Painter and graphic artist Alva (né Siegfried Solomon Alweiss) was born into an observant Jewish family to traditional Galician parents in Berlin, Germany in 1901. He legally adopting the shortened form of his name, 'Alva', in 1925, studying painting in Paris in 1928 and exhibiting at the Salon d'Automne. Following Hitler’s accession to the German Chancellorship in 1933, Alva became ‘stateless’ after his passport was cancelled since neither of his parents was German. He returned to France and from there fled to London in 1938. In 1940, following the introduction of internment for so-called ‘enemy aliens’, Alva was briefly interned on the Isle of Man, where he produced a number of internment drawings. Alva died in London, England in 1973, the year that his autobiography, ‘With Pen and Brush: The Autobiography of a Painter’ was published.