Gotthard de Beauclair


Typographer, book designer, publisher, poet. Born 24 July 1907 in Ascona, Switzerland; his parents both painters. Lived in Darmstadt from 1920. His uncle was Christian Heinrich Kleukens who brought him to the attention of Rudolf Koch at Offenbach a.M. 1923-5: while attending the Werkkunstschule, de Beauclair apprenticed as compositor (April 1923-April 1926) in Koch’s famed workshop, then became one of Koch’s assistants while continuing his apprenticeship as compositor (1925-8) at the nearby Gebr. Klingspor typefoundry. 1928: Beauclair moved to Leipzig where he worked briefly for Ernst Kellner at the Offizin Haag-Drugulin. 1928-45: editor and artistic director of Insel-Verlag under Anton Kippenberg, responsible for the high standards of the enormous Insel output.

‘When the end of the war finally came and the Americans had entered Leipzig, which had been destroyed by heavy bombing, a few publishing houses were able to move to West Germany, thanks mainly to the assistance of the American arts officer [Kulturoffizier] Dr Lehmann-Haupt [Professor of Book Arts, Columbia University]. Kippenberg wanted Beauclair to remain but when Kippenberg moved to Marburg and it became clear that the Russians would soon be taking over, Beauclair decided to leave for the West. In summer 1945 he fled across the so-called Green Line, leaving behind all his possessions in the Teutoburger Forest.’ (Greisner, 1988, pp. 247-8)

‘The year is 1945, Germany defeated, Leipzig largely destroyed, the great edifice of the German book trade in a state of chaos and dissolution. Beauclair escapes into the British Zone with a single suitcase. He recounts with deep emotion and humility how, while he was still completely stunned and starving and ill, the first sign of an old friendship was a food parcel from his one-time fellow-student Henri Friedländer, who had undergone even worse sufferings in German-occupied Holland.’ (Schmoller, 1961)

1946: went to West Germany, working as book designer at Scherpe-Verlag, Krefeld. From 1951: artistic director of the D. Stempel AG typefoundry, Frankfurt am Main, and, in the same year founded the Trajanus-Presse (1951-68), the firm’s in-house private press, of which he was the first director. During Beauclair’s time at Stempel, the foundry issued many great types such as Hermann Zapf’s Palatino, Aldus and Optima, and Jan Tschichold’s Sabon. 1951-62: typographical director, later publishing director, of Insel Verlag, Wiesbaden, and (later) at Frankfurt. 1959: left Stempel to devote more time to Insel but continued to work until 1968 on Trajanus-Presse books. April 1962: founded Verlag Ars librorum Gotthard de Beauclair to publish fine editions. Freelance work for the publishers Propyläen and Büchergilde Gutenberg, Frankfurt. 1966: founded Edition de Beauclair to produce original prints. From 1972: lived in south of France. Awarded Gold medal, Paris International Exhibition, 1937; Milan Triennale, 1954; International Award, Ipex, London, 1963; Gold medal, International Book Arts Exhibition, Leipzig, 1965. Died 31 March 1992 in Freiburg.

‘…Beauclair is an outstanding master of the literary and graphic mise en scène … .Combining common sense, quiet good taste…, with an immense knowledge of all typographical and production disciplines, he designs books which seem to present the inevitable solution of each problem.’ (Schmoller, 1961) ‘When the history of our century and also the history of the book arts comes to be written…two names are sure to be included: Jan Tschichold, creative typographer, and Gotthard de Beauclair, the unequalled director of books of perfection.’ (G. Ramseger, 1992)

Writings by

  • Zeit. Überzeit. Versnoten und Bildgedichte, 1976
  • Gedanken zum Ende der Ära Gutenberg, Frankfurt a.M.: Trajanus, 1977
  • 1932-59: In uns die Welt, Chemnitz: Die Gesellschaft der Bücherfreunde, 1932
  • es singt in istrien nun, 1932 (pvt. ptd.)
  • Land. Ein Gedicht, Werkstätten der Stadt Halle, 1933 (2 nd ed. 1937)
  • Phoenix, Werkstätten der Stadt Halle, 1934
  • Kleine Lese. Gedichte, Werkstätten der Stadt Halle, 1934
  • Spuren im Sand, Werkstätten der Stadt Halle, 1934
  • Orion oder Der Erwachende, Werkstätten der Stadt Halle, 1934
  • Verse, Werkstätten der Stadt Halle, c1934
  • ‘Verlorenheit’ (poem), Festschrift des Bücherwurms, Markkleeberg-Leipzig: Karl Rauch, 1939, p. 62
  • In memoriam. Dem unbekannten Soldaten, Dessau: Rauch, 1942
  • Auch das Vergessene lebt, Werkstätten der Stadt Halle, 1944
  • Das verborgene Heil, Krefeld: Scherpe, 1946
  • Das Buch Sesam, Gesellschaft der Bibliophilen, 1951
  • ‘Anmerkungen zum Thema Buchtypographie’, Imprimatur, 1954/5, pp. 149-50
  • Walter Amstutz (ed.), Who’s Who in Graphic Art, Zurich: Amstutz & Herdeg Graphis Press, 1962. , 1962
  • Sinnend auf Stufen der Zeit (reflections), Heidelberg: Schneider, 1957
  • 1960-present: ‘Some remarks concerning book typography’ in Gotthard de Beauclair (exh. cat.), London, 1961
  • Philobiblon, May 1965, pp. 110-12
  • Wurzel Siebenmal, Frankfurt a.M.: Werkstätten der Trajanus Presse, 1980
  • Alles meint Anfang, Heiderhoff, 1987
  • Von Staub eine Fackel. Gedichte aus vergessener Welt, Hamburg: Maximillian-Gesellschaft, 1987
  • Ludwig Oehms, Schwarze Kunst Farbig/Die Druckerei Oehms, Amorbach im Odenwald: Hermann Emig, 1989, esp. pp. 40-44
  • ‘Vom schonen Buch als Geistgewand’, introduction in Bertold Hack and Herta Schwarz, Otto Rohse und seine Presse, Hamburg: Maximilian-Gesellschaft, 1992
  • ‘Gedanken zum Ende der Ära Gutenberg’, Philobiblon, March 1995, pp. 26-8 (from the 1977 publication published by Verlag Wolfgang Tiessen)
  • Ausgewählte Gedichte, 1998.
  • ‘Erwin Poell’ (Mannheim designer), Gebrauchsgraphik (International Advertising Art), Berlin: Phönix Illustrationsdruck und Verlag GmbH (later: ‘Gebrauchsgraphik’ Druck und Verlag GmbH), 1933-71. Published from Munich from 1950., May 1957, pp. 12-21

Writings about

  • Modern German Book Design , 1959
  • 1953-60: Georg Kurt Schauer, ‘An Wassern geschrieben. Ein Hinweis auf Gotthard de Beauclair Das Buch Sesam’, in Das Antiquariat, V. 1, 1953
  • ‘Sechzig Jahre im Dienste der Lettern’ (Stempel), Form und Technik, Feb. 1955, p. 79
  • G. K. Schauer, ‘Gedenken, Gruss und Dank’, Imprimatur, 1956/7, pp. 201-2
  • Liber Librorum project, Form und Technik, 1956, pp. 389-404
  • Erhard Göpel, ‘Gotthard de Beauclair/Dichter und Buchgestalter’, Philobiblon, May 1957, pp. 104-18 (plus 8-page supplement) (includes bibliography of GdB’s books, 1929-57)
  • Erhard Göpel, ‘Dienst an Wort und Schrift’ (50th birthday), Der Druckspiegel, Aug. 1957, pp. 415-22, with 20-page supplement ‘Gotthard de Beauclair – Aus der Werkstatt eines Buchgestalters’
  • Der Polygraph, 5 Aug. 1957, p. 639 (50th birthday)
  • G.K. Schauer, ‘Der Schweizer Illustrator Felix Hoffmann und die Trajanus-Presse’, Philobiblon, IV, 1960, pp. 21-33
  • 1961-69: Hans Schmoller, ‘Gotthard de Beauclair. A German Book Designer’, Gotthard de Beauclair: Modern German Book Design (exh. cat.), London, 1961 (introduction to cat. of travelling exh.)
  • ‘Gotthard de Beauclair, Notes on an exhibition’, Book Design and Production, v. 4, no. 4, 1961, pp. 248-53 Bent Rohde, ‘Deutsche Buchkunst in Kopenhagen’ (GdB’s exh.), Börsenblatt für den Deutschen Buchhandel, no. 13, 1961
  • GKS, 1962
  • GKS, 1963, pp. 163, 249-50
  • G.K. Schauer, ‘Stuttgarter Bibeltypografie’ (Liber Librorum project), Der Druckspiegel, June 1964, pp. 361-78
  • Paul Appel, ‘Reine Gedichte als heilendes Medium. Zum lyrischen Schaffen Gotthard de Beauclairs’, Darmstädter Tagblatt, 3 October 1964
  • ‘Gotthard de Beauclair sechzig Jahre alt’, Form und Technik, 1967, p. 538
  • Adolf Meuer, ‘Der “bibliophile Lustgarten” des Gotthard de Beauclair’, Weltkunst, 1967, V. 17 G.K. Schauer, ‘Die Pressendrucke Gotthard de Beauclairs’, Illustration 63, V. 3, 1968 G.K. Schauer, ‘Diesseits und jenseits des Buches. Gotthard de Beauclair’, Imprimatur, Band VI, 1969, pp. 224-39, plus 4-page inset (repr. in GKS, Von den Herbergen des Geistes, Krefeld: Scherpe, 1976) Wolfgang Tiessen, ‘Bibliographie Gotthard de Beauclair’, Imprimatur, Band VI, 1969, pp. 240-46 (includes bibliographies of Trajanus-Presse, Ars librorum, Edition de Beauclair and GdB’s poetry output)
  • 1970-92: GKS, 1976
  • Ernst-Erwin Klug, ‘Gotthard de Beauclair, Diener der Musen’ (70 th birthday), Illustration 63, Aug. 1977, pp. 39-41
  • Joseph A. Kruse, ed., Gotthard de Beauclair, Lyriker, Buchgestalter, Verleger, Düsseldorf: Heinrich-Heine-Inst., 1977 (with bibliography, 1951-77)
  • GKS, 1978
  • G.K. Schauer, ‘Gegenwart und Zukunft unserer Buchkultur’, Philobiblon, March 1978, pp. 6-18, esp. pp. 16-17
  • Marietta Kleiss, ‘Gotthard de Beauclair im Klingspor-Museum’, Aus dem Antiquariat, 1982, 7, pp. A264-7
  • Weil Form nur fasst…, Hommage à Beauclair, Aachen, 1985
  • Jerry Kelly with Margaret L. Ford, ‘Gotthard de Beauclair’, in ‘Drei Deutsche Buchkünstler’, Fine Print, April 1986, pp. 80, 83-4
  • Walter Wilkes, ‘Handpressendruck in Deutschland im 20. Jahrhundert’, Imprimatur, Band XII, 1987, pp. 11-19
  • Walter Greisner, ‘Gotthard de Beauclair, Buchgestalter und Verleger’ (speech at the opening of the Deutsche Bibliothek, Frankfurt a.M., exh., 1987), Gutenberg Jahrbuch, 1988, pp. 244-8
  • ‘Aus dem Werkverzeichnis von Gotthard de Beauclair’, Gutenberg Jahrbuch, 1988, pp. 249-50 (bibliography of the Trajanus-Presse and Die Ars-librorum-Drucke, as Kruse, 1977, above)
  • Herbert Kästner, ‘Buchillustration im Insel-Verlag 1899-1930’, Aus dem Antiquariat, 1990, 5, pp. A181-98
  • G. Ramseger, ‘Generalintendant des vollkommenen Buches’, Börsenblatt für den Deutschen Buchhandel, 1992
  • G. Scheffler, ‘Gotthard de Beauclair. In memorian’, Insel-Bücherei Mitteilungen für Freunde, no. 6, 1992
  • German Fine Printing (exh. checklist), New York: Grolier Club/Typophiles, 1992
  • 1993-present: Patrick Fox, ‘Patterned papers in the Insel-Bücherei’, The Penguin Collector, Henley-on-Thames: Penguin Collectors’ Society, June 1994, pp. 6-15
  • P. Fox, ‘Patterned papers in the Insel-Bücherei’, Matrix 14, Risbury, Herefordshire: Whittington, Winter 1994, pp. 178-87 plus tip-in
  • Kurt Londenberg, ‘Bilder einer Freundschaft. Gotthard de Beauclair zum Gedenken’, Philobiblon, March 1995, pp. 6-25 (excellent biography)
  • Wolfgang Tiessen, ‘Mein Weg in die Welt der Bücher’, Philobiblon, Dec. 1995, pp. 295-304
  • W. Tiessen, ‘The compositor as publisher, Matrix 15, 1995, pp. 63-72, plus supplement
  • Allgemeines Künstlerlexikon, Munich/Leipzig: K.G. Saur Verlag, 1990-., 1992
  • Gert Fischer and Heinz Richter (eds.), Gotthard de Beauclair. Buchgestalter, Lyriker, Verleger (exh. cat.), Siegburg: Rheinlandia Verlag Klaus Walterscheid, 1996
  • Gotthard de Beauclair. Leben und Werk 1907-1992, Siegburg: Rheinlandia Verlag/Klaus Walterscheid, 1997 (includes bibliography)
  • review of Gotthard de Beauclair: Buchgestalter, Lyriker, Verleger, TM, 1998, 2, p. 17
  • Jerry Kelly, Gotthard de Beauclair (exh. cat.
  • intro . by Hermann Zapf), New York, NY: Grolier Club, 2006.
  • Friedrich Friedl, Nicolaus Ott, Bernard Stein, Typography – when/who/how, Cologne: Könemann Verlagsgesellschaft mbH, 1998., 1998


  • Zurich, 1954
  • Copenhagen, Stockholm, Oslo, 1960, Helsinki, London, 1961 (travelling exh.)
  • Baden-Baden, 1966
  • Frankfurt a.M., 1967
  • Heidelberg, 1969
  • New York, 1969
  • Zurich, 1971
  • Univ. Library, Heidelberg, 1972
  • Bern, 1974
  • Munich, 1975
  • Bücherstube am Theater, Bonn, 1977
  • Gutenberg Museum, Mainz, 1978
  • Klingspor Museum, Offenbach a.M., 1982
  • Munich, 1986
  • Deutsche Bibliothek, Frankfurt a.M., 1987
  • Grolier Club, New York, Dec. 1991-March 1992 (group)
  • Stadtmuseum, Siegburg, 1997, then to Deutsche Bücherei, Leipzig, Nov. 1997-Feb. 1998 and to Universitätsbibliothek, Heidelberg, 1998
  • Haus der Deutschen Bibliothek, 1998
  • Klingspor Museum, Offenbach, 1999
  • Grolier Club, New York, Nov. 2006-Jan. 2007.


  • Klingspor Museum, Offenbach a.M. (Trajanus-Presse, Ars librorum Verlag).