Clara Ewald

Portrait Painter


Clara Ewald was born in Dusseldorf, Germany, in 1859. After the death of her husband, an art historian, in 1909, she moved with her son Peter (b.1888) to the village of Holzhausen, an artists’ colony on the Ammersee, a lake near Munich. It was there in 1911 that her best-known portrait, of the English poet Rupert Brooke – it now hangs in the National Portrait Gallery, London – was painted. Brooke was at the time on a European tour and had made the acquaintance of Peter Ewald, then a student at Munich University; the broad-brimmed hat that is such a feature of the picture actually belonged to Peter. The Ewald dwelling in Holzhausen still exists, largely unaltered.

In October 1938 the Ewalds emigrated to Cambridge, where Peter had obtained a post in the university. Clara’s best-known portrait from Cambridge days is of Paul Dirak, the discoverer of anti-matter (Nobel Prize for Physics, 1933). Peter later took up a position at Queen’s University, Belfast, and Clara moved to Belfast with him. She died, at 55 Rugby Road, on 15th January 1948.

Location of plaque: 37 Rugby Road, Belfast

Date of Unveiling: 2 June 2001