professional photographer, was born on 6 April 1902 in Dzieditz, Poland. She studied at the Graphische Lehr und Versuchsanstalt (Institute of Graphic Arts and Research) in Vienna in 1917-21 and began her photographic career working in various Viennese studios, initially as a retoucher and later as a photographer. She lived in Prague in 1928 and the following year moved to Berlin with Rudolph Michaelis, whom she married in 1933.
Following Hitler’s rise to power and their brief imprisonment as a result of separate incidents, the couple moved to Barcelona in late 1933. There Margaret opened a studio 'foto-elis’ on the Avenue Republica Argentina. She worked closely with a group of progressive architects associated with Jose Luis Sert and produced the photographic documentation for a proposed redevelopment of a slum area in Barcelona.
In November 1937 Rudolph and Margaret Michaelis divorced. She left Barcelona, travelling first to France and then to Bielsko, Poland, to see her parents. On this visit she visited Cracow and took a group of photographs in the Jewish ghetto (NGA). In December 1938 Margaret was granted a visa to take up employment in the UK. She worked briefly in domestic service in London before being granted a visa to enter Australia. She arrived at Sydney on 2 September 1939 and in 1940 opened her 'Photo-studio’ on the seventh floor of 11 Castlereagh Street, where she specialised in portraiture and dance photography (principally of the Bodenwieser company).
Michaelis joined the Professional Photographers Associations of NSW and Australia in 1941 and was the only female member of the Institute of Photographic Illustrators. Failing eyesight forced the closure of the studio in 1952, and she subsequently found employment as a typist with Richard Hauser and Hephzibah Menuhin, then involved in social research. In 1960 she married Albert George Sachs and moved to Melbourne. She assisted her husband in his framing business until his death five years later.
During the late 1960s and ’70s Margaret Sachs travelled extensively in Europe and Asia. She continued her involvement in the arts, studying painting with Erica McGilchrist and contributing a drawing to the Women’s Art Forum Annual in 1978. Her photographs were included in the 1981-82 touring exhibition, 'Australian Women Photographers 1840-1950’, organised by Barbara Hall and Jenni Mather, and in their book of the same title published in 1986.
After her death in 1985 the photographic archive of Margaret Michaelis-Sachs was donated to the National Gallery of Australia. A selection was presented in a solo exhibition held at the Jewish Museum of Australia in 1987. Michaelis’s Spanish photographs were exhibited in Margaret Michaelis, Fotografia, Vanguardia y Politica en la Barcelona de la Republica held at the IVAM Centre Julio Gonzalez in Valencia, Spain in 1998 and subsequently shown in Barcelona.