BECHSTEIN, Ludwig (Meiningen 1843 – 1914 Munich) – Der Bierwagen kommt. Original watercolor drawing. 1893. Sheet: c.310 x 400mm.

Ludwig Bechstein was the son of the successful German author Ludwig Bechstein (1801-1860), who is mostly known for his German Fairy-Tale Book (1845). The present drawings were made for the successful German children’s book Der Gesangverein Brüllaria und sein Stiftungsfest by Rudolf Baumbach (1840-1905) which was first published in 1893 in Munich. The protagonists in the book are all animals of the field and forest. They celebrate the anniversary of the founding of their singing club Brüllaria. Whether bird, hedgehog, frog or cat, everyone gives a song to celebrate the day. The illustrations, in the tradition of Kaulbach and Grandville, show the festivities from the fairground to the grand final concert. Bechstein illustrated the book with 15 plates, 8 of which are available here, as well as the cover illustration. The drawings are titled Titelblatt, Festconzert, Ehrenpforte, Generalprobe, Der Bierwagen kommt, Einzug der Gäste, Kellerfest, Die Waldcantate and Die Hyänen des Schlachtfeldes.

Bechstein was an illustrator of children’s books, but also provided numerous drawings for the humor and satire magazine Fliegende Blätter. His first works were the illustrations for his brother Reinhold’s (1833-1894) fairytale book Altdeutsche Märchen, Sagen und Legenden (1863), followed by illustrations for several stories in the Münchner Bilderbogen collection. Bechstein’s present series of illustrations became his most famous work and is being reprinted to this day.

Bibliography (for the printed book): Hans Ries – Illustration und Illustratoren des Kinder- und Jugendbuchs im deutschsprachigen Raum 1871-1914. Osnabrück, 1992. p. 417, 22; Adolf Seebass – Alte Kinderbücher und Jugendschriften. Basel, 1954. p. 138 (2nd ed.); Heinz Wegehaupt – Alte deutsche Kinderbücher. Vol. 3, p. 202 (3rd ed.)