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Belligerents and Participants
in World War One:
The German Empire  pt6


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Robert Hermann Sterl was a noted impressionist painter, and a member of the Dresden Secession. Although much of his work revolved around the landscape, he painted many works of quarrymen, no doubt an interest stemming from his father who was a stonemason. He was made an official war artist during World Ware One; serving on the Western Front in 1915, and in the Dolomites in 1917. Rather than deal with broad issues, he captured intimate moments on his postcards that would have been seen through the eyes of soldiers.

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Georg Stilke had a long career in publishing, starting as a booksellers apprentice in Berlin, and winding up as a publisher of books, magazines, and prints. After his death in 1900, his son Herman Stilke took over the firm and they began producing many more postcards, especially collotype view-cards of Europe and Palestine. Stilke published a series of eleven propaganda card booklets between 1915 to 1917 to counter Allied propaganda during the First World War. The cards within are numbered but not titled; with covers in English, The Great War in pictures and in French, Album de la grande guerre. These rather mundane images are centered around activities in Belgium to show that the German occupation force respected the civilian population, historical monuments, and prisoners of war. While Stilke was based in Berlin, these cards list their office in Brussels.

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Willy Stower was a well known marine artist before World War One. He captured scenes of the German Imperial Navy in ports around the world that began being reproduced as chromolithographs in the 1890’s. In addition to the nearly thousand illustrations made for books, his work appeared on posters, calendars, and on postcards. He produced many military themed cards during the War, and in 1917 some of Stower’s naval scenes were reproduced on a very popular set of charity cards meant to aid wounded U-boat crew members and the families of the deceased. These cards were printed in both monochrome and tricolor.

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Heinrich Striettler was primarily a painter of landscapes and rural life. He also produced a number of lithographs that followed similar themes, though they tend to be more animated. He used his skills in the graphic arts to illustrate military postcards during World War One.

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Kurt Strobmann in Berlin published a set of anonymous artist drawn battle scenes in lithography. They are usually focused on small groups of men in dynamic compositions. While they have the appearance of being made as line drawings with wash, these printed cards are more brightly colored than the typical hand painted card.

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Theodore Stroefer of Nuremberg was an old fine arts publisher that began printing chromolithographic postcards as soon as they became popular. During World War One they were still producing artist drawn military cards in chromolithography, most notably by Franz Schmidt. They also produced a very unique set by the artist Kurzweg who captured many scenes of trench life in his highly graphic style. The same images were published in color and in monochrome.

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B.G. Teubner from Stuttgart had been an early publisher of books since the early 19th century. They began publishing postcards at the turn of the 20th century concentrating on artist signed silhouettes, many of which were printed over solid tints. This trend continued through the Great War, only with an emphasis on military subjects. Rolf Winsler was one of their best known artists.

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Albin Tippmann worked as a painter and illustrator that largely captured rural scenes. His illustrative work had a more narrative edge to it, which eventually grew into satire. During World War One he illustrated military cards for the publisher Fritz Egger in Munich.

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Trautmann & von Seggern of Hamburg published artist signed cards, many leaning toward orientalist themes. During the Great War they produced finely printed cards in chromolithography depicting generic battle scenes. Franz Schmidt was one of their artists.

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Dr. Trenkler & Co. was once one of the largest printers and publishers of lithographic and collotype postcards in Germany. In 1909 they sold off the publishing side of their business but continued to place their name on the cards they printed through World War One. Their turnout remained very large, and a wide variety of card types were produced. Usually it is only their logo that appears on their cards.

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While Hans Hildenbrand is usually referenced as the only official German war photographer working in Autochrome. There are a number of photo-based cards, such as those from Dr. Ttenkler & Co. that seem to be based on Autochromes but no credit is given. Could this be the work of Hilderbrand he published for himself or someone else working unofficially? The color separations made from Autochrome film at this time were far from perfect, and it may have not been too difficult for a highly skilled retoucher to imitate the look by other means.

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Traumann & Seggorn published an outstanding set of charity cards illustrated by Rudolf Schulze depicting Airplanes and Zeppelins. These cards were very popular and they were printed in great numbers.

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ULK was a weekly newspaper founded in Berlin by Rudolf Mosse in 1872. They were noted for their humorous and satirical content, which included cartoons by many well known illustrators. They took up military themes during World War One, and many of these illustrations were then reproduced on postcards.

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Karl Voegels was a Berlin publisher that produced many photo-based and artist drawn military cards during World War One. Perhaps his most notable cards are the large monochrome set drawn by C. Schaller of Weimar. These energetic scenes of battle were sometimes hand colored.

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Heinrich Vogeler was a prominent symbolist painter and illustrator heavily influenced by Art Nouveau. His style grew more out of fashion after the turn of the century, and by 1908 he was concentrating on applied design through the Worpsweder Werkstätten, which he founded. He volunteered when the Great War broke out was deployed on the Eastern Front in 1915, but his service was cut short after writing a letter to the Kaiser calling for peace. The sketches of military life he made there are much more representational than his earlier work. Some of these pieces were placed on postcards After being confined to a mental institution in his hometown of Bremen, he was discharged from the military. He joined the German Communist Party after the War, dedicating himself to pacifism.

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Ernst Vollbehr was a world traveler who painted landscapes of Africa, Asia, and North and South America. During World War One he became an Army staff painter for the Crown Prince, and produced about 1,200 images of the Western Front. They were rather matter of fact, neither glorifying war nor representing its horrors. Many of these images were used to illustrate postcards, and they were later published in book form with his journals from these years. He returned to working as a war artist during World War Two depicting scenes on both the Eastern and Western Fronts.

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Paul Hermann Wagner already had a long career as a painter and illustrator when the Great War broke out. Most of his work revolved around images of children, often placed in outdoor settings. He continued to paint children in his academic style during the war years, but his tendency toward sentimentality shifted to express more patriotic themes. Children became surrogates for adults in these narratives that usually displayed great hatred for the enemy. A number of these images were placed on postcards by the Nuremberg publisher, Theodore Stroefer.

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J.J. Weber in Leipzig, founded by Johann Jacob Weber in 1834 was one of Germany’s most prestigious publishers. In addition to producing fine illustrated books, Weber along with Carl Berendt Lorck founded the first illustrated weekly newspaper in Germany, Illustrirte Zeltung. By World War One his son, Dr. Felix Weber was running the firm, and they produced a number of fieldpost cards reproducing drawings by soldiers.

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Willy Mura Wehrmann illustrated many postcards for Richard Heutel in Munich. His work is characterized by simple close compositions of combat just containing a few figures that were painted with an economy of strokes. The generic quality of his scenery combined with the strong gestures of his figures often gives the impression of a stage setting.

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N.L. Weill of Metz was typical of many small publishers that were located near the battlefront. Early in the War he produced a number of cards depicting local scenes ravaged by the conflict that were no doubt popular among both civilians and the many solders passing through the area.His cards were printed by Frederich Bruckmann.

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Though Brynoff Wennerberg was a Swede and studied art in Stockholm, he would move to Munich and become a German citizen in 1912. His early work in painting and graphics was heavily influenced by Jugendstil, and often bordered on the risqué; but as time went on his work grew tamer. He contributed many illustrations to magazines, but he is best known for, In the Homeland, a set of propaganda images issued as a portfolio of prints and then as postcards in 1915. They offered a romanticized view of how German civilians supported their fighting men. These light hearted cards were very popular and were reprinted throughout World War One, not just out of patriotism but for their attractive female figures modeled after his daughters.

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The artist H. Wenng produced a number of propaganda cards during the great war for the publisher and printer Wahler & Schwarz in Stuttgart. These dealt with themes of unity and the heroics of battles, though they were drawn in a generic cartoonish style. These cards were often printed in a limited palette confined to German national colors.

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Arnold Weylandt was an important art printing house in Berlin. During World War One they produced boldly designed posters and artist drawn charity cards in lithography.

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Wezel & Naumann from Leipzig were early publishers and printers of lithographic goods. During the War the produced a very large set of cards depicting battles from all fronts in a very cartoonish style. Though most were printed in color lithography meant to imitate hand coloring, some cards with the same images were issued in black & white. These cards often have long narratives placed on their backs that were sometimes accompanied by situation maps or monochrome portraits of generals. Some of these images were also printed with fieldpost backs.

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The publisher, Hermann A. Wiechmann of Munich was a pioneer in the rotogravure process in his attempts to produce high quality reproductions. By World War One he was producing a wide variety of propaganda postcards, some by notable illustrators. The firm later became known for being one of the first to publish a biography of Adolf Hitler, just after his failed Bear Hall Putsch in 1923.

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Germany had a long tradition of placing silhouettes onto postcards, and the War years were no different. While silhouette cards were published in a number of counties they seem most prevalent from Germany. Otto Wiedemann who made cards for Herman A, Peters in Bonn, may be the best known.

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Martin Wiegand’s interest in fantasy dates back to the 19th century, and is evident in his porcelain figurines and illustrations of gnomes. He painted scenes of knights from Parsifal back in the 1880’s, and was still using the theme of the knight on the propaganda postcards he illustrated during World War One for Hermann & Weissmann. While these images seem overtly patriotic and nationalistic, they were also highly symbolic as there is no divorcing the image of the knight from that of a Christian warrior.

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The art publisher Wohlgemuth & Lissner of Berlin were well known for their etchings and woodblock prints that they commissioned from many notable artists. They also used a number of fine illustrators to create artist signed postcards and continued this trend into World War One. They are known to have taken the stock of a number of Raphael Tuck Oilettes that were illustrated by popular German artists before the War and overprinted their name on the back.

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Hermann Wolff of Berlin published a number of artist drawn postcards in black & white and sepia that depict many of the War’s early battles from the fields of Flanders to the Vosges Mountains and out to Poland. While some depict specific events others only show generic scenes of combat. Though drawn by more than one artist, they all share a sketchy appearance that gives these cards the immediacy of an onsite account. This firm also produced sentimental cards in color with popular military themes.

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Fritz Zalisz was a Bavarian painter and sculpture based in Holzhousen. He interrupted his studies in the spring of 1915 to become a war artist assigned to the 58th Infantry Division. He saw action at some of the largest battles of the Great War on both the Western and Eastern Fronts. His very expressive sketches of German soldiers were placed on fieldpost cards by Dr. Trenkler & Co.

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Ottmar Zieher of Munich had been a huge publisher of chromolithographic postcards since the 1890’s. During the Great war he produced cards in a variety of techniques covering many aspects of the conflict. Many of these cards were generic and patriotic in nature.

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Ernst Zimmer already had a long career as an academic landscape painter when the Great War broke out. His long interest in historical subjects led him to create a number of military themed pieces ranging from studies of individual soldiers to raging battle scenes. A number of these images were used on postcards.




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