Ben Uri collection


Artist information

Name Alva (1901-1973)

Other name Siegfried Solomon Alweiss

Born Berlin, Germany

Died London, England

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Siegfried Solomon Alweiss was born in Berlin and began a career in commerce after leaving school, then studied music before turning to art and adopting the shortened form of his name, 'Alva', in 1925. He travelled extensively in the Middle East, then following Hitler’s rise to power and increasingly anti-Semitic legislation, moved to Paris in 1933. He fled to London in 1938 and was briefly interned as an ‘enemy alien’ on the Isle of Man in 1940. After release, Alva exhibited extensively with Ben Uri, where he also gave a lecture in November 1948 on 'The Purpose of Painting', in which he claimed inspiration from Rembrandt and Daumier among others.

Object Details

Date 1938

Object type painting

Medium oil on canvas

Materials and techniques oil (medium) canvas (support)

Unframed 69.8 x 90 cm

Framed 76 x 97.2 cm

Signed signed, bottom left: Alva

Acquisition loan from Mr and Mrs M. Alweiss July 1996

Accession number 1996-8

Display status On display in 'Refugees: The Lives of Others' until 4 June 2017

When Alva painted this work he was experiencing his own exodus. Made in the year before the outbreak of the Second World War, this symbolic painting references both the ancient biblical account of the departure of the Israelites from Egypt and the artist’s own ‘forced journey’ from Germany.

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© Alva estate