Elsa Fraenkel was born Elsa Rothschild into a prosperous Jewish family in Bensheim, Germany on 25 August 1892 and trained at the Karlsruhe Academy. In 1918 she married and moved to Hanover, where she was a member of Kurt Schwitters’ cultural circle in the 1920s (their friendship was later rekindled in exile in England). She remained in Hanover until 1933, travelling annually to Paris. She specialised in portrait sculpture, and although uncommissioned, her works were exhibited in Hanover, Berlin, Brunswick and Mannheim. Following her divorce in 1933, she returned to Paris, before immigrating to London, bringing many of her sculptures with her and later establishing a studio in St John’s Wood. During the war, her son worked in a factory that produced the Mosquito Fighter Bomber and she suffered difficulties after her identity was stolen by a German spy. Postwar, she exhibited in Ben Uri’s 1951 Festival of Britain Anglo-Jewish Exhibition, but later moved to Bangalore, India, to be with her daughter and family, and died there on 13 June 1975. 






  • Central School of Art and Design (student)
  • Essex Art Club (vice-president)
  • GEDOK (Gemeinschaft der Künstlerinnen und Kunstfördernden) (member, Hanover)
  • Heidelberg University (student)
  • Karlsruhe Academy (student)
  • Morley College (staff member)
  • Royal Society of Arts (Fellow)
  • The Royal Society for India, Pakistan and Ceylon (council member)



  • Society of Friends of Young Art, Schlossmuseum Braunschweig (2019–2020)
  • Art-Exit: 1939 – A Very Different Europe, Ben Uri Gallery and Museum, London (2019)
  • Highlights of the Ben Uri Collection: 2002 Onwards, Ben Uri Gallery and Museum, London (2018)
  • German Refugee Artists to Britain since 1900, Ben Uri Gallery and Museum, London (2017)
  • Kunst der Avantgarde in Hanover 1912–1933, Sprengel Museum, Hanover (2017)
  • Refugees: The Lives of Others – Selected Works by Eva Frankfurther (1930–1959), Ben Uri Gallery, London (2017)
  • Essex Art Club Annual Exhibition (1965)
  • Society of Portrait Sculptors Exhibition, London (1964)
  • The Arts Unite East And West
  • An Exhibition of Work by Past and Present Members of the Royal India Ceylon and Pakistan Society, Foyles Gallery (c. 1962)
  • Selection from the Permanent Collection, Ben Uri Art Gallery (1960)
  • Essex Art Club Exhibition, Royal Exchange, London (1957)
  • Contemporary Jewish Artists Exhibition, Zion House, Hampstead, London (1956)
  • Fortieth Anniversary Exhibition, Ben Uri Art Gallery (1956)
  • Sculptures and Original Drawings by Elsa Fraenkel, Chitrasala, New Delhi (1952)
  • Anglo-Jewish Exhibition 1851–1951 Art Section, Ben Uri Society, London (1951)
  • Contemporary Jewish Artists, Exhibition of Paintings Sculptures Drawings, Ben Uri Society (1950)
  • Modern Masters and Artists of Today, 20 Brook Street (1948)
  • Painting by Walter Trier and Sculpture by Else Fraenkel and Erna Nonnenmacher, Ben Uri Art Gallery, London (1947)
  • Royal Academy Summer exhibition (1943, 1942, 1941, 1940)
  • Sculpture and Drawings, British Art Center, Stafford Gallery, London (1940)
  • Leicester Galleries, London (1938–1939)
  • Coronation Exhibition, Leicester Galleries, London (1937)
  • 36th Exhibition of the Women's International Art Club, London (1937)
  • Annual Exhibition of Works by Jewish Artists, Ben Uri Jewish Art Gallery (1936)
  • Royal Academy Summer exhibition (1936)
  • Sculpture by Else Fraenkel, Leicester Galleries, London (1935)
  • Elsa Fraenkel, Kunsthandlung Victor Hartberg, Berlin (1932)
  • Gesellschaft der Freunde Junger Kunst, Braunschweig (1932)
  • Junge Künstler, Galerie Albert Flechteim, Berlin (1932)
  • GEDOK, Bremen (1931)