Ricardo Wiesenberg, who with his wife Hanne Brenken helped save a historic 1891 house on Georgica Road built by William Almy Wheelock, died on Oct. 8 in Vence, France. He was 85 and had Alzheimer’s disease.
Mr. Wiesenberg was born in Berlin on Aug. 4, 1926. According to his family, his mother, Frieda Wiesenberg, was killed by the Nazis during World War II and his father, Samuel Factor, from a wealthy Latvian family, fled to America. Mr. Wiesenberg, who was 17 at the time, was left behind and kept in a concentration camp until freed by the Allies after the war. He decided to become an artist.
He went to school in Dresden and was an apprentice to a photographer, but decided to paint instead, enrolling in the Kunsthochschule Burg Giebichenstein in Halle and also at the Academy of Fine Arts in Dresden, part of East Germany at the time. In 1952, he fled from the country after making incendiary comments opposing the Communist government. In Munich, he continued his studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich and received a master’s degree in 1958.
He met Ms. Brenken in 1970 in Italy and they lived together in Tuscany for several years and then came to the South Fork in 1977. They stayed in Water Mill first before they fell in love with the property they would make their home until 2003. He restored the house himself for the most part and made a few changes such as adding studios for both him and Ms. Brenken, who is also an artist. The couple married in 1984.
While here, Mr. Wiesenberg’s paintings were on view at the Parrish Art Museum and he painted a portrait of Enez Whipple, the longtime director of Guild Hall, for the institution. He also exhibited in other gallery and group shows in the area. Money magazine named Ricardo Wiesenberg one of the eight best portrait painters in the United States in 1982. The couple lived in California briefly and then returned to Europe in 2003 and settled in Vence, a small town in the South of France.
His wife survives him. The couple had no children, although Mr. Wiesenberg was close to his two stepchildren. A funeral and burial were held on Nov. 11 in Greimharting, a small town close to Munich in Germany, where his wife’s family lives.