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Ernest Marcuse (1900-85)

Early Life

Ernst Heinrich (anglicised Ernest Henry) Marcuse was born 1 December 1900 in Germany.

Ernest’s formal art training commenced in 1918 with a three-year course at the Berlin School of Interior Design. 


After completion, he found work until Germany’s 1924 Depression took effect. Then to broaden career opportunities, Ernest undertook further 12 months study of Fashion Drawing & Advertising at Berlin’s Reiman School of Art.

From approx. 1925-34, Ernest was primarily a Freelance Press Artist specialising in industrial, architectural and figure drawing. Prominent and still existing “Berliner Morgenpost” was his largest client along with “Grosse Deutsche Rundfunaustellung”, Germany’s organization for major trade shows.

Just two months after Hitler and the Nazi Party came to power in 1933, Ernest received a life changing letter stating that being Jewish he could no longer be employed in his country Germany. From then until 1938, other than private commissions, Ernest could only obtain ‘unofficial’ work as book illustrator or games designer. This by arrangement with Non-Jewish artists who claimed his work as their own but shared income with Ernest.

With increasing German unrest, in late 1938 Ernest made a transitional move to London where he married long-time girlfriend Lotte. Later in 1939 their 8-week voyage to Australia where they had been accepted as refugees.

The War Years

The Argus, The Sun and The Age were Melbourne’s morning newspapers at the time. After arrival 4 November, Ernest showed portfolio extracts to The Argus editor… who immediately employed him as War Events Illustrator. Ernest soon became their major war artist where he graphically illustrated fine detail of ships artillery and aircraft. Particularly admired, were his depictions of battles highlighting his unique ability to envisage such destruction from the air. Many of these drawings were as front pages of Argus Weekend Magazines.

In May 1940 as the war intensified, Ernest was dismissed from the Argus due to his then Australian government Classification... "STATELESS PERSON OF ENEMY ORIGIN"

Editor at the time Neville Smith said...'Don't blame us, blame Hitler' !


Ernest then commenced to establish himself as a Commercial Artist.


In early 1942, the Australian Army (AMF) heard of Ernest's artistic abilities...which they wished to utilize for the design of visual training aids and posters etc.

Conveniently he was first de classified as a 'Stateless Person of Enemy Origin'.


As Private EH Marcuse, Ernest until 1945 was variously posted to Bonegilla, Woodside SA and finally Melbourne.

Quotes by senior officers extolled his amazing value to the Army.

Much of Ernest's Army period creations are at Canberra's Australian War Museum, including "Troop train at night' for which he was awarded 2nd Prize in the 1945 exhibition "Australians at War". 


Commercial Artist/Graphic Designer

Generally working from home, between 1946 and 1969 Ernest concentrated on a career as a Commercial artist & Graphic Designer creating for numerous household names. 

Only a few still exist; CRA/Conzinc (Rio), Vacuum Oil (Caltex), Fulton Garden Supplies, Cottees (Schweppes & Heinz), International (Iveco) Trucks and EGO (Sunsence, Aqium, QV)



Retirement years

From 1970 Ernest concentrated on his artistic love of fine art. Apart from creating in-home city Melbourne, he prolifically sketched and painted in many parts of Australia and in other countries.

Ernest never drove a car. To some locations he walked or used public transport, others accessed with family assistance or artist friends who at the same time created their own interpretations.

Ernest died suddenly 1985 in Queenscliff Victoria whilst creating a painting.

Ernest's legacy continues

For almost 30 years after his death, much of Ernest Marcuse' enormous art collection remained in storage.

In 2013, son Peter commenced the daunting & time-consuming task of sorting a lifetime of artwork.  Next stage was to group, title and catalogue, also digitally and manually restore some creations previously inadequately conserved by Ernest. Finally, scanning & photography of 1700 + paintings and drawings to make Ernest's artwork more accessible to the general public.

Importantly, a selection of originals has over the past five years, been acquired for permanent collections by well-known galleries and museums.  


To assist in his legacy continuing. this website enables the purchase of ERNEST MARCUSE Australiana art prints

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