Frederick Schoenfeld (c.1810-1868
Schoenfeld arrived in Melbourne on board the Scottish Chief in May 1858, ) and sought work as an artist, lithographer and drawing master. He joined a community of accomplished German-speaking artists and scientists who settled in Melbourne in the 1850s, encouraged to emigrate by opportunities the young colony's gold rush-fuelled growth presented.
Schoenfeld's major Australian achievement was the numerous finely detailed botanical illustrations commissioned by Ferdinand Von Mueller for his landmark publications. These have been acclaimed as being among the most accomplished botanical lithographs produced anywhere in the world during that period.
While it seems that Schoenfeld spent much of his time at Von Mueller's Botanic Gardens herbarium on the southern bank of the Yarra River, over on the north side at the University of Melbourne Frederick McCoy also recognised his skill as both artist and lithographer.
Schoenfeld and Arthur Bartholomew appear to have worked in the University laboratory together, creating images of the same specimens from either side of the same table. Schoenfeld's watercolour images of fish are notable for their mottled, almost muddy tones. Their moody feel distinguishes them among other artists' more clinical representations.
His lithographs of fossil cowries and volutes also reveal Schoenfeld as a master of plate tone. Subtly picking up the texture of limestone, he achieves the seamless graduation from light to dark required to give his subjects convincing form.
Unemployed in early 1868, Schoenfeld sold everything and prepared to leave the colony. However his depression increased and, following a failed first attempt to drown himself at Port Melbourne, he ended his life in a water-filled quarry in Richmond on 21 April 1868.
Schoenfeld's commissions for McCoy were published posthumously in both the Prodromus of the Zoology of Victoria and the Prodromus of Palaeontology of Victoria.