Walter Wissenbach 

Born:  10/21/1901

Died:  1981

Biographical Information: 3/16/13

I knew my grandfather from my mother’s stories and the photographs and paintings hanging on our walls, no matter where we moved.   My mother’s family was fractured by divorce, by trauma, war, and my parent’s emigration to the U.S. in 1951.  Walter’s work helped us maintain a sense of connection to family and Germany.  


Walter Arthur Wilhelm Fritz Wissenbach was born on October 21, 1901.  He was a long time resident of Herborn, Germany.  (His given name and date of birth are as recorded by his first child, Ingeborg Wissenbach Wendt, 1925-2007.)  Two additional children came from a second marriage.   His second daughter died recently and is survived by a brother, Werner.  Walter died in 1981 according to his tombstone.   Neither his birth or death dates are confirmed by official documents. Ingeborg left a family tree naming Walter’s parents, grandparents, and great-grand parents.  None of these have been confirmed by geneological research.  Ingeborg saidWalter turned to photography around 1942 after a wartime injury hampered his ability to paint.  He would have been forty two at the time.  Another family anecdote had Walter entertaining the troops (during WWII?) with nature photography.  Family legend is not always consistent.  When and how his skills as a photographer emerged are not yet clear.  Further investigation into family documents and other resources may illuminate this in time.  It was common for photographers to enter the field after art study.  The paintings Walter left offer insight into his artistic development.  The earliest painting in the collection was completed in 1920.  A style development in the collection of  paintings and drawings suggest the effect of a course of study and yet a clear emerging sense of composition.  He probably studied art in Frankfurt where my mother was born in 1925.  Some paintings are on canvas and others on paper board, suggesting scarcity of  materials. Walter completed a number of paintings of the Matterhorn.   According to family legend he enjoyed mountaineering and climbed the Matterhorn on more than one occasion.   I spent the 1968-69 academic year in Europe.  On the few occasions I was with my grandfather, he took time to teach me about his craft and also to take me out in the field with cameras.   His back yard was a source of some of his published photos.    Newspaper clippings report on a wilelife photographic expedition to Africa.   Walter’s publications and work publishd in other sources is listed on the site’s publications page.  The fabric of Walter’s life as a professional photographer is still largely unknown by me.  Ingrid Wendt Jones