Fritz Wegner Archive
Fables, Fantasies and Fairy Tales
Fritz Wegner was born in Vienna on 15th September 1924. His early life in this beautiful city was happy, but under the Nazis ruling it became too dangerous for Jewish families, so in 1938, Wegner; aged 14, joined his father in London. However, despite this turmoil, young Fritz Wegner quickly adapted to his new surroundings and embraced the opportunities that London had to offer.
During his time at St. Martin's School of Art, Wegner's talent for drawing and lettering flourished under the guidance of George Mansell, a renowned designer. Wegner was invited to live with Mansell and his wife, enabling him to further develop his lettering skills by working in Mansell's studio. Wegner's expertise in lettering led to him being commissioned to design book jackets for publishers like Hamish Hamilton. He had the opportunity to create jackets for notable authors such as Dorothy L. Sayers and J.D. Salinger, including the iconic cover for Salinger's novel "Catcher in the Rye" in 1951. During the war, Wegner served on the land, which inspired him to create drawings that were subsequently published in farming magazines. This allowed Wegner to showcase his artistic abilities and reach a wider audience with his work.
Wegner, worked for a wide range of publishers in the UK and the USA, including Penguin and Walker Books, illustrating many children's books and in recent years working extensively with Allan Ahlberg. Other books include Fattypuffs and Thinifers by Andre Maurois and The Wicked Tricks of Till Owlyglass by Michael Rosen. His last book in 1999, was The Tale of the Turnip by Brian Alderson. He also designed a number of postage stamps, including one year the Christmas stamps. Wegner spent twenty-five years teaching at St. Martin's School of Art, and made many friends among the students, as he did among publishers and authors, and other illustrators.
Wegner resided in an1850s four-storey house located in the historic town of Highgate, North London. Until his eighties he worked well into the night in his first-floor studio. Despite his age, Wegner remained incredibly productive and passionate about his work. His dedication to his craft and the long hours spent in his studio were a testament to his commitment to creating beautiful and impactful illustrations.
The Highgate house was not just a place to live but a sanctuary for his creativity. The home reflected his aesthetic sensibilities, with carefully curated decor that complemented his fascinations. He was an avid collector and had amassed a large collection of various items of curiosities such as carvings, china, books, masks, etchings, prints, and paintings. The entire house, including his studio, was filled with beautiful oddities. It was a space where he could find respite and solitude, allowing him to focus on his artistic pursuits.
Unfortunately, Wegner passed away on March 15th, 2015, at his home. He is survived by his wife, Janet, two sons, a daughter, and nine grandchildren.
The volume being described in the passage contains illustrations that have been scanned from around 3,000 original pieces. These originals date back from the 1940s to the 2000s, and they were stored in folders in the artist's studio.
Texts by Janet Barber and Nicholas James
Artworks copyright © The Estate of Fritz Wegner All rights reserved 2024
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