Ernest Marcuse Exhibition


We are thrilled to launch our latest exhibition, featuring the works of renowned German artist Ernest Marcuse, who first came to the North East in the 1940's and was taken by it's beauty.

Marcuse died in 1985 and since 2014, his son Peter Marcuse has been management his estate. In 2020, Peter contacted the Burke Museum about the artworks in his late father’s collection pertaining to Indigo Shire. 

These works comprise of drawings of various sizes, media (pencil, pen and ink, pastel, gouache), complexities, compositions, and interest. 

With the support of Peter and the Australian Government Cultural Gifts Program, the Burke Museum was able to obtain these twenty-five drawings and then in June 2022, was able to frame them with a grant from the Culture, Heritage and Arts Regional Tourism (CHART) program. 

These drawings will be on display in the main hall of the Burke Museum from July 2022 for a period of 12-months. This collection can also be viewed on Victorian Collections website.

Marcuse's story

Born and educated in Germany, Ernest Marcuse emigrated to Australia in 1939, part of the Jewish displacement that fled the rise of Nazism in Europe.

Educated as an artist in Berlin’s top art and designs schools, he quickly found work with The Argus Newspaper in Melbourne as a war events illustrator. These illustrations included cross sections of military weapons, vehicles, and battlefields to help explain war technology to readers. 

However, by May 1940 Marcuse was dismissed from The Argus as the Australian Government begun to brand any residents born in nations then at war with the Allies as 'stateless persons of enemy origin.' This meant that citizenship rights were removed and restrictions were imposed which limited employment, travel, ownership of property, cars and radios, and use of languages other than English. 

Upon gaining his citizenship back in 1942, he was quickly employed by The Australian Army as Private E.H Marcuse V377746 to continue illustrating military visuals as training aids and posters. 

Marcuse was first posted at the infantry officer's training school in Bonegilla as a staff artist where he was inspired by the region’s beauty. Up until 1982, Marcuse would often return to this area to create drawings and painting in locations including Bright, Wandilligong, Bogong High plains and Wallace's Hut, Mt Buffalo, Beechworth, Pretty valley, Kiewa Hydro, Yackandandah and Bontherambo homestead.

These illustrations were often completed on location and with his preferred choice of medium, pencil and ink.

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