Hansel and Gretel – Pictures from the Story

Hansel and Gretel: Pictures, Images, Illustrations

Well known story about Hansel and Gretel by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm offers several interesting scenes for lovely pictures. Apart from both title characters, we have the witch and the parents, the gingerbread house, lots of greenery, birds, the iron stove and of course a treasure, found in the end of the tale.

Many painters and illustrators created unforgettable pictures of the kids lost in the wood and their dilemmas which touched so many real children all over the world. Let’s start our journey with a few paintings.

Paintings of Hansel and Gretel

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This oil painting on canvass by Paul Hermann Wagner (1852-1937) was made in the late 19th or early 20th century. You can buy a reproduction for a few thousand dollars (depending on the dimension), but you won’t find this scene in the fairy tale. The artist simply used some of the basic elements to confront and portray one of the basic motifs of the story about Hansel and Gretel – the fear of being abandoned by protectors (parents) and lost in the forest (unknown).

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Hermann von Kaulbach (1846-1909) was a historical painter by specialization, but became most known by portraits of the children. Both paintings above are fine examples of his sense for details.  Hansel and Gretel are seen as a boy and a girl in different, urbane world through his eyes.

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This painting of Hansel and Gretel is by Mikhail Vrubel (1856-1910) also known as Portrait of N.I. Zabela and T.S. Lyubatovich is a watercolor made in 1896 after the opera wher both singers played Hans and Greta. The production was a great success, but even more important was the meeting of the painter and the singer Nadezda Zabela, the model for the Gretel, who became Mrs. Vrobel and the very same year.

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Karl Hartmann (1861-1927) opted for a different scene. Kids (in this case called Janiek and Marenka) are hiding, but look at the witch from their hideout with more curiosity than fear.

As we see, a lot of artistic freedom was used for the paintings. Was the same at vintage postcards with motifs from fairy tale Hansel and Gretel?

Postcards with Hansel and Gretel

Two kids in the forest, a gingerbread house and a witch make very attractive elements for a postcard, so it’s no surprise to find many postcards with Hansel and Gretel theme. We’ll present a few of them as well.

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Otto Theodore Gustav Lingner (1857-1917) was a representative of so-called Munich school. His portrait of Hansel and Gretel above combines artist’s imagination and realistic approach to the final product. His favorite subject were nudes. He painted many motifs for postcard as well.

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Karl Martin August Splitgerber (1844-1918) was a landscape painter influenced by impressionism and Art Nouveau. When his son Fritz also became a painter, they together produced several series of landscape paintings for postcards.

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Fritz Gareis (1872-1925) was a cartoonist and comic artist from Austria. In the postcard above we can see his more dreamy / fantastic style. The image is titled Hansel and Gretel / The Babes in the Wood, but we won’t find such scene in any of these relatively related stories.

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Franz Mueller-Muenster (1867-1936) portrayed a scene with a witch chasing Hansel and Gretel in the woods, what is a non-existent scene too.

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Marie Wunsch (1862-1898) created this impressive scene with Hansel and Gretel where the fear dominates all over.

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Helene Gammius (1854-1916) was a German painter who created the postcard with a scene right before the culmination. The witch is still in the position of power, although we all know this won’t last for long.

It’s time to leave artists from German speaking languages and see at least a few works from the artists coming from other countries, with a bit different cultural background. Here is a series of Hansel and Gretel themed postcards by one of the most popular Swedish postcard artists.

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Jenny Nystroem (1854-1946) was extremely popular for her Christmas postcards. She is often called the mother of the Swedish tomte (elf).

Illustrations of Hansel and Gretel

This is by far the largest section of images related to this famous fairy tale, one of rare ones (among most popular ones, at least) with two, not one main protagonist, where (what is another curiosity) one dominates in one and the other in another part of the story. Of course, expect German artists in majority, but you’ll find some of  the finest names from the world of illustration coming from non German speaking countries as well.

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Alexander Zick (1845-1907) started his artistic pursuits as a sculptor, but soon switched to painting and after a while became well-known illustrator. His main occupation were mythological themes.

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Carl Offterdinger (1829-1889) was very successful genre painter and illustrator. Book of fairy tales from brothers Grimm is among his most known works. He collaborated with Heinrich Leutemann (1824-1905) on several occasions and it’s not always clear who did which illustration.

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Curt Liebich (1869-1937) specialized in rural paintings, mostly from the surroundings of Gutach, where he lived for substantial part of his life and even became an honorary citizen of the town. Three pictures above, all with the witch on the scene, are his work from 1925.

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Eugen Johann Georg Klimsch (1839-1896) was born in artistic family. His father and two brothers were successful painters too. Illustrating books for chilfdren (and for ‘serious audience) was his top achievement, but he designed posters, banknotes, certificates and similar stuff as well.

His Hansel and Gretel look quite optimistic. Look at these rosy cheeks and try not to think about the bars. They look like two kids at regular play, right?

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Heinrich Vogeler (1872-1942) was a painter, architect and designer, who was also actively involved in politics. As a volunteer he was sent to the East front in the World War I, then sent to the mental hospital after writing an appeal for peace to the Kaiser and became a pacifist and a member of communist party in Germany. His life ended in Kazakhstan, where he was sent in World War II, after being married to a Polish lady  and both moved to Soviet Union

As an artist, he was heavily influenced by Art Nouveau, what is clearly seen at the borders of the illustration above.

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Hermann Vogel (1854-1924) illustrated some of the most popular fairy tales of all times, including works by Hans Christian Andersen, Johann Karl August Musaus and brothers Grimm. He also illustrated a standalone editionof Hansel and Gretel in 1894, but the picture above was made two years earlier.

Talking about longer series …

Series of Hansel and Gretel illustrations by Theodor Hosemann

Next set of illustrations was published in the Deutsche Bilderbogen für Jung und Alt series under Nr. 53 around 1870.

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Friedrich Wilhelm Heinrich Theodor Hosemann (1807-1875) started his career at twelve years as an apprentice litographer and was just three years later regularly employed as a draftsman. He became a Chief illustrator at only 21 and a Professor at Prussian Academy of Art at 50.

Series of Illustrations by Franz Mueller-Muenster

We have already seen a postcard signed by this artist. Now we have a set of five pictures from Hansel and Gretel.

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Are we ready for some more?

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Ludwig Emil Grimm (1790-1863) was younger brother of more famous Jacob and Wilhelm and the first illustrator of German edition of their collection (illustrated English collection was published before, but without pictures from Hansel and Gretel). This means this black and white illustration is officially the oldest of all. It’s dated 1825.

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Ludwig Pietsch (1824-1911) was a man of many talents and painting was one of them, as we can see in the picture above. He was also a talented writer, critic and socialite who enjoyed life well after his 70th birthday (when he got a honorary title of the Professor as a birthday present). This picture was made in 1853.

The same year next short series of pictures was made too:

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These illustrations by Adrian Ludwig Richter (1803-1884) don’t belong to one of the countless collections by Grimm brothers, but are from Ludwig Bechstein’s Deutsche’s Marchenbusch, where the protagonists were called Hanschen and Gretchen. Several later editions of Grimm’s collections included illustrations first published in Bechstein’s book(s).

While we mentioned Ludwig Bechstein’s Hansel and Gretel, we should add it’s slightly different than Grimm’s version. At Bechstein parents are real father and mother (no step-mother, like at Grimms after the 1840 edition) and they are both in a painful dilemma before the decision about kids leaving in the forest. They both survive until Hansel and Gretel return home and all together live happily ever after.

If you wish to read more interesting facts about this popular fairy tale, check next article:

https://wizzley.com/hansel-and-gretel/

Let’s continue with an illustrator who was born decades after the last presented pictures were published.

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Karl Feiertag (1874-1944) was well-known genre painter from Austria, who was especially successful with postcards with children and dogs.

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Karl Rudolf Gustav Muehlmeister (1876-1942/5) was another genre painter. He illustrated many fairy tales, adventure stories, like Baron Munchausen and even Heidi by Johanna Spyri.

While it’s obvious to expect vintage illustrations of Hansel and Gretel in majority, we can still enjoy in countless different styles and approaches of the artists. Let’s see, for instance a short sequence of line drawings:

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Otto Ubbelohde (1867-1922) draw illustrations above in 1907. He created 448 fairy tale illustrations between 1906 and 1909 what brought him international fame. As an established painter he found an inspiration in landscapes from his favorite places for painting. These (and many more) drawings were first published by Turm-Verlag from Leipzig and the same book with his illustrations is still printed all over the world.

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Philipp Grot Johann (1841-1892) illustrated similar gigantic project with complete collection of Grimm’s Fairy tales. He was in top demand in his times, but unfortunately died at only 51 year and his project was finished by Robert Leinweber (1845-1921).

After two shorter series we are probably ready for a few longer ones …

Illustrations of Hansel and Gretel by Richard Scholz

All these illustrations are from the picture book from 1904, published as Scholz’ Kunstler-Bilderbucher.

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Richard Scholz (1860-1939) illustrated many books for kids and this was made for Josef Scholz Verlag, Mainz.

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Richard Flockenhaus (1876-1943) was at one moment of his live announced as the greatest painter of his time, but is almost forgotten today. His live and creative work was deeply marked by the experience of World War I. Illustration above was made around 1910.

Pictures of Hansel and Gretel by Albert Weisgerber

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These illustrations were all made by Albert Weisgerber (1878-1915) around 1901 for Verlag von Martin Gerlach & Co. and simultaneously published in Wien and Leipzig.

Hansel and Gretel was one of 11 stories published in this book but by far the most well-known today.

Franz von Pocci’s Pictures of Hansel and Gretel

Count Franz Pocci (1807-1876) was important man in the court of King Ludwig the First of Bavaria. He was an accomplished artist as well.

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Next set was made by von Pocci in a collaboration with Leopold Vollinger (1818-1844). It’s the longest set of illustrations in this post.

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Did you recognize the scene with Hansel futile attempt to open the door so he could get some pebbles? While the first (black and white drawing above) was made in 1838, this is dated 1878, two years after his death and decades after Vollinger’s death. This means somebody else painted the illustrations, which, by the way are from the reprint published in 1944.

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We don’t have much information abut this work, ending with the end vignette above and will try to add some in the future.

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We concluded the overview of German painters and illustrators who made so many interesting images from the story of Hansel and Gretel.

The same fairy tale fascinated (and still fascinates) people all over the world, so we can expect a lot of non-German artists portraying the scenes from Hansel and Gretel as well.

Charles Robinson’s Take on Hansel and Gretel

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The set of illustrations above was made by Charles Robinson (1870-1937) around 1911.

 

2 thoughts on “Hansel and Gretel – Pictures from the Story

  1. These are great images. How were you able to capture these wonderful images? I am working on translating the Hansel and Gretel story into Ancient Greek and am looking for images in the Public Domain to use. The ones by Pocci and Vollinger and Richard Scholtz are very nice. Do you know how to get better resolution of these? Did you have the books and scanned them? Thank you for your help.

    • Hi, Jonathan. Several public services offer old books as scanned versions: archive.org, hathitrust.org, ufdc.ufl.edu, wikimedia.org, … Sometimes you can find very good scans, and sometimes you are even lucky enough to get ones good enough for a printed book. Authors you mentioned are from German digital libraries. A good starting point for further exploration would be grimmbuilder.fandom.com. I hope this helps. Good luck!

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