Estate Cataloging Project

About the estate 

The S. Fischer Foundation is the copyright heir to the estate of Leonore Mau and Hubert Fichte. After Leonore Mau’s death on September 22, 2013, her estate was initially catalogued in cooperation with the F. C. Gundlach Foundation in Hamburg. 

In 2017, a contractual agreement was reached between the S. Fischer Foundation and the bpk-Bildagentur to take over the estate of Leonore Mau on permanent loan. The photo archive was transferred to bpk-Bildagentur in Berlin, where it will be stored and cared for professionally and conservatively under optimal climatic conditions in the storage facilities of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation in Berlin-Friedrichshagen. 

Leonore Mau’s and Hubert Fichte’s diaries, as well as objects from their apartment, are preserved in Hubert Fichte’s estate at the Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Hamburg Carl von Ossietzky 

The S. Fischer Foundation and the bpk-Bildagentur are united by their common interest in the long-term preservation of Leonore Mau’s photographic work as a visual heritage within contemporary and cultural histories, especially in ethnological terms.  

The cooperation between the two institutions aims to ensure the care of the estate, the long-term preservation and content development and above all, the accessibility of Leonore Maus’ work. In addition to exhibitions, loans and licensing, this website serves to present the work to a broad public. It was modelled with reference to the website for the photographer Abisag Tüllmann, whose estate was also comprehensively catalogued by the bpk Bildagentur: 

Archived pocket diaries by Leonore Mau
from the Hubert Fichte estate in the SUB Hamburg
© Nathalie David

Pocket diary from 1963 and business cards of Leonore Mau
from the Hubert Fichte estate in the SUB Hamburg
© Nathalie David

On the indexing of the estate of Leonore Mau 2017 – 2022 

The cataloguing project on Leonore Mau took place in cooperation between the S. Fischer Foundation and the bpk-Bildagentur with the support of two external project staff: Marlene Burmeister and Nathalie David from 2017-2022. The aim of the project was to sift through the entire estate, make it accessible and digitise a selection of it. Licensing for use is provided via the image portal of the bpk-Bildagentur:  

The Mau website serves to present the work to an interested public and as a research support for students and scholars.  

After an initial sifting and sorting of the approx. 112. 200 motifs by country, which comprised just over 70 folders with negatives, contact sheets and colour slides, the partly unsorted image material was assigned to the various countries. Motifs which could not be assigned were sorted thematically accordingly. 

In addition to the indexing work, which primarily served to make individual motifs easier to find, the main task was to select images for presentation on the Mau website according to thematic focus. In the meantime, more than 900 images have been indexed and newly digitised. They can be searched via the thematic portfolios on the website.  

The individual motifs were recorded in the backstage database of the bpk picture agency. Captions on the images, the calendars diaries kept by Leonore Mau and Hubert Fichte as well as published works served as helpful sources for capturing the metadata. 

The original prints by Leonore Mau served as scans. In the case of massive damage or a non-existent original print, original negatives and slides were also used for the scan. 

Leonore Mau’s photographic oeuvre comprises around 112,200 motifs; black-and-white negatives, colour slides and colour negatives, plus over 6,300 original prints. The entire photographic estate is accessible via contact sheets and search tools and can be researched thematically. 

Archive boxes with original prints in the
Storage Magazine Berlin-Friedrichshagen
© Marlene Burmeister

Folders with contact sheets
© Nathalie David