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Vintage German Illustrators, part 2


Famous German Illustrators

We have already presented several famous German illustrators of fairy tales.

Now we will continue with more masterpieces from second half of 19 th and beginning of 20 century. All presented illustrators are dead more then 70 years, what makes their illustrations public domain in most countries.

As we can expect, vintage German illustration is closely related with famous fairy tales written by Bechstein, Grimms, Hoffmann, Hauff and other famous authors and collectors.

Let's take a look at work which still inspires illustrators of fables, fairy tales and stories for children.

Intro image: scene from Brother and Sister by Paul Meyerheim.

Bechstein's Fairy Tales Book

Bechstein's Fairy Tales Book

Adolf Erhardt


Adolf Ehrhardt was born as Karl Ludwig Adolf Ehrhardt. He studied painting at Art Academies at Berlin, Dusseldorf and Dresden.

When he became an assistant to historical painter Eduard Bendemann, they cooperated at many decorative projects at royal palace. Ehrhardt later became a professor himself.

Adolf Ehrhardt was also portraitist (oil painting were his speciallity, he had actually written sort of manual for oil painters), worked on many projects in different churches and we have to mention illustrations in different books.

On the right we can see the title cover of famous Ludwig Bechstein's The German Fairy-Tale Book.

Below are some scenes from the collection of German Ballades.

Self portrait

Self portrait

Albert Weisgerber


Despite his early death Albert Weisgerber was very prolific painter who experimented in several styles.

He was studying in Frankfurt and Munich but maybe even more important were his visits to France and Italy. French impressionism with Cezanne, Toulouse-Lautrec and others had great influence on him for several years.

Weisgerber was pretty successful with his portraits but after getting in contact with so called Quattrocento (early Renaiscance style in Italy with Boticelli, da Vinci and others) he started painting more religious themes like the painting of David and Goliath below.

David and Goliath

David and Goliath

Albert Weisgerber was killed in World War. As interesting trivia we can add he served in the same regiment as Adolf Hitler. Weisgerber's works were later confiscated by Nazi regime and sold in auctions.

After the war Weisgerber's widow got financial compensation for this confiscation but probably even more important is the fact one of most prestigious rewards in Germany for visual artists is now named by Alert Weisgerber.

In next two galleries we can check his dark vision of some less known (with the exception of Hansel and Gretel) fairy tales by Grimms.

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Heinrich Hoffmann by Eugen Klimsch

Heinrich Hoffmann by Eugen Klimsch

Eugen Klimsch


Eugen Johann Georg Klimsch was son of a lithographer, older brother of two painters and father of a sculptor. His life was surrounded with art and he had tried himself in many areas.

Eugen Klimsch was formally trained in Frankfurt and Munich, and illustrated and designed everything from decorative borders of official documents and playing cards to postcards and decorations of rooms in ships.

He mastered several old styles in painting and preferred them using in his work. Klimsch also got several prestigious awards for his miniatures on parchment.

He illustrated several books for kids and youth. On the right we can see Klimsch's portrait of Heinrich Hoffmann, one of the fathers of picture books.

Below is a gallery with illustrations from 50 fables by Wilhelm Hey.

Gustav Sus - (1823-1881)

Hedgehog and Hare

Hedgehog and Hare

His full name was actually Konrad Gustav Sus. He studied art in Kassel and Frankfurt. To earn enough money he started writing stories for children which he also illustrated. These stories, especially series about a hedgehog and a hare (image above) became quite popular and were even translated in several languages.

After studies Gustav Sus moved to Dusseldorf where he lived and worked until his death. His paintings were often humorous and his speciality was drawing all sorts of poultry what we can see in next gallery of illustrations too.

Hermann Vogel


Hermann Vogel was son of an architect who at first studied law, after a year moved to Art Academy in Dresden, where he was one of the students of Ludwig Richter, but didn't finish the studies. Despite that fact he became one of most famous German illustrators from the beginning of 20 th century.

As very good observer he became a self taught illustrator for publishing company, so he had a chance of illustrating many beautiful books for children, including Hans Christian Andersen's Fairy Tales, German Folk Tales by Johann Karl August Musaeus and many adventure stories as presented in mini gallery below.

The Sleeping Beauty

The Sleeping Beauty

Hermann Vogel's style in his prime can be classified as late romantic and as most of German illustrators he couldn't say no to the collection of brothers Grimm.

In these illustrations we can feel Hermann Vogel's love to nature (he was not very happy about development at any cost, especially at the cost of destroying a nature) which was also presented through the poems he was writing.

In Vogel's illustrations we can feel his gentle sense of humor too.

Vogel became pretty famous illustrator and was eventually entitled as professor.

In the picture on the right we can enjoy the famous scene from Sleeping Beauty and there are more illustrations from the list of classic fairy tales in next series of illustrations.

Illustration from Golden Children'sWorld

Illustration from Golden Children'sWorld

Oscar Pletsch


Oscar (sometimes Oskar) Pletsch is another painter with painting in genes. His father was a lithographer and teacher of drawing. Oscar studied at Art Academy in Dresden and was one of students of Adrian Ludwig Richter.

Very early developed style uitable for children illustrations and they made him famous as illustrator and woodcutter not only in Germany but internationally, including USA.

At the age of 47 he was awarded with a title professor by a Saxon King. In the next series (Child Land) we can clearly see how powerful was Pletsch at presentation of scenes from everyday's life.

Meyerheim's portrait by Ludwig Loffler

Meyerheim's portrait by Ludwig Loffler

Paul Meyerheim


Paul Friedrich Meyerheim was a brother and a son of a painter. His father's brothers were painters too, so visual arts were in his blood.

Paul's father was his first teacher, then he studied in Berlin, travel to Austria, Belgium, France, Netherlands and Switzerland, where he didn't only learned but was soon recognized as a great potential.

Paul Meyerheim became one of most famous painter of his time. He made woodcuts, lithographies and - what else - illustrations for several books of famous German authors, as Goethe and brothers Grimm.

One of Paul Meyerheim's most memorable works is a cycle of seven paintings on copper plates named »The Life Story of Locomotive«, exhibited in 1912 (above) but his biggest love was painting of animals.

This can be clearly seen on all presented illustrations in next gallery of illustrations from the Grimms' collection (1893) where animals play very different roles, from main characters (The Wolf and the Seven Little Kids), enemies (Little Red Riding Hood), side characters (Goose Girl), objects (Hans in Luck), friends (Cinderella), partners (Frog King) and on and on...

Grimm's Fairy Tales illustrated by Paul Meyerheim

Sometimes we hear about a certain book: it is a classic. Well, this is the one. If you want to know anything about fairy tales, you should read Grimms' Fairy Tales.

Hansel and Gretel by Hosemann

Hansel and Gretel by Hosemann

Theodor Hosemann


Painter, caricaturist, illustrator, cartoonis, draftsmen and litographer with full name Friedrich Wilhelm Heinrich Theodor Hosemann became an apprentice in lithography workshop in Dusseldorf at 15 years. Few years later he became a draftsmen and at the same time he studied in Art Academy in Dusseldorf.

When he became a private tutor of Carl von Bruhl's kids many doors to higher circles opened to Hosemann who portrayed many affluent citizens and became a sort of city chronologist. His illustrating legacy is rich too. Theodor Hosemann illustrated numerous books for children, including Andersen's Fairy Tales, E.T. A. Hoffmann's collected writings, Grimms' Fairy Tales (the image on the right is from Hansel and Gretel) and Adventures of Baron Munchausen (mini gallery below).

Your favorite vintage German illustrator on this page

Your thoughts on vintage German illustrators and their illustartions - Do you prefer color or black and white pieces?

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on July 02, 2015:

He is one of the greatest masters of his time, that's for sure, KevinVuong:)

KevinVuong on June 21, 2015:

I adore Hermann Vogel's illustrations soooooooooo much!!!!!!!

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on December 07, 2013:

@WriterJanis2: You are always welcome.

WriterJanis2 on December 04, 2013:

It's been awhile since I have visited this lens. It's just as enjoyable as the first time.

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on March 08, 2013:

@Felicitas: They are both beautiful and actually two different media each with specific laws...

Felicitas on March 07, 2013:

I think it depends very much on the specific image. If there is little detail, black and white can be much more dramatic. But, with some of the more intricate illustrations, color creates more realism.

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on February 27, 2013:

@kabbalah lm: Sometimes lack of colors really add specific dimension. Thanks!

kabbalah lm on February 26, 2013:

I always find B&W more interesting, even in photography. Blessings again

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on February 19, 2013:

@anonymous: You are too kind!

anonymous on February 19, 2013:

Fantastic feature on the subject!

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on February 19, 2013:

@anonymous: :)

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on February 19, 2013:

@anonymous: :)

anonymous on February 18, 2013:

I just had to find this after visiting part 1 and you've continued the wonders of wonderful illustrators and I gave up on trying to pick just one favorite. The more you look at an illustration, the more drawn into a story you would be. Your teaching gift came alive once again with this two part series!

anonymous on February 18, 2013:

I just had to find this after visiting part 1 and you've continued the wonders of wonderful illustrators and I gave up on trying to pick just one favorite. The more you look at an illustration, the more drawn into a story you would be. Your teaching gift came alive once again with this two part series!

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on February 16, 2013: