01 March 2014

Becker & Maass

Becker & Maass was a German studio for portrait and fashion photography in the first decades of the 20th Century. They portrayed dozens of German film stars for magazines and postcards.

Mia May
Mia May. German postcard by Ross Verlag, Berlin, no. 259/3, 1919-1921. Sent by mail in Germany in 1921. Photo: Becker & Maass / May Film.

Bruno Kastner
Bruno Kastner. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 346/1, 1919-1924. Photo: Becker & Maass / RF.

Asta Nielsen
Asta Nielsen. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 470/2, 1919-1924. Photo: Becker & Maass, Berlin.

Eva May
Eva May. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 269/1, 1919-1924 (Film Sterne Film Scene Card). Photo: Becker & Maass Phot.

A Series of Holland

Little is known about the Berlin company Becker & Maaß (or Maass), which made so many film star portraits in the late 1910s and early 1920s.

During the late 1870s, Otto Becker had a studio located at Leipziger Strasse 94 in Berlin. Heinrich Maass name appears in conjunction on cartes de visite dated in the 1890s.

They founded Becker & Maaß in Berlin in 1902. The studio made a beautiful picture of Geisha girls in Berlin, and they travelled to Holland for a series of photographs. Pictures of a sailors family from the island Marken, farm houses, boys on wooden clogs and girls in traditional clothes were published in magazines like Praktische Berlinerin in 1907-1910.

They also did landscapes and portraits. Among the celebrities they portrayed were publisher Ernst Rowohlt, author Gerhardt Hauptmann, Russian dancer Anna Pavlova, Dutch playwright Herman Heijermans and stage actor Alexander Moissi.

Paul Wegener
Paul Wegener. German postcard by Verlag Hermann Leiser, Berlin, no. 1233. Photo: Becker & Maass, Berlin. Publicity still for the play Der Arzt am Scheideweg (The Doctor's Dilemma) by George Bernhard Shaw.

Maria Carmi in Das Mirakel
Maria Carmi in Das Mirakel. German postcard by Verleih Hermann Leiser, Berlin-Wilmersdorf, no. 8594. Photo: Becker & Maass.

Bruno Decarli
Bruno Decarli. German postcard by Verlag Hermann Leiser, Berlin, no. 8977. Photo: Becker & Maass, Berlin.

Dagny Servaes
Dagny Servaes. German postcard by Hermann Leiser, Berlin, no. 8245. Photo: Becker & Maass. Publicity still for Der Bogen des Odysseus. Collection: Didier Hanson.

Paul Hartmann
Paul Hartmann. German postcard by Verleih Hermann Leiser, Berlin, no. 8766. Photo: Becker & Maass.

The Modern Film Stars

Between ca. 1917 and 1933, Marie Böhm was the studio photographer.

Becker & Maass then focused on portrait photography while the German film industry started booming after WW I.

The studio photographed many of the new stars of the silent Weimar cinema. Among their customers were the Danish diva Asta Nielsen, her German counterpart Henny Porten, serial queen Mia May, Paul Wegener and women idol Bruno Kastner.

Many modern young ladies, like Mia’s daughter Eva May, Lotte Neumann, Wanda Treumann and Hanni Weisse, were glamorously portrayed by the studio.

Hedda Vernon
Hedda Vernon. German postcard in the Film Sterne series by Rotophot, no. 232/1. Photo: Becker & Maass / Eiko-Film.

Ellen Richter
Ellen Richter. German postcard in the Film Sterne Series by Rotophot, no. 120/1. Photo: Becker & Maass, Berlin. Collection: Didier Hanson.

Lotte Neumann
Lotte Neumann. German postcard by Ross Verlag, Berlin, no. 340/5, 1919-1924. Photo: Becker & Maass / Maxim Film.

Evi Eva
Evi Eva. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 1790/1, 1927-1928. Photo: Becker & Maass, Berlin.

Lee Parry
Lee Parry. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3616/1, 1928-1929. Photo: Becker & Maass, Berlin.

With A Mouse In Her Hand

Becker & Maas photographed Controversial dancer-actress Anita Berber was photographed with a mouse in her hand.

These sepia star portraits quickly found their ways to Berlin magazines and countless postcards. Initially these postcards were published by Verlag Hermann Leiser and Rotophot, and later by Ross Verlag.

In 1933 the studio was sold to Else Kutznitzki, who probably worked there till 1938. She maintained the studio’s name during this period an focused on fashion and design photography.

What happened to Otto Becker and Heinrich Maass is not known.

Theodor Loos
Theodor Loos. German postcard by Verlag Hermann Leiser. Photo: Becker und Maass, Berlin. Kaiser und Galiläer (Emperor and Galilean) was not a film but a play by Henrik Ibsen, in which Loos played the part of Emperor Julian.

Ida Wüst, Bruno Kastner
Ida Wüst and Bruno Kastner. German postcard by Rotophot, no. 220/1. Photo: Becker & Maass, Berlin.

Anita Berber
Anita Berber. German postcard by Rotophot in the Film Sterne series. Photo: Becker & Maass. Collection: Didier Hanson.

Eva May
Eva May. German postcard by Ross Verlag, Berlin, no. 269/5, 1919-1924. Photo: Becker & Maass.

This is the eighth post in a series on film star photographers. Earlier posts were on the Reutlinger Studio in Paris, Italian star photographer Attilio Badodi, the German photographer Ernst Schneider, Dutch photo artist Godfried de Groot, Milanese photographers Arturo Varischi and Giovanni Artico. the French Studio Lorelle and the British 'royal' photographer Dorothy Wilding.

Sources: John Toohey (Luminous Lint) and Fotografen Wiki (German).

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