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ID number:  BIRRC-A1088
Institution:  Research and Cultural Collections
Named collection:  Campus Collection of Fine and Decorative Art
Artist / Maker:  Schwarz, Hans
Title / Object name:  Portrait of Rosa Luxembourg
Object type:  Painting
Materials:  Acrylic on board
Measurements:  52 x 67 cm
BIRRC-A1088.jpg

Rosa Luxemburg was a Marxist theorist, philosopher, economist and revolutionary socialist. Born in 1871 in Poland of Jewish descent, she fled to Germany in 1889 when her revolutionary agitation made it dangerous to remain in Poland and she eventually became a naturalised German citizen.
She was a founding member of the underground Spartacus League, which demonstrated against German involvement in the First World War and especially the support given by the Social Democrat Party, an organisation she belonged to. As part of a group of radicals who had belonged to the Spartacus League, she helped establish the German Communist Party in December 1918.
The immediate post-war years, before the establishment of the Weimar Republic, were a dangerous time in Berlin. Violent paramilitary groups like the Freikorps were employed to put down the left-wing uprisings that erupted in major cities across Germany. These uprisings were collectively known as the German Revolution and Luxemburg was a major figure within the movement. She was killed in police custody in January 1919.
The photograph on which this is based shows a softer, more open side of Luxemburg than many of her portrait photographs of the same period. Schwarz seems to have been particularly drawn to this revolutionary figure who became a romanticized symbol of Communist revolt.

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