Object of the Month: April

Photographic estate of Harry Freud (son of Sigmund’s younger brother Alexander)

Not only Sigmund, but also his brother Alexander, born in 1866, enjoyed great professional success. Alexander Freud embarked on a career as a businessman, studying the transportation of his day in great depth and founding the Verein der Tarifeure, an association of tariff experts. His son Harry Freud, who gained his PhD in law from Vienna University in 1933, was an ardent amateur photographer. Numerous of his photo albums have survived that came into the possession of the Archive in 2008 as part of a donation comprising a voluminous estate, that also includes postcards, letters, books and individual photographs.

Alexander Freud’s family was well-to-do, thus allowing them to travel extensively. The photo albums that make up the most substantial part of the estate in terms of the history of photography and the personal history of the Freud family were created between 1932 and 1956. Harry Freud meticulously recorded travels and family get-togethers in his photographs. Six albums from 1932 to 1938 illustrate their private life in extensive series of photographs, from Vienna, across Europe, even to the USA. According to the testator Hanno Fontaine, Harry Freud’s stepson, one motive behind some of these trips was the possible necessity of emigrating. For want of written documentation, this cannot be taken as certain, but does appear plausible at least with regard to the trip to America in 1938.

In the context of the numerous travel photographs, the photos of their home in Austria at Untere Viaduktgasse 55 stand out in the album of 1937/38. Wishing to create private mementos, the private Harry Freud made a point of documenting his family’s domicile down the last detail: he even photographed the bathroom and bedrooms—unlike Edmund Engelman’s photographic series of the offices and living quarters at Berggasse 19 taken shortly before Sigmund Freud’s emigration. In 1938, shortly after the Anschluss, Alexander Freud’s family succeeded in emigrating to Canada via Switzerland.


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