Rudolph Schaeffer

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Rudolph Schaeffer
Born(1886-06-26)June 26, 1886
DiedMarch 5, 1988(1988-03-05) (aged 101)
Known forRudolph Schaeffer School of Design
MovementArts and Crafts movement

Rudolph Frederick Schaeffer (June 26, 1886 – March 5, 1988) an American arts educator and artist connected to the Arts and Crafts movement. He was the 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] He was one of many pioneers in the study of color field, and has been credited with establishing the city of San Francisco as an International design center.[3][4]

Early life[edit]

Born on June 26, 1886 in Clare, Michigan to Mary Hirzel and German immigrant and miller, Julius Schaeffer.[5] He attended the Thomas Normal Training School in Detroit, after finishing high school. The school specialized in art, music and manual arts.[5]


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][5] 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.[5]

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.[5] 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) and continued teaching his class, "Design and Color".[6]

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 Japanese aesthetics, philosophy and design and in the 1920s he was teaching these principals.[7]


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. ^ Palmer, Paul (27 September 1962). "Design In Your Life, Rudolph Schaeffer Story: Design For Every Day Life". The San Francisco Examiner. p. 30. Retrieved 2021-11-03.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  4. ^ "Obituaries: Rudolph Schaeffer". The San Francisco Examiner. 8 March 1988. p. 19. Retrieved 2021-11-03.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ "California Living Magazine, Color". The San Francisco Examiner. 18 March 1984. p. 437. Retrieved 2021-11-03.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  7. ^ Graham, Patricia (2014). Japanese Design: Art, Aesthetics & Culture. Tuttle Publishing. ISBN 978-1462916092.

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