian. Auerbach grew up in an educated Jewish family in Frankfurt. Her mother was the painter, Emma Kehrmann (1867-1958). She studied art history between 1917-24 at the universities in Frankfurt, Bonn and Munich, under Rudolf Kautzsch (q.v.) and Heinrich Wölfflin (q.v.). Her 1925 Frankfurt dissertation, under Kautzsch, focused on 16th-century German portraiture in Franken, Schwaben and Bavaria. She taught at Frankfurter Volksbildungsheim (1925-33). Between 1928-30 she attended classes in painting at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Frankfurt and private classes with Willi Baumeister (1889-1955). As an artist, she exhibited her paintings at various art exhibitions in Germany. In 1933 she emigrated to England where she continued to exhibit her artwork. During World War II, she participated in was service in the Woman's Voluntary Service. When a bomb destroyed her studio, she resolved to return to art history. She lectured at various London colleges (Crosby Hall, Westfield College). Between 1945-49 she resumed study at the Courtauld Institute in London under Sir Henry Hake (1892-1951), the director of the National Portrait Gallery. She wrote a second Ph.D. dissertation in 1949 on English portraiture and patronage in the 16th century. From 1947-75 she was a visiting lecturer at the Polytechnic Institute in London. In addition, she lectured at the Metropolitan Museum in New York (1970-75) and National Gallery of Art as well as other institutions. She published on Tudor-era portraits and manuscripts in journals such as the Burlington Magazine, Apollo and The Connoisseur. Her archives are at Skinners Library, City University, London.
[dissertation]: Die Deutsche Bildnismalerei im 16. Jh. in Franken, Schwaben und Bayern. Frankfurt, 1923-26; [2nd disssertation]: The English Patronage of Art from ca. 1520-1590, London, 1949; Tudor Artists: a Study of Painters in the Royal Service and of Portraiture on Illuminated Documents from the Accession of Henry VIII to the Death of Elizabeth I. London: Athlone, 1954; Nicolas Hilliard. London: Routledge and Paul, 1961.
Ulrike Wendland, Biographisches Handbuch deutschsprachiger Kunsthistoriker im Exil: Leben und Werk der unter dem Nationalsozialismus verfolgten und vertriebenen Wissenschaftler. München: Saur, 1999, vol. 1, 14-16; Christine Rohrschneider, "Erna Auerbach," in Allgemeines Künstlerlexikon, 5. Munich and Leipzig: Saur, 1992, pp. 617-18; Dictonary of British Artists 1880-1940, ed. by J. Johnson and A. Greutzner, Suffolk: Antique Collectors' Club, 1976, p. 33; Gabriele Hofner-Kulenkamp, Kunsthistorikerinnen in Exil (Manuscript, Hamburg, 1991). Obituariey: Times (London), June 27, 1975.