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Vintage German Illustrators, part 1


Famous German illustrators

Why a special page dedicated to German illustrators? History of children illustration is full of remarkable artists and considering Germany as the home of cultivated fairy tale we should not be surprised if we find so many great illustrators in Germany.

We will concentrate on the era of the second half of the 19th and beginning of 20th century when benefits of reading fairy tales were acknowledged by psychoanalysis. Books with fairy tales suddenly became an important part of education.

At the same time illustrated books with fairy tales changed into picture books as independent media with specific targeted group.

Some material about vintage German illustrators from the 19th century is easy and some very hard to collect. But the web is constantly improving, so we can expect after some time this page will grow with more artists and their illustrations. I highly recommend to bookmark it so you can check for additional info from time to time.

(Intro image: Alexander Zick, all used images are public domain based on author's life 70 years)

The homeland of Grimms' Fairy Tales

Ludwig Richter (from Wikipedia)

Ludwig Richter (from Wikipedia)

Adrian Ludwig Richter


Adrian Ludwig Richter was one of the most famous German illustrators in the 19th century. Ludwig Richter as he is often credited, was also a painter and etcher, what was a very popular combination in early days of printing when the technological process demanded to engrave a wood plates or etching metal plates to make impressions of final prints.

His first teacher was his father Carl Augustus who was engraver and draftsman.

Ludwig Richter got a formal education in Art Academy in his hometown Dresden where he later became a professor. Adrian Ludwig was master of landscape painting and his speciality was an incorporation of figures into the landscape background. He got numerous awards for his work and only eye disease stopped him from painting and drawing when he was already 70 years old.

Adrian Ludwig Richter made more than 2500 woodcuts throughout his life. He also illustrated about 150 books, including works by Goethe, Schiller and, of course, brothers Grimm.

Bridal Procession in the Spring

Bridal Procession in the Spring

Bridal Procession in the Spring

Adrian Ludwig Richter got a golden medal for this painting in the World exhibition in Paris 1855.

Scene from Musaeus' collection

Scene from Musaeus' collection

Folktales of Germans by Johann Karl Augustus Musaeus printed in 1842 is one of the peaks of the career of Adrian Ludwig Richter and also one of finest books made in the 19th century.

In the gallery below we can recognize scenes from some more and some less known Grimm's Fairy Tales from 1862 and 1903 editions:

The Star Money (in color and first black and white),

Hansel and Gretel,

The Cinderella


Scroll to Continue

The Sleeping Beauty.

Book about Ludwig Richter

Mons Lactarius by Alexander Zick

Mons Lactarius by Alexander Zick

Alexander Zick


There is very scarce info on Alexander Zick available. His great-grandfather was famous fresco painter and architect Johann Rasso Januarius Zick, possibly the greatest Baroque painter in Germany (and his father Johann Zick was a painter too), who lived in the 18th century.

Alexander was born in Koblenz, he studied painting and sculpturing in the famous Art Academy in Dusseldorf, later he moved to Berlin and this is the place where he soon moved from history paintings (like Mons Lactarius on the right) to book illustrations career flourished.

Alexander Zick illustrated many major books, including fairy tales by various collectors and authors from Germany but his biggest legacy probably lies in his illustrations in the collection of fairy tales by brothers Grimm.

There supposed to be 40 color plates and I managed to find thirteen of them:

Robinson Crusoe meets Friday

Robinson Crusoe meets Friday

Carl Offterdinger


Carl Offterdinger is another in the line of famous German illustrators connected with Art Academy from Duesseldorf. Although he was born and studied at Stuttgart, he moved to Duesseldorf where he was a student of professor Heinrich von Rustige.

Carl Offterdinger was a figure painter by initial profession and as many other painters also made few church ceilings, but he soon became an illustrator and among his works, we can find many popular books and picture books like Gulliver's Travels, Robinson Crusoe (illustration on the right), Till Eulenspiegel and Nutcracker.

I managed to find out Offterdinger eventually became a professor but don't know when and where this happened.

Being one of the most popular German illustrators of the 19th century we can certainly expect Offterdinger illustrated Grimm's Fairy Tales too.

In the galleries below we can recognize scenes from some of the most famous fairy tales in the world.

Puss in Boots

Puss in Boots

Special note on Puss in Boots

To be honest, we have to exclude one of most famous fairy tales: Puss in Boots.

Although brothers included Puss in Boots in first versions of their collection, later they excluded it. This fairy tale is simply not a part of German cultural heritage.

What is even worse, it is a part of famous French collection written by Charles Perrault.

And if we know at least a bit of a history, we know France and Germany were rivals for many centuries.

So I decided to present Carl Offterdinger's take on Puss in Boots without a company of other famous fairy tales.

If you want to learn more about that particular fairy tale, just press the image below. It is a great fairy tale!

Want to know more about Puss in Boots?

Want to know more about Puss in Boots?

Franz Juttner

(1865-1925 or 1926)

It is very few information available about Franz Juttner, German painter, caricaturist and illustrator. We know he was born in Lindenstadt and he died in Wolfenbuttel. Even the year of his death is not clear.

What we do know is a beautiful and humorous series of illustrations from Snow White presented in the gallery bellow.

Unfortunately this is about all we can say about Franz Juttner. On the web we can also find some of his caricatures in form of posters, with prices from from 30 to 150 US dollars.



Heinrich Hoffmann


Heinrich Hoffmann was not an artist by education. He was a physician and psychiatrist. But he liked to write and draw satirical pieces as a hobby. He made a book titled Struwwelpeter (Shockheaded Peter) as a present to his son for Christmas because he couldn't find an appropriate gift on the market.

This book's popularity soon outgrew the family circle, so a friend who was a publisher convinced him to offer it on the market.

Shockheaded Peter became a success and later Heinrich Hoffmann later made more literary attempts.

None of them was not nearly as successful, maybe with an exception of King Nutcracker and poor Reinhold, but Struwwelpeter is still a classic and many give it the credit as a first picture book in history.

There are many questionable approaches by today's standards in Struwwelpeter...

Stories are teaching about basic hygiene, being careful with matches (and firearms), eating all your food and so on. If not - you will be punished, probably dying in great pains!

Well, many parents and children in the beginning of the 20th century all across the Europe enjoyed the Hoffmann's stories and now they are an important part of literary heritage!

Johann Baptist Zwecker


Johann Baptist Zwecker is another painter and illustrator with a classic educational background in Dusseldorf. He also learned his craft in Frankfurt and at age 25 moved to London where he had a studio with another artist Josef Wolf, who was a specialist in illustration of scenes from nature.

Zwecker made numerous illustrations of wildlife too but he we should not forget his illustration for children books. The gallery below is from The Ice Maiden, one of longest fairy tales by Hans Christian Andersen (careful - this is not the same as Snow Queen!).

Short summary of The Ice Maiden

Ice Maiden is less known Andersen's fairy tale, so I made a selection of ten illustrations made by Johann Baptist Zwecker above and added one short sentence for description. Illustrations are sorted in right order to understand the story, just click them one by one.

Baron Muenchhausen in action!

Baron Muenchhausen in action!

Oskar Herrfurth


Oskar Herrfurth is another German illustrator who started his career as a painter but later turned to illustrating business.

It is not much known about his life, but we know he illustrated numerous famous works by famous authors like Baron Munchausen (image on the right), Karl May, Hans Christian Andersen, Ludwig Bechstein and - surprise - several fairy tales by Grimms including Wolf and Seven Kids, presented in the gallery bellow.

Beware - scenes are pretty realistic!

The series about Wolf and Seven Kids is actually one of several made for greeting cards, what was very popular in the beginning of the 20th century.

Otto Speckter


Otto Speckter was a son of lithograph Johannes Michael and he was trained as a lithograph, etcher and draftsman. With time, he started to make vignettes and arabesques for the books in his printing and finally he became a respected illustrator. Among his most memorable books are Puss in Boots and 50 fables for children.

50 fables for children is work by Wilhelm Heys and is sometimes titled simply as Picture Fables or thanks to the popularity of Speckter's work even Otto Speckter's Picture Fables. Otto Speckter's son Hans was also an illustrator, but he couldn't repeat the success of his father. So if you find yourself in Speckter's Street in Hamburg (Germany) - it is named after Otto!

Do you prefer Fables to Fairy Tales?

If yes, just press the big arrow below!

Your favorite German illustrator