Street Visions: Europe 1934, Photographs by Richard J. Scheuer

ADA Version
Street Visions: Europe • 1934
Photographs by Richard J. Scheuer

August 22 – December 15, 2022
Dr. Bernard Heller Museum, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, New York
Jean Bloch Rosensaft, Director
Dr. Laura Kruger, Curator Emerita
Phyllis Freedman, Co-Curator, Exhibitions
Nancy Mantell, Ph.D., Co-Curator, Travelling Exhibitions
Susan Rosenstein, Registrar and Archivist
Rose Starr, Ph.D., Research Director
Susan H. Picker, Ph.D., Assistant Curator
Eleanor Berman, Museum Communications, Catalogue Design
Ian Mankes and Thelonious Fiorito, Exhibition Installation

© 2022 Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion

This exhibition is made possible by the Richard J. Scheuer Family.

Presented by the Irma L. and Abram S. Croll Center for Jewish Learning and Culture at Hebrew Union CollegeJewish Institute of Religion, with the generous support of Mildred Weissman, z”l, and George Weissman, z”l.

Cover: Richard J. Scheuer, Street Scene, Warsaw, Poland, 1934.

Richard J. Scheuer
1934 Passport Photo
(note the camera strap)


Jonathan S. Scheuer

On July 15th, 1934, the day after his 17th birthday, Richard “Dick” Scheuer and his father Simon boarded
the SS Champlain in New York harbor, bound for Le Havre, France. For the next eight weeks, Dick Scheuer
toured Europe. Along the way, he made photographs. His subjects were most often ordinary people going
about their business. Consequently, the record of this journey offers a window into street life in central
Europe at the time. Scheuer’s intimate portraits of shopkeepers demonstrate a remarkable rapport with
strangers. His photographs of passers-by are precocious examples of the emerging aesthetic of 35mm street
photography. The framing is consistently complex, characterized by a strong interplay of central and edge
elements. Gestures and expressions are captured with exquisite timing. Scheuer’s sensitivity to existing light
conditions is apparent in every frame.

From Paris, he traveled southwest by train to the Basque region of France and Spain, then to Italy, stopping
at Genoa, Milan, and Venice. From Venice, he crossed the Adriatic by ferry to Yugoslavia, visiting Split,
Dubrovnik, Mostar, and Sarajevo. Scheuer continued by train to Budapest and then Warsaw, where he
photographed the city’s Jewish neighborhood. Traveling on to Moscow, he attended the Second Moscow
Theater Festival, and from there returned to France.
In his photographs from the Jewish quarter of Warsaw, we see the members of that community appearing
generally relaxed and unconstrained (this was five years before the Nazi invasion of Poland). In Moscow,
Scheuer photographed a street parade and a young women’s kazoo band, as well as productions at the
Vakhtangov Theater, the Bolshoi Opera, the Moscow Children’s Theater, and the Moscow State Yiddish
After his return to New York, Scheuer’s negatives from this trip were developed and contact strips were
made, but he appears to have never enlarged any of these pictures. Upon his graduation from Ethical Culture
Fieldston School the following spring, he went on to undergraduate study at Harvard, service as an officer in
the Army Signal Corps during WWII, and a career as a real estate executive. His philanthropic work included
service as Board Chair at The Jewish Museum and at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion,
where he spearheaded the development of HUC-JIR’s Jerusalem campus in partnership with the architect
Moshe Safdie. Dick Scheuer passed away in 2008 at the age of 91.
Throughout the rest of his life, he continued photographing as an amateur, building a darkroom in the basement
of his home in Larchmont, NY, where he taught his children how to develop and print film. Scheuer’s later work,
though less audacious than these European photos, is often suffused with a similar tenderness and attention to
detail. Some of his portraits of family life are collected in the book Dick’s Wooden Box, which Dan Scheuer and
our friend Charles Seton published in 2013. In 2018, Dan and Charles turned their attention to the 1934 photos,
which had never been seen in the more than eighty years since Dick Scheuer made them, and began digitizing
and restoring them.
Dick Scheuer captured a unique visual record of daily life in Europe in 1934. Those who knew Dick will
recognize the sensitivity and intellectual curiosity that these images reveal. The boldness of this young man,
between his junior and senior years of high school, may come as a surprise to those who remember the
scholarly, reserved gentleman of his maturity. Those who never met him will discover a photographer who
met the world with empathy and courage.

“The world has to see these pictures!”
Restoring Dick Scheuer’s 1934 Photographs

Charles Seton

In 2014, my friend Dan Scheuer showed me an old cardboard box of uncut, tightly wound negatives and contact
strips from a trip his father Dick made to Europe in 1934. As I gently uncurled the first of the fragile paper
contact strips, and then the next, I was smitten. My first thought was: “The world has to see these pictures!”
I was astounded by the proficiency and aesthetic quality of these images made by a 17-year-old. The boldness
and experimentation evident in the photos didn’t match with the mellow older gentleman that I knew. The
realization that some of the people in these pictures almost certainly did not survive the next ten years gave
the project an emotional urgency for me.

Dan told me that he had taken a quick look at the contact strips in the 1990s, when his father had been cleaning
out the top shelf of his clothes closet, and had asked Dick for permission to print some of them. For some
unknown reason, Dick had politely demurred. Dick Scheuer passed away in 2008, before we had a chance to talk
with him in depth about the trip.
The negatives were shot on nitrate-based 35mm movie film, famous for bursting into flames and causing
warehouse fires that, sadly, have destroyed many vintage movies and collections of still photographs. Dan and
I recognized this risk, and insisted on waiting until we found a proper conservator to uncurl and digitize the
13 potentially brittle and degraded rolls of film – some 374 individual frames. In 2018, we sent the negatives
to Chicago Albumen Works, specialists in silent film restoration, where they were converted at high resolution
with a digital Hasselblad camera. Once we had the digital files, I worked on them intermittently over the next
four years.

The negatives had some flaws that were likely there at the outset – a few light leaks, lens flares, the occasional
underexposure or missed focus. There were stains, scratches, crimps and small tears that may have been compounded
by 80+ years of casual storage. I fixed the defects in the digitized negatives using modern technology, primarily
Lightroom, and Photoshop’s cloning and healing tools. Some images required more than ten hours of precise
pixel-by-pixel repair.
A few of the images were too flawed or damaged to even consider. Of the ones that remained, we chose to begin with
those that would attract the most interest, principally the Warsaw pictures. I began the restoration by modifying
contrast and fixing light leaks and lens flares using Lightroom, adjusting the light so that the main subject was
highlighted. From there I moved to Photoshop, where I would sometimes create multiple layers in order to try new
techniques that might or might not work. Typically, I make multiple passes through each image file, fixing the big
problems first, and then returning to tackle the small problems. It’s a process of incremental refinement. I do all of this
detailed work at a high magnification. If something looks perfect at 300% or 400%, it will look perfect at 100%. When
the image has been restored to my satisfaction, I bring it back into Lightroom, make a virtual copy, and then tweak the
results. Sometimes the picture will look very different after restoration, requiring further adjustments and toning.
I believe that the full restoration of vintage photographs removes a barrier that keeps viewers at a distance. Dan and
I discussed this at length. People not familiar with professional darkroom techniques may not be aware that in the
pre-digital era, printers regularly employed sophisticated techniques of manipulation of photographs, including
burning, dodging, masking, bleaching, and retouching. Digital editing tools are analogous in many ways. I used them
in the spirit of bringing out the best in each image.
The reigning ethic among photography art dealers and museums is to exhibit only vintage prints made by the
photographer, close to the time that the negatives were exposed. In this case, those prints do not exist. We decided
that these photographs needed to be fully restored, printed, and exhibited.
In another move against convention, we decided to make 16” x 24” archival digital prints, which are much larger than
the prevailing print size of the 1930s. There are so many exquisite details in these images that we want viewers to be
able to see in all their glory.
Dick Scheuer first hired me in 1981 to photograph one of the family’s big Thanksgiving reunions. From that time on,
I was the family’s regular photographer. I also restored vintage family photographs. Dick always trusted me and gave
me the freedom to produce prints the way that I saw them, working in the family’s darkroom in Larchmont. I’m
grateful, at long last, to be returning the favor.

Remembering Dick Scheuer

Rabbi David Ellenson, Ph.D., Chancellor Emeritus, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion

There were many privileges attached to serving as President of HUC-JIR, though none was greater
than the closeness that office afforded me to Richard Scheuer. His devotion to HUC-JIR was absolute
and no one supported or guided the College-Institute more than he. He was always caring, kind,
modest, and generous. HUC-JIR could not have prospered and grown as it did during his years of
service without his involvement and guidance.
However, as I consider this exhibition of photographs that he took in Europe as a teenager, I am
reminded of his extraordinary intellect and his wide-ranging intellectual interests and concerns.
Indeed, I experienced his scholarly curiosity long before I became President. Mr. Scheuer would
often attend academic lectures I would deliver at meetings of the American Academy of Religion and
the Society of Biblical Literature when I was still a professor at the Los Angeles campus of HUC-JIR,
and he would carry on animated correspondence and rigorous discussion with me of what were
surely esoteric scholarly topics far beyond the purview and concern of virtually all non-academics.
At lunches and dinners in later years, this man, who later in life earned a degree in archaeology
from NYU, would inform me in detail of how recent archaeological discoveries in 6th century BCE
Northwest Assyria had transformed our knowledge of that time and place. On other occasions,
he would ask me whether I thought there were parallels between the notion of the “categorical
imperative” in Kant and the notion of “mitzvah-commandment” in Judaism. His was
not a pedestrian mind and I delighted in my time with him and with Joan. What a couple!
I am so happy the College-Institute can share this glimpse into the life of the young Richard Scheuer
and the world of Eastern European Jewry, on the eve of what would prove to be a tragic chapter
in the life of our people, through these photographs. They provide a rare and important glimpse
into the being of the Jewish people at a critical moment in our history. We are grateful to his family
and friends for recovering and presenting these images and to the College-Institute and Jean Bloch
Rosensaft for presenting them in our New York Museum. All who see them should enjoy and be
edified by them. Nothing would grant Dick greater satisfaction!

Girls in Hats,

Saint-Jean-de-Luz, France

Cattle Market (Vétérinaire),
Saint-Jean-de-Luz, France

Cattle Market (Races Étrangères),
Saint-Jean-de-Luz, France

French or Italian

Saint-Jean-de-Luz, France

Train Station, Milan, Italy

Man in Dalmatian Costume,

Man with Cigarette,

Outdoor Market,
Dubrovnik, Yugoslavia


Street Market,

Man with Fez, Sarajevo, Yugoslavia

Shoemaker, Mostar, Yugoslavia

Courtyard with Three Women, Yugoslavia

Fabric Shop, Sarajevo, Yugoslavia

Woman with Veil,
Sarajevo, Yugoslavia

Gazi Husrev-beg Mosque, Sarajevo, Yugoslavia

Man with Ducks, Sarajevo, Yugoslavia

Szechenyi Baths, Budapest, Hungary

Livery Driver,

Men with Prayer Shawls,
Warsaw, Poland

Man Outside Women’s Apparel Store, Warsaw, Poland

Man in Front of Paint Store,
Warsaw, Poland

Man in Train Station,
Warsaw, Poland

Men in Front of Clothing Store, Warsaw, Poland

Watermelon Seller,
Warsaw, Poland

Seated Man
Outside Store,
Warsaw, Poland

Shoemaker and Customers, Warsaw, Poland

Street Parade, Moscow, USSR

Girls’ Kazoo Band, Moscow, USSR

Official Proceeding, Moscow, USSR

Ringmaster Character, Moscow Children’s Theater, Moscow, USSR

Characters in Hats, Moscow Children’s Theater, Moscow, USSR

Sholem Aleichem’s “The Jackpot” (#1),
Moscow State Yiddish Theater, Moscow, USSR

Sholem Aleichem’s “The Jackpot” (#2),
Moscow State Yiddish Theater, Moscow, USSR

Dog Jumping Over Girl, France

Family Meal in Garden, France

For inquiries regarding the purchase of prints
from the exhibition, or the forthcoming book
Street Visions: Europe • 1934 – Photographs by Richard J. Scheuer,
please contact Charles Seton at, or go to
All photographs © Richard J. Scheuer Archive