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