An Exhibition held in the Voltaire Room, Taylor Institution Library, Oxford University, 28 April 2023 to 12 May 2023.
This small exhibition marks the publication of Charles Webster, In Times of Strife, Treasures of the Taylorian Series Three: Cultural Memory 5. It brings together holdings of the Taylor Institution Library and of Charles Webster’s personal collection which reflect the development of his interest in German Expressionism as a form of artistic answer to the social questions of the 20th century.
Display Case 1: The Genesis of the Book
The introductory case shows how Charles Webster’s interest in the Hartlib papers developed during his time as a science school teacher in Sheffield when he was encouraged by George Henry Turnbull (1889–1961), then Professor of Education at Sheffield University. Turnbull was severely wounded during World War I, after which he became a lecturer at Liverpool University, then Professor of Education at Sheffield University, retiring to Prestatyn in 1954. He wrote widely on German educational theorists, but is best-known for his work on Samuel Hartlib. He produced the first scholarly work on Samuel Hartlib, a short monograph dating from 1920. This is well-documented, but inaccessible to the general reader . His great work is Hartlib, Dury and Comenius, Gleanings from Hartlib’s Papers  which is a highly reliable digest of the Hartlib Papers as they relate to John Dury and Jan Amos Comenius. Turnbull’s commentary displays remarkable acumen. Turnbull’s other writings in this field also retain their importance.
- G. H. Turnbull, Samuel Hartlib: a sketch of his life and his relations to J. A. Comenius (London: Oxford University Press, 1920).
- G. H. Turnbull, Hartlib, Dury and Comenius, Gleanings from Hartlib’s Papers (Liverpool University Press, 1947), personal, annotated copy of the author.
Charles Webster (1936- ) was a science school teacher in Sheffield from 1959. In seeking betterment he developed an interest in Hartlib and was encouraged by Professors Turnbull and Armytage (Turnbull’s successor in Sheffield), the latter of whom he assisted with the return of the Hartlib Papers to Sheffield. As time permitted, he studied these in the rooms of Professor Armytage, and then in the new University Library. His first two books reliant on the Hartlib Papers were completed in Oxford, Samuel Hartlib and the Advancement of Learning (1970)  and The Great Instauration (1975) . The first two chapters of In Times of Strife aim to further advance our understanding in the field of Hartlib studies.
- Charles Webster, Samuel Hartlib and the Advancement of Learning (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1970).
- Charles Webster, The Great Instauration. Science, Medicine and Reform 1626–1660 (London: Duckworth, 1975).
The vignette on the dust cover shows Comenius’ motto Omnia sponte fluant absit violentia rebus (“Everything may flow spontaneously, violence be absent from the matter”).
The same motif is on the Comenius Medal in display case 2, awarded to Charles Webster in 1976 for services to Comenius scholarship, Czechoslovakia Republic, 1976. The reverse displays the motto and image of universal harmony that was associated with the publications of Comenius during the 1650s.
The case also contains documentation associated with the exile of Salo Pratzer (1913-1983) and Robert Pratzer (1916-1945) [5/6] respectively the uncle and father of the author of In Times of Strife, specifically relating to their time in Belgium 1938-1940, plus artwork  featured as title-image by Charlotte (Lotka) Burešová (1904–1983) who in 1942 was deported to Theresienstadt, worked in the Sonderwerkstätte there and escaped three days before the liberation.
- Salo Pratzer’s grant of an entrance permit 1938, Archives générales du Royaume-Section 5 ‘Archives contemporaines’, A309586. 025.
- Robert Pratzer’s grant of an entrance permit. 026.
- Charlotte Burešová: Deportation. Marker and charcoal (after World War II), Ghetto Fighter Museum No. 1006 (see title image).
Display Case 2: Comenius and European Learning
The second case focuses on works by Jan Amos Comenius. The Taylorian owns three copies of the Janua linguarum reserata (“the door of languages unlocked”), one of them , an interleafed, Latin-only edition being a unicum. The others are multilingual:  Latin, French, Spanish, Italian, German, and  English and Latin.
- Jan Amos Comenius, Janua linguarum reserata autrea: sive seminarium linguarum et scientiarum omnium (Hanau: Jacob Lasché, before 1662). Taylor Institution Library VET.MISC.I.A.1
- Jan Amos Comenius, Janua linguarum reserata quinque-linguis, sive, Compendiosa methodus Latinam, Gallicam, Italicam, Hispanicam, & Germanicam linguam perdiscendi (Amsterdam: Ludwig Elsevier, 1661). Taylor Institution Library Fiedler.H.70
- Jan Amos Comenius, Janua linguarum reserata: sive, Omnium scientiarum & linguarum seminarium…. The gate of languages unlocked: or, seed-plot of all Arts and Tongues; containing a ready way to learn the Latine and English Tongue. Translated by Tho. Horn, corrected by Joh. Robotham, carefully reviewed by G.P. (London: Printed by James Young, for Thomas Slater, sold at the sign of the Angel in Duck-lane, 1647). Taylor Institution Library 2.E.36
Comenius’ Didactica Magna was sent by him from Leszno, Poland to Hartlib in London in late 1634 or early 1635. The draft in the Hartlib papers  is the earliest known version. A revised version of this text was published by Comenius in 1657. To aid understanding, printed Latin and English language texts are given also provided. Didactica Magna lay dormant after its initial Latin publication in 1657, for reasons fully discussed in Chapter 1. The first German edition dates from 1872. This was followed by a more authoritative edition in 1876 , undertaken by Gustav Adolf Lindner (1828–1887), an interesting figure with strong democratic, anticlerical and egalitarian views. In 1879 he founded the first Czech pedagogical journal Paedagogium. This effort to generate interest in Comenius is an important milestone in his career. The first Czech translation dates from 1883, and the English from 1898.
- Didactica Magna, Title page from manuscript copy of this work, Sheffield University Library, Hartlib Papers 35/6/1A.
- Jan Amos Comenius, Große Unterrichtslehre mit einer Einleitung: J. Comenius, sein Leben und Wirken. Einleitung, Übersetzung und Commentar von Dr. Gustav Adolf Lindner (Vienna and Leipzig: Verlag von A. Pichler’s Witwe, 1876).
- Comenius Medal, awarded to Charles Webster for services to Comenius scholarship, Czechoslovakia Republic, 1976. Reverse: displays the motto and image of universal harmony that was associated with the publications of Comenius during the 1650s and is also used in similar form for the dustcover of ‘The Great Instauration’ (Case 1.4).
Display Case 3: German Expressionism & World War 1
Kriegszeit – Künstlerflugblätter was a German artists’ magazine founded in 1914 in Berlin by the art dealer and publisher Paul Cassirer in collaboration with Alfred Gold. This series published original lithographs by German artists, some of whom were members of the Berlin Secession and were closely aligned with German Expressionism. At first the tone of Kriegszeit was predominantly militaristic and chauvinistic. However, this was gradually overtaken by disillusionment, which was reflected in changed topics selected by its artists. Instead of ultra-patriotic storming soldiers in battle scenes, there appeared escapist pictorial works, often with distinctly critical undertones. The progressivist artists generally drifted into stealthy pacifism, but quite quickly this hardened into more intense non-conformity. Naturally, the fortunes of Kriegszeit were affected by this change of mood.
The title-page for the first issue of Kriegszeit on 31 August 1914 was contributed by Max Liebermann, showing a demonstration of popular support for the Kaiser’s war. Liebermann was the most influential artist in Berlin and patron of Käthe Kollwitz and Jakob Steinhardt. By the date of his death in 1935, he had been ousted from all of his offices of authority. Käthe Kollwitz never supported the 1914-1918 war and contributed only once to Kriegszeit, a large lithograph showing a woman, only her head, neck and hands clearly visible. Ernst Barlach contributed two lithographs. The title ‘Das Bangen’ translating roughly as ‘Trepidation / Anguish / Fearful apprehension’.
- Folder for the loose sheet collection of Kriegszeit.
- Käthe Kollwitz, ‘Das Bangen’, Lithograph, Kriegszeit No. 10, 28 October 1914.
- Ernst Barlach, ‘Und wenn die Welt voll Teufel wär!’, Lithograph, Kriegszeit No. 46, 1 July 1915. In the foreground Martin Luther, who is stoically resisting the temptations of the devil, who is claiming to possess the secret of dealing with the chaos shown in the background, where an innocent person is being attacked by a violent mob. The caption is from Luther’s hymn ‘Ein feste Burg’.
- Ernst Barlach, ‘Evakuierung’, Lithograph, Kriegszeit No. 50, 5 August 1915. The Impact of War on innocent civilians. A crowd of civilians desperately flee for their lives. Notice, in the main group, the young child carries a baby, the husband seems to be carrying a pig, while the wife bears the burden of their meagre possessions. This image relates closely to depictions of flight and deportation by other artists featuring in this exhibition and in In Times of Strife, including Barlach’s own Die Vertriebenen, Laur Werkverzeichnis I, No.57 (Times of Strife, Frontispiece).
Kriegszeit was initially published weekly but, indicating falling demand, in mid-1915, Cassirer fell back to a two-week publication rhythm, and soon this failed, with the final months of its existence witnessing only irregular appearance. In the last issue – March 1916 – Kriegszeit reflected the growing war weariness. A month later Cassirer introduced a new magazine Der Bildermann, which from the outset was anti-authoritarian and pacifistic.
- Ernst Barlach, ‘Anno Domini MCMXVI post Christum natum’, Der Bildermann No. 14, 20 October 1916. A desperate citizen demonstrates to Christ that the only achievement of war is death. In the background a mass of crosses memorialise the war dead and among these, prominently the three crosses of Golgotha. In the short life of Der Bildermann, between April and December 1916, Barlach contributed eight powerful anti-war images. These contributions extended from the first to the last issues of this publication
The German Expressionist artists were influenced in their visual language by the woodcut aesthetics of the Reformation pamphlets, especially the anti-papal polemics; the Taylorian owns a good selection of these ephemeral publications which are successively edited in the Reformation Pamphlets series.
- Andreas Osiander and Hans Sachs, Eyn wunderliche Weyssagung / von dem Babstumb / wie es yhm biß an das endt der welt gehen sol / in figuren oder gemaͤl begriffen / gefunden zu Nuͤrmberg / ym Cartheuser Closter / vnd ist seher alt. (Nuremberg: Hans Guldenmund, 1527). Taylor Institution Library Arch. 8° G.1527(8)
- [Johann Schwertfeger and Hans Cranach], Passional Christi und Antichristi ([Erfurt]: [Matthäus Maler], ). Taylor Institution Library Arch. 8° G.1521(19)
Display Case 4: Jakob Steinhardt’s Radierungen
In the early part of his career, as with some other fellow German Expressionists, Steinhardt’s favourite medium was the drypoint. This technique facilitates a velvety and delicate impression suitable for both loose sketching and bold highlighting at key points of the image. Drypoint has the limitation that it is suitable to for only small editions, perhaps 20 at a limit. The set here includes prints dating from 1918–1921. The folio was issued in 1922; possibly only two of these sets have survived. The Radierungen provide insight into the life among the Jewish poor of the Lithuanian shtetl (see Chapter 3).
- Gasse in Zerkow captures the spirit of the small settlement in which Steinhardt grew up.
- Beerdigung / Begräbnis shows a small group of bedraggled villagers following a burial cart drawn by a mangy horse.
- Die Seuche is exceptional in relating to a more urban and Christian settlement gripped by an epidemic. In this horrifying scene Steinhardt leaves nothing to the imagination.
- Familie am Tisch / Judenfamilie is a discomforting glance at a poor family seated at their miserable table. The figures are lightly sketched in but the facial expressions are detailed and poignant.
- Unterhaltung / Häusliche Szene is a night scene, where two old men are arguing while a third, younger man, is trying, with difficulty, to conduct his studies.
Display Case 5: Expressionist Illustration
Some of the most powerful statements on social engagement by Expressionist artists were commissions for book illustration. Ernst Barlach produced his first woodcuts as illustrations to a poem in free verse by Reinhold von Walter Der Kopf, with the very first ‘Lahmer, Blinder und bettelnde Alte’ for p. 9 . Barlach himself was as prolific an author as he was a visual artist, and his autobiography features a front-cover lithograph  derived from his image of Martin Luther in Kriegszeit displayed in case 3. The 73 pages of text are characteristically idiosyncratic and to some extent are a vehicle for some hundred illustrations, including four self-portraits, reproduction of drawings and lithographs, many of these deriving from his Ukrainian sketchbooks.
Included is also Barlach’s last Ukraine-inspired sculpture, and the final work that, in March 1937, he ever exhibited. After a few days Frierende Alte  was confiscated and added to the long list of Barlach’s degenerate art.
- Reinhold von Walther, Der Kopf. Ein Gedicht (Berlin: Paul Cassirer Verlag, 1919) (see image on the right).
- Ernst Barlach, Ein selbsterzähltes Leben (Berlin: Paul Cassirer Verlag, 1928). First edition, with front-cover lithograph derived from his image of Martin Luther in Kriegszeit, also featuring in this exhibition. The 73 pages of text are characteristically idiosyncratic and to some extent a vehicle for some hundred illustrations, including four self-portraits, reproduction of drawings and lithographs, many of these deriving from his Ukrainian sketchbooks.
- Ernst Barlach, Frierende Alte, brown-tinted gypsum, 1937, Laur Werkverzeichnis II, 607. This is two-third-sized copy of Ernst Barlach gypsum figure, the original of which survives at the Barlach Museum, Güstrow.
As seen in Case 4, Jakob Steinhardt drew on his impressions from Eastern Europe. By contrast the illustration exhibited here, ‘Gasse in der Altstadt’, features a quiet lane in the Old City. It was the largest and most impressive of a series of woodcuts produced by Steinhardt in 1934/5, shortly after his arrival in Palestine, to illustrate eleven poems by Shin Shalom’s Jerusalem Slumbering Town which was published in Hebrew, with translations into other languages as separate booklet. In the course of time this first of eleven images became Steinhardt’s best-known work , eventually, in 1971, being selected for a postage stamp .
- Shin Shalom, Jerusalem Slumbering Town (Tel Aviv: Loewenstein, 1937).
- First-day cover of a postage stamp issued in 1971, featuring Jakob Steinhardt’s ‘Gasse in der Altstadt’.
Of Käthe Kollwitz’ many statements of anti-war feeling, the most famous is her lithograph, the largest she ever produced, known as Nie wieder Krieg which started life as an untitled image in early August 1924 which survives as a single copy, originally in the possession Salman Schocken, the Jewish Berlin publisher and art patron , now in Oxford. The best-known version of this print was prepared for a youth gathering held in Leipzig in August 1924 . This poster was widely adopted by the peace movement and is still commonly available in many sizes, ranging from the massive original down to lapel pins. The final item of the exhibition  is the little catalogue of the first exhibition mounted after her death as collaboration between the Tel Aviv Museum and the National Bezalel Museum of Jerusalem. The short introduction by Karl Schwarz highlighted the artist’s despair over war, and her dedication to mutual understanding. Item 111 in the catalogue was Nie wieder Krieg in the impression belonging to Salman Schocken, from whose collection much of the exhibition was derived.
- Photograph of the lithograph in Salman Schocken’s living room.
- Poster Nie wieder Krieg published by the Rote Turm Verlag, Leipzig.
- Käthe Kollwitz (1867–1944 [!]), Memorial Exhibition 1945.