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Lotte Jacobi

A fourth-generation photographer, Lotte Jacobi became known for capturing her subjects, no matter how famous or iconic, in honest, unguarded moments. Jacobi’s great-grandfather, Samuel Jacobi, had learned his craft in 1839 from Louis Daguerre, the inventor of the daguerreotype, and created a studio which was passed down through the generations. Lotte Jacobi studied both photography and cinematography before taking over the family business in 1927. She photographed artists, scientists, and government officials, and her work was so highly regarded that Nazi officials offered to make her an honorary Aryan. She refused, fleeing Berlin for New York in 1935. Once in America, she again became known for her intimate, perceptive photographs of major cultural figures, including Albert Einstein, Robert Frost, and Paul Robeson, talking casually with her subjects until they forgot about the camera. She also experimented with photogenics, exposing photosensitive paper to light to create abstract images. Interested in politics throughout her life, she was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1976. Four years later, having forgotten to register in time for the 1980 convention, she got a press pass from the Concord Monitor, making her the convention’s oldest working press photographer.

"Lotte Jacobi," by Marion Beckers and Elisabeth Moortgat
Full image
A retrospective of Lotte Jacobi by Marion Beckers and Elisabeth Moortgat.
Date of Birth
August 17, 1896
Place of Birth
Date of Death
May 6, 1990

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Lotte Jacobi." (Viewed on December 14, 2018) <>.


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