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Ury, Lesser

URY, LESSER

URY, LESSER (1861–1931), German painter. Ury, who was born in Birnbaum, Prussia, went to Berlin at the age of 12 and two years later was apprenticed to a clothing merchant. When he had saved enough money, he began to study art, first in Duesseldorf and then in Brussels and Paris. A prize from the Berlin Academy enabled him to train further in Italy. Although he was something of a vagrant, Ury made his headquarters in Berlin from 1886 and there led a poverty-stricken, asocial life until he was over 60. It was only then that his melancholy paintings of city streets in stormy weather began to sell for high prices. He was a versatile artist and some of his earlier works, particularly his landscapes and his flower studies, achieved a glow of color that anticipated the goal of the expressionists. He produced drawings, lithographs, and etchings, but his finest works were his pastels. Ury repeatedly attempted ambitious subjects on a monumental scale, some of them suggested by events in contemporary Jewish life. His Jerusalem is a study of refugees from czarist Russia at the turn of the century sitting aimlessly on a bench, staring into nothing. The most famous of his somewhat theatrical biblical paintings, Jeremiah – the brooding prophet reclining under a vast, star-studded sky – is in the Tel Aviv Museum. Ury's fame had spread far beyond Germany. The retrospective exhibition arranged by the Berlin National Gallery to celebrate his 70th birthday turned into a memorial exhibition. After World War ii, West Germany tried to repair the damage done to his reputation in the Nazi era with several comprehensive shows.

bibliography:

A. Donath, Lesser Ury (1921). add. bibliography: D. Rosenbach (2002); H.A. Schlögl, Lesser UryZauber des Lichts (1995); C.C. Schuetz (ed.), Lesser Ury. Bilder der BibelDer Malerradierer. Brochure for the exhibition at the Käthe-Kollwitz-Museum Berlin and in the "Neue Synagoge Berlin – Centrum Judaicum" Foundation (2002); J. Seyppel, Joachim: Lesser Ury. Der Maler der alten City. LebenKunstWirkung (1987; with catalogue raisonné).

[Alfred Werner]

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