The Viennese artist Emil Ranzenhofer was born in Vienna, Austria on January 4, 1864. He was the fourth of eight children born to Heinrich and Regina (Wengraf) Ranzenhofer who were both from Nicolsburg. Emil is listed as a member of the II Klasse – Abtheilung A at the Wiener Oberrealschule in 1877. In the Spring Semester of 1880 he became a student at the Wien Akademie der Bildenden Kunste under Professor Christian Griepenkerl and Leopold Karl Müllers. He was a contemporary of Egon Schiele, Gustav Klimt and the Marquis von Bayros. Emil was a student at the Akademie full time until 1883 when he became a part-time student.
It was during that time that Emil registered with the Austrian Military. Emil’s first service in the military beginning in October of 1883 when he volunteered for one year of military service with the 11th company. Later, on March 26, 1884 when his name was drawn from the lottery ranking for 3 years in the lines, 7 years in the reserves, and 2 years in the militia in the 4th infantry Regimant. He enrolled on July 3, 1884.
He returned to being a full-time student in 1885 and 1886. On November 15, 1893, he married Anna Laura Chassel. A son, Heinrich (Heinz) was born to them on February 3, 1896 and a daughter, Renee, born July 5, 1900.
EARLY CAREER (Prior to WWI)
Little is known about his early art career. His earliest works included poster design, book illustrations, watercolors, oil paintings, and etchings, including ExLibris (bookplates). By the end of the year 1900, he had established himself as an innovator in the art of poster design and had a robust commercial career. He illustrated some twenty-seven books in the Kushners Bucherschatz series of novels.
Between 1900 and the start of WWI, his career flourished. Many examples of his posters, etchings, ExLibris, oil paintings, water colors, postcards, and illustrated books are dated from this period. Unfortunately, this was before the custom of numbering the etchings as they were printed, so it is uncertain how many were actually produced and sold. According to Fuchs in his Österreichischer Maler des 19. Jahrhunderdts, Emil Ranzenhofer was awarded a Silver Medal in 1914.
He was a member of the Österreichische Küstlerbund and the Alrbrecht Durer-Bund.
Emil Ranzehofer was an early innovator in the design of modernistic posters. Of the fifty-three known poster that he designed, the the Albertina in Vienna, Austria has at least 46 of his posters in their collection. One of the posters, made up of four pages, is on display in the Prater advertising an “American Scenic” ride. Others advertised fashions, shoe polish, cigarettes, theatre productions, etc.
Nine of thes posters have a WWI theme. All were commercial, but some were more directly connected to the Austro-Hungarian WWI War effort.
Emil Ranzenhofer was perhaps best known as an etcher. His subject matter was quite varied from Vienna city scenes (the Museum of the City Vienna has several of these etchings in their collection), interior of synagogues, buildings, portraits, street scenes in the Tyrol, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Montenegro, to flowers and country landscapes.
Although not known for his oil paintings, Emil Ranzenhofer did produce a number of them including a self-portrait. Many were landscapes of the rural areas around Vienna and seascapes (probably the Adriatic Sea). Several of his oil paintings show the spire of Vienna’s St. Stephen’s Cathedral in the distance.
Most of the postcards(over 50) designed by Emil Ranzenhofer depicted WWI scenes. They were published by either the Bruders Kohn (B.K.W.I.) or by the B.K.W.I. Offizielle Karte Fur: Rotes Kreuz, Kriegsfursorgeamt Kriegshilfsburo. At least eight of these postcards were in a series featuring the dog performing a variety of functions during WWI. This series was a set published by theZu Gunsten Des K.U.K. Kriegsfürsorgeamtes; K.F.A. Sanitätshunde.
A special series of eighteen cards were printed individually and in a Leporello format.
While the majority of postcards designed by Emil Ranzenhofer were of a WWI theme, he did design a number with other themes including a Happy New Year’s Card, a Woman Fishing and a series with four philosophers. In addition, he designed a number of cards with another artist, E.O. Braunthal. These include soccer and rowing scenes as well as a group of six postcards of Black Children. Emil probably designed the background scenery while Braunthal designed the figures for these postcards.
Emil Ranzenhofer illustrated Der Weltuntergang Eine Phantasie aus dem Jahr 1900 (Chiavacci, Vincenz), and Im dunkelsten Wien. ( Winter, Max) along with their book jackets. He also illustrated four books written by Richard Klement: Für Buben und Mädel, Für Morgen und Heute, Hört mir Zu!, and Plaudereien mit Geschichten und Gedichten. He also illustrated a book for Peter Bertl: Holzfällers Hans. Some twenty-seven books in the Kushners Bucherschatz series of novels were illustrated by Emil. The front cover of a pamphlet for Jung Oesterreichthe bears his illustration.
Sheet Music covers can also be found with his illustrations including: was also Wiener Schubert-Hauserby Ottokar Tann-Bergler,
Lise Maria Mayer's 3 Chinesische Gesänge and Meisters Gruss.
There are several examples of advertising artwork designed by Emil Ranzenhofer, other than posters. There are references to enameled metal signs for Metallum light bulbs and periodical advertisements for shaving supplies. He also designed a set of twelve poster stamps for the shoe maker Berson.
Thirty-four ExLibris are known to have been designed by Emil Ranzenhofer. His designs were of varying topics including historical sites in Vienna, bucolic scenes, and some of a rather risqué nature. Of some interest is a comparison of an etching of the Donner Brunnen at Neuer Market and an ExLibris with the name of Alfred Kaufmann. They are exactly the same, except that the ExLibris has the name imprinted on it.
Two ExLibris were probably named for his children: Heinz Ranzenhofer and Renee Ranzenhofer. There is only one ExLibris with a WWI theme. It is entitled “ExLibris Dankl’s”. There are two references to him in the Osterreichische ExLibris Gelsellschafte - the XIII Jarhbuch 1915 (p.66 Ada Adler) and the XIV Jahrbuch 1916 (p.69 Dankl). Another reference to Emil Ranzenhofer is in the 1902 Deutche ExLibris Gesellschafte Jahrbuch p.181.
ZIONISM AND THE JEWISH NATIONAL FUND
Although most of his works were secular, he did produce some works with a Jewish theme. These include etchings of a Rabbi and of the Turnergasse 22 Synagogue (dated 1902) which is archived in the Austrian National Library. In her book, Synagogues of Europe, Herselle Krinsky has included an oil painting print of the Vienna Tempelgasse Interior Ark (dated 1904) attributed to Emil Ranzenhofer. Chapter 5 in the third volume of the series German-Jewish History in Modern Times: Integration in Dispute written by Steven Lowenstein includes an image entitled “A meeting of the Jewish community leadership of Vienna chaired by its president, Heinrich Klinger. Watercolor by Emil Ranzenhofer, 1902”.
Emil Ranzenhofer desiged many of the early fund raising certificates used by the Jewish National Fund. The June 23, 1911 issue of the Die Welt wrote: “The Jewish Artist Emil Ranzenhofer in Vienna, whom we have to thank for the sketches of the Golden Book, the golden Book Certificate, the Olive Tree Certificate and the Telegram, has produced a new piece of artwork under the guidance of our esteemed John Kremenezky, in the form of a Certificate of Land Donation that has already met with much applause and should lead to the popularization of this donation everywhere.”
He designed the “Ranzenhofer Type” Jewish National Fund Greeting Telegram that was used in fundraising. The difference between the cost of sending a telegram and mailing a letter would be the donation to the JNF. The earliest telegram of this type was used in 1908. The extent of Emil Ranzenhofer’s involvement in the Zionist Movement is unclear. However, he did design the official postcard for the Sixth Zionist Congress that was held in Basel, Switzerland in 1903. He also designed a second unofficial postcard that was also used during this same time.
From 1902 until his death, Emil was an active Mason. He was initiated as a freemason on Feb. 2, 1902 at lodge "Humanitas" (member no.692). In 1905 he served as deputy almoner and in 1906 as treasurer. In December 1930, the club organized an Art Exhibition “in honor of Bro. Emil Ranzenhofer who had died recently”. The principal works remaining unsold after the close of the exhibition were to form the foundation for a Masonic Museum of the Grand Lodge of Vienna.”
WORLD WAR I
Emil Ranzenhofer was a patriotic Austrian and on September 18, 1915, he volutneered for the K.u.K. Kriegspressequartier Kunst Gruppe. His military records, consisting of more than 35 pages of handwritten documentation, are in the Kriegsarchiv in Vienna. These documents have been translated and yield more specific information about his work during the war.
Most of his artwork dated from 1914 to1918 deals with WWI. His etchings, pencil sketches, charcoals, watercolors, postcards, (designed for the K.u.K. Kriegsfursorgeamtes and the Rotes Kruz series and published by B.K.W.I), posters, and “ExLibris Dankl’s” all depict war scenes. Many of these eighty-five original sketches contain hand written notations German script. Scenes depicted are of Serbia, Croatia, Herzegovina, Sarajevo, and the Tyrol. Often his works were used to promote the war effort.
In his obituary published in the Neues Wiener Tagblatt; October 14, 1930; it states that he was almost full time at the front during the war.
According to family letters, Emil Ranzenhofer had difficulty selling his artwork in a postwar Vienna and became quite depressed. In addition to the hard times following the defeat and breakup of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, tastes in art changed. As the modern art movement of the Vienna Secession (Egon Schiele and Gustav Klimpt) became ever more popular, Emil Ranzenhofer’s more traditionalist style was not in demand. However, there is a fair amount of artwork dated during these last ten years of his life. They include oil paintings, etchings, watercolors, bookplates (ExLibris), postcards, and illustrations for children’s
In 1927 he lived at Vienna XX, Perinetgasse 1 and his studio was at Vienna IX, Alserstrasse 41 in Vienna.
PSUEDONYMS: EMIL SARTORI AND EMIL RANTZI
For some of his more erotic works of art, Emil Ranzenhofer used aliases. In collaboration with the Marquis von Bayros he used the name Emil Sartori for some sixteen illustrations in the Die Bonbonniere – Galante und artige Sammulung erotischer Phantasien.
Emil Rantzi was the alias he used for about thirteen illustrations in Volumes 2, 4, 5, and 6 in Das Buch der Tausend Nachte und der einen Nacht.
DEATH AND BURIAL
Emil Ranzehofer died on October 9, 1930 at the General Hospital in Vienna. He was cremated (according to the custom of the time) and interred at the Friedhöfe Wien GmbH - Feuerhalle Simmering Cemetery in Abteilung 3; Ring1; Gruppe 2; Number 101. His name does not appear on the headstone nor in any registry because, if there is no family contact after 30 years , the remains (in this case the urn) is buried deeper and the plot is reused. His obituary was published in the Neues Wiener Tagblatt; October 14, 1930; Nr. 284, p.9 and in the Neue Freie Press,October 16. 1930, Nr. 23741, p. 7.
His son, Heinrich, died childless in the Spanish Civil War. His daughter Renee married Dr. Oscar Kanner and emigrated to the United States in the early 1930’s. Because of conditions in Europe, Emil’s widow Anna (nee Chassel) emigrated to the United States in 1937 to live with their daughter Renee, Oscar, and grandson John M. Kanner. Anna died in 1960. Daughter Renee died in 1961 and son-in-law Oscar died in 1965. Grandson John M. Kanner died in 2001. Emil Ranzenhofer’s remaining direct descendents include a great-grandson Jack Kanner and great-great grandsons Matthew and Justin Kanner.
According to the Historisches Lexicon Wien, a street, Ranzenhofergasse, in the suburbs of Vienna (13 th district) was named after Emil Ranzenhofer in 1931. (Because he was Jewish, the name was changed in 1938 to Husinggasse. It was changed back to Ranzenhofergasse after the war in 1947.)