In 1997, Bluestar Communications issued a new edition of The Little Mermaid illustrated by Sulamith Wülfing. In doing so, they introduced a new generation to the remarkable art of this special lady. The cover to their edition is at left. At the right is Die Kleine Seejungfrau, the original from 1953. The print run was all of 3000 copies. It was Band XX, her 20th book .
Twenty years prior in 1977, Peacock Press/Bantam Books had introduced me to her work and made me a fan for life. Most of what I know about her was taken from the introduction to that book.
She was born in Germany in 1901 and raised by very spiritual
parents (her father was a Theosophist). The artist within her
burst forth at the age of four. She had a very definite and personal
style firmly developed before she received her first formal training
at the Art College in Wuppertal. Graduating in 1921, she spent
the next decade painting her vision of the world. When she married
in 1932, she and her husband started a company to print and distribute
her work. It was in existence until his death in 1976.
term "vanity press" could easily be applied to the many
books they published. I prefer "self publishing." During
the Thirties, a series of softbound, square backed albums with
plain spines and simple cover designs poured forth at the rate
of about one per year. What little text was present, usually just
titles, was in German. The production values, though, were top-notch.
The color plates were beautifully reproduced and tipped-in, usually
with a tissue guard to protect them. The black and white plates
were also tipped-in and the reproduction matched anything being
published at the time. The images at left and above are from Band
XII: Vom Kind, About the Child (thanks to Brigitte
Botnick for the refined translation) and are titled "The
Jumping Jack" (above) and "Evening Moon"
(left), thanks to that same translation sheet. The book was originally
issued in an edition of 2000.
At right is "Der Drachenritt" (The Dragonride) from Die Truhe (The Chest) from 1935. Another early image in color below is from Der Mond Ist Aufgegangen (The Moon has Risen - thanks to Karin and Hardo and Brigitte Botnick for the translation), which is Band V and was in its fifth printing in 1935. Although World War II disrupted her life, destroyed her home and much of her art, she continued to produce her very personal paintings and drawings.A Wülfing Bibliography
Her husband, Otto Schulze, Jr., started the Sulamith Wülfing Verlag (publishing house) and promoted her art via postcards and calendars in addition to the albums, yet those fond of her work were forced to "discover" her one by one - often from an exhibition of her work or a postcard or calendar seen from a friend. There was never a massive media campaign to tell the world about her art, nor was she ever the collector's darling like Berta Hummel. This isolation and dedication to her vision has produced a most singular and focused body of work. Few illustrators and artists have been unsullied by the demands of editors and publishers and few so supported by family and fans. The Fantastic Art of Sulamith Wulfing is the title of the 1978 book and it is quite fitting. Her art is quite fantastical, yet it has a calmness and serenity seldom found in illustrative art.
In 1974 she published Band XXV: Das Album. It was a book about her, with photos and a history of her family and her art. Fittingly, it had the same tan, softbound, unassuming covers as her other 24 books. In 1992, Sulamith Wulfing B Vertag finally put out a massive collection of her work along with a detailed biography. Simply titled Sulamith Wülfing, it presents hundreds of her drawings in color and lots of b&w, with many candid photographs from all segments of her life. I just finished reading it and she lived a most remarkable life.At the end of the introductory essay in Fantastic Art, Sulamith wrote the following personal statement:
"Nacht Ist Wie Ein Stilles Meer"
"Night is like the silent sea"
She died in 1989. Her son, also Otto Schulze, Jr., is keeping her memory alive with projects like The Little Mermaid.
|Das Album||Wulfing, 1974|
|The Fantastic Art of Sulamith Wülfing||David Larkin, Editor; 1977 Peacock Press/Bantam Books|
|Sulamith Wülfing||Marlene Maurhoff, 1992 Sulamith Wülfing B Verlag|
|The Vadeboncoeur Collection of Knowledge||Jim Vadeboncoeur, Jr., 1999|
|Bibliography of Sulamith Wülfing - a work in progress||
Jim Vadeboncoeur, Jr., 2002 -
please me with additions and corrections.
Illustrations copyright by their respective owners.
This page written, designed & © 1998 by Jim Vadeboncoeur, Jr. Updated 2011.