A Life In the Studio: Jane Margaret Mumbrauer

Robert C. Mumbrauer’s granddaughter, Jane Margaret Mumbrauer (1919-2010), grew up in Hermann and went to work in the Mumbrauer Studio after her father Charles G. Mumbrauer’s death in 1935.

Charles G. Mumbrauer’s  widow Amanda and two of their children stayed on.  “Janet [Bremer Mumbrauer] told me,” says Andrew Hahn, “that in the 1930s Amanda, Jane and Charles lived above the studio on Schiller.” Jane continued to work in the studio downstairs until the family sold the business in 1944.

Portrait of Jane Mumbrauer, ca. 1932, courtesy of Andrew Hahn.

Portrait of Jane Mumbrauer, ca. 1932, probably taken by Amanda Schuermann Mumbrauer; courtesy of Andrew Hahn.

Building on her early experience, Jane developed into a master retoucher and finisher, and enjoyed a long career in studio photography.

Between 1944 and 1951, she worked for the Jules Pierlow Studio in St. Louis. She then moved east to be near her mother, Amanda Schuermann Mumbrauer, and sister, Ruby Mumbrauer Hasenritter.

“By late 1952, she began a 32-year career with Wilmington, Delaware’s most prominent photographer, Willard Stewart, as his assistant, creative retoucher, and heavy-oil portrait artist. Mr. Stewart held the degree of Master of Photography awarded by the Professional Photographers Association of America, bestowed on the basis of technique and craftsmanship, significantly enhanced by the manipulation of the final product by the artistic use of creative retouching, including redrawing of facial features and expressions on the original negatives by Jane’s hand (in the years before digital editing). Those ‘Best of Lifetime’ photographs, exhibiting the joint perfection of photographer and finisher, are on permanent exhibition at the Photography Hall of Fame in Santa Barbara, Calif.” (obituary, paper unknown, courtesy of Andrew W. Hahn)

Jane Mumbrauer died in Howard County, Maryland, and is buried in Hermann City Cemetery, Hermann, Mo. Willard Stewart’s trove of 10,000 negatives, many of them retouched by Jane, was entrusted to Wilmington, Delaware photo finisher Jim Donahue of Donahue Color Service. James L. Donahue died in 2013, but it appears that the business continues.

Stewart also photographed hundreds of buildings for the WPA and the Historic American Buildings Survey, and these are preserved at the University of Delaware.

Note: The Photography Hall of Fame is now the International Photography Hall of Fame in St. Louis, Missouri. I am grateful to Andrew W. Hahn for generously sharing family photographs and memories.

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Published in: on September 28, 2013 at 6:12 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Woman Behind the Camera: Amanda Schuermann Mumbrauer

Recently I was excited to receive a communication from a relation of the Mumbrauer family with new information about how the Mumbrauer Studio operated after Charles George Mumbrauer married.

According to Andrew Hahn, it was Charles’s wife, Amanda Schuermann Mumbrauer (1886-1960), who ran things.

Portrait of Amanda Schuermann Mumbrauer, circa 1920, courtesy of Andrew Hahn.

Hand-tinted portrait of Amanda Schuermann Mumbrauer, circa 1920, courtesy of Andrew Hahn.

“She really took all the photos in the later years of the studio. Charles had a job in St. Louis and was only occasionally in Hermann in his last years,” Hahn says. “My grandmother told me he had many ‘girlfriends’ in St. Louis and that Amanda ran the Hermann photo studio, took and printed all the photos.”

Portrait of Charles George Mumbrauer, ca. 1925, courtesy of Andrew Hahn

Portrait of Charles George Mumbrauer, ca. 1925, courtesy of Andrew Hahn

“My grandmother told me that the camera she used was large ‘with a lens that grandfather Mumbrauer had used 50 years earlier.’ “She described Amanda as using a black cloak like in the cartoons to cover herself and the camera when she took pictures.”

Hand-colored portrait of Janet Bremer and Charles Emery Mumbrauer, ca. 1932, courtesy of Andrew Hahn.

Andrew’s grandmother, Janet Bremer, married Charles Emery Mumbrauer, son of Charles and Amanda. Andy has begun sharing some of the many photos he inherited from an album assembled by Janet Bremer Mumbrauer in 1937. (Emery and Janet divorced in 1938.)

“I have always thought these photos,” Hahn recalls, “have a special glow about them.”

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Portrait of Emery’s first wife and daughter, Jane Bremer Mumbrauer and Nancy Mumbrauer, taken by Amanda Schuermann Mumbrauer, courtesy of Andrew Hahn.

Andrew W. Hahn is Executive Director of the Campbell House Museum in St. Louis, Missouri. He was previously curator of the corporate art collection of A.G. Edwards and Sons, a St. Louis brokerage firm, whose collection has since been absorbed into the Wells Fargo collection.

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