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Fritz Johannes Modrow's paintings

11.06.2021 – 30.11.2021

Pictures – views of Szczecin – by Fritz Johannes Modrow from the collection of the State Archives in Szczecin

Curator: dr hab. Paweł Gut
The State Archives in Szczecin houses three canvases by Fritz Modrow, showing characteristic views of parts of Szczecin and referring to its historical traditions. These paintings were created at the turn of the 1930s and 1940s. These are oil paintings made on canvas in frames from that period.

He was born in 1888 in Bartków Gryfiński and died in 1986 in Kippenheim in the Black Forest. He lived in Jesteburg near Hamburg for many years. Studying at the Art Academy (Kunstakademie) in Berlin, he then worked in the German capital as a painter, visual artist, architect and screenwriter. At the turn of the 1930s, he also lived in Szczecin.In his painting, he focused on showing urban landscapes, presenting cities in their historical contexts. Szczecin, often the subject of his work, was portrayed as a city of the Hanseatic League, and as the city of the sea, port, shipping and trade.Two of his paintings are currently on display at the opening ceremony of the Lentz Villa.

The first of these is titled "The Oder and the Old Town",painted in the 1930s, and shows the river with the buildings along the riverside part of the city as seen from Baumstrasse (Kłodna street) renamed after 1945 as Pływacka St at Łasztownia. The buildings of the Old Town are shown to depict the Hanseatic, medieval roots of Szczecin. By emphasizing the shops and awnings above the shop windows, he showed the commercial nature of the city. He strengthened this impression by displaying several boats and ships on the Oder, both moored and at sail. In the line of buildings in the picture, you can see St. Jacob's Church tower as well as the Pomeranian Dukes' Castle. The author probably painted this view not from his observations but from a photograph, which, according to Ewa Gwiazdowska, is evident by a horizontal, flattened contour to the buildings, specific for photography.

The second of Modrow's works, "The Oder and Hakenterrasse", shows Szczecin from the perspective of the Ewa Granary's roof facing towards the southwest of the city centre. In the foreground, the picture shows the Oder river with the former Nüscke & Co shipyard, the Grodzka Island, and the area of Jana z Kolna St and Wały Chrobrego with the buildings of the then City Museum, district and fiscal administration (today: National Museum, Provincial Office, Maritime University). In a deeper perspective, the author shows the Old Town, the castle, St.Jacob's church, and on the right, the buildings of Grabów, Żeromski Park. In the painting, Modrow emphasized the maritime and commercial nature of Szczecin, showing the movement of ships and barges on the Oder and the mooring of vessels at the quay of the shipyard and the port.

More information about the views of Szczecin in painting, including the works of Fritz Hans Modrow can be found at:
Ewa Gwiazdowska, Views of Szczecin. Iconographic Sources for the History of the City from the 16th Century to 1945, Szczecin 2001.

The exhibition of F. Modrow's paintings can be visited at the Lentz Villa from June 11th to November 30th, 2021, courtesy of the State Archives in Szczecin.
Exhibition of Fritz Johannes Modrow's paintings