Heritage plaque marks creative friendship
- Credit: John Weston
A pair of artistic and literary friends have been commemorated with a Heath and Hampstead Society plaque.
Artist Marie-Louise von Motesiczky and writer Elias Canetti were émigrés of Jewish heritage who fled to England.
Marie-Louise left Vienna when the Nazis annexed Austria in 1938, while Canetti, who had also grown up in Vienna, came to London from Prague the same year.
Despite Canetti's marriage, their relationship as friends, lovers and companions lasted from their wartime meeting for almost 30 years of mutual support. He encouraged her artistic career, while she gave the Nobel Prizewinner somewhere to keep his library and write - including his 1960 book Crowds and Power about the dynamics of the mob.
Marie-Louise, whose grandmother Anna von Lieben had been one of Sigmund Freud's early patients, arrived in the UK in 1939 with her mother Henriette. After living in Amersham and West Hampstead, they bought a house at 6 Chesterford Gardens in 1960 where Marie-Louise lived until her death in 1996.
Canetti's archive is held by the Central Library in Zurich where he died in 1994, and Marie-Louise's paintings and drawings are in collections from Burgh House and The Freud Museum, to the Tate and National Portrait Gallery, to which she donated her 1959 self-portrait - Canetti's favourite.
The Heath and Hampstead Society joined forces with the Marie-Louise von Motesiczky Trust to mark her Hampstead home as part of its black plaque scheme. Juliette Sonabend co-administers the scheme which now boasts 35 plaques to famous past residents including George Orwell and John Constable.
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She said the latest celebrates the vital role that Canetti and Marie-Louise played in each other's lives.
"Marie-Louise presented a portrait of Canetti that she painted to the National Portrait Gallery to express her thanks to Britain ‘for giving a home to my mother and me','" she said.
"It is almost impossible to express the lifelong gratitude felt by emigrants from Nazi persecution who had finally found home here in England.
"Hampstead was their place of safety and beauty, a place where they could express their talent and resume their artistic journeys.
"The Heath and Hampstead Society is proud to commemorate their contribution which has enriched our collective cultural lives."
For more about Marie-Louise Motesiczky go to www.motesiczky.org/biography/