Sulamith Wulfing - signature
the making.!

Sulamith Wulfing - The Little MermaidSulamith Wulfing - Die Kleine SeejungfrauIn 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.

Sulamith Wulfing - Band XII (About the Child)

Sulamith Wulfing - Band XII: Vom Kind (About the Child)The 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

As I acquire more of these early books, and sell those that duplicate what I already have, I continue to learn more about them and their printing histories. For instance, did you know that some titles had different plates and different numbers of plates and some were even given new titles over the years? A complete bibliography is definitely needed. To that end, I'm posting a detailed list of those that I have and their contents. I invite you to me your contributions and any information on variant editions.

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:

My drawings are a visual representation of my deepest feelings - pleasure, fear, sorrow, happiness, humor. And, to people attuned to my compositions, they may well be mirrors of their own experiences.

It is because of this that I have left the explanation of the drawings completely to the viewer, so that they are not bound by my interpretation of what each picture should be.

For me it is not a matter of creating illustrations to fit nursery rhyme themes. My ideas come to me from many sources, and in such harmony with my personal experiences that I can turn them into these fairy compositions.

My Angels are my consolers, leaders, companions, guards. And dwarfs often show me the small ironies and other things to make me smile even in life's most awesome events.

Sulamith Wülfing

Sulamith Wulfing - The Dragonride
"Der Drachenritt"

Sulamith Wulfing - Nach Ist Mie Ein Stilles Meer
"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.


To find out more about Sulamith Wulfing, see:

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.

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