Rudolph Schaeffer

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Rudolph "Rudy" Frederick Schaeffer (1886 - 1988) an American artist connected to the Arts and Crafts movement and arts educator. Founder of the Rudolph Schaeffer School of Design, a school that was based in San Francisco and produced designers, architects, interior decorators, teachers and colorists for more than 50 years.[1][2]


Born on June 26, 1886 in Clare, Michigan to Mary Hirzel and German immigrant and miller, Julius Schaeffer.[3] He attended the Thomas Normal Training School in Detroit, after finishing high school. The school specialized in art, music and manual arts.[3]

By 1910 he moved to California and started teaching at the Throop Polytechnic Elementary School in Pasadena, working with Ernest A. Batchelder. In 1914 the United States Commission of Education selected Schaeffer as one of twenty five American educators to move to Munich to learn more about the study of color, design, and craft and how it was being taught in public, industrial, and trade schools.[1][3] During his time in Munich, World War I broke out and caused delays in his return to the United States due to a shortage of boats and family issues.[3]

Upon his returned in 1915 he found work teaching at the School of California Arts and Crafts (now called California College of the Arts or CCA) with Fredrick Meyer.[3] And it was here at CCA he developed new curriculum to teach color theory for a class called "Design and Color", utilizing techniques he learned with Ralph Johonnot in Europe.[2] In 1917 he started teaching at California School of Fine Arts (now called San Francisco Art Institute) continuing teaching his class "Design and Color".

In 1924 he opened his own art school in San Francisco's Chinatown, originally named the Rudolph Schaeffer School of Rhythmo-Chromatic Design. The school later changed names and locations over the years. Schaeffer was greatly influenced by Asian aesthtics, philosophy and design and in the 1920s he was teaching these principals.[4]

He died March 5, 1988 in his home in San Francisco at age 101.[2]


  1. ^ a b "Rudolph Frederick Schaeffer". AskArt. Retrieved 2016-04-15.
  2. ^ a b c "Rudolph Schaeffer Obituary". San Francisco Chronicle. 1988-03-10. Retrieved 2016-04-17.
  3. ^ a b c d e Mitchell, Margaretta K. (1981). "Full text of "The Rudolph Schaeffer School of Design : art in San Francisco since 1915 : oral history transcript / 1982"". University of California Berkeley. Retrieved 2016-04-15.
  4. ^ Graham, Patricia (2014). Japanese Design: Art, Aesthetics & Culture. Tuttle Publishing. ISBN 1462916090.

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