Melchior Lechter

Biography

Book designer, trademarks, glass painter. Born 2 October 1865 in Münster. 1879: began apprenticeship as a glass painter with Anton von der Forst, Münster. 1884: began studies in painting at the Berlin Kunstakademie. Influenced by English Pre-Raphaelites and William Morris. 1895: ‘Lechter strove to combine art and craftsmanship and exemplify the Jugendstil ideals. Began his friendship with Stefan George and started working with the circle of artists around George who contributed to the Blätter für die Kunst….The friendship with George steered Lechter to his interest in book illustration.’ (www.getty) 1896: his first exhibition brought him critical success. 1897-1907: ‘Stefan George founded the Blätter für die Kunst for the publication of his own works, and his friend Melchior Lechter illustrated all George’s books…’. (Garvey, 1970) 1897: book decorations for Karl Wolfskehl’s Ulais and George’s Das Jahr der Seele brought him fame as a book designer. 1900: awarded Grand Prix at the Paris World’s Fair for his painted glass windows at the Cologne Kunstgewerbemuseum (Pallenberg Saal). 1909: with the publisher Otto von Holten in Berlin, founded the Einhorn-Presse (first publication: Friedrich Wolter’s Herrschaft und Dienst). 1910-11: traveled in India, Ceylon and Burma which intensified his interest in theosophy and Buddhist mysticism. ‘The five works from his Einhorn-Presse (Unicorn Press 1905-35) stuck to the symbolism of the turn of the century, towering magnificently, though oddly, into an era which was practical, romantic, and individualistic.’ (Schauer, 1966, p. 106) By 1934: member of the Berlin Akademie der Künste, department of fine arts (die bildende Künste). Died 8 October 1937 in Raron, Valais, Switzerland, Switzerland.

Writings by

  • Über die Symbolik im Panis Angelorum, Berlin: Otto von Holten, 1908 (lim. ed.).

Writings about

  • GKS, 1963, pp. 51-3
  • Ludwig Sternaux, ‘Die Einhorn-Presse, Die Bücherstube, 1923, pp. 135-8
  • Horst Stobbe, Einhorn Press bibliography, Die Bücherstube, 1923, p. 180
  • 1910-66: Jean Loubier, ‘Die neue Buchkunst’, in Ludwig Volkmann, Das moderne Buch, Stuttgart: Krais, 1910, pp. 271-300
  • Friedrich Wolters, ‘Melchior Lechter’ in Die Kunst unserer Zeit, 1911, XXII, pp. 1-54 Karl Jacoby, ‘Melchior Lechter und der Kreis der “Blätter für die Kunst”’, Philobiblon, v. 5, 1939, pp. 201-12
  • W.G. Oschilewski, ‘Eugen Diederichs. Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der neuen Deutschen Buchkunst’, Imprimatur, 1939/40, pp. 17-32 plus 4-p. inset
  • Heinrich Jost, ‘Die neue Buchkunst in Deutschland’ (typographic design changes), Imprimatur, 1939/40, pp. 105-28
  • Arthur Rümann, ‘Die deutsche Buchillustration’, Imprimatur, 1939/40, pp. 129-44
  • Curt Tillmann, ‘Die Entwicklung des Buchumschlages’ (bookjackets), Imprimatur, 1939/40, pp. 145-59
  • Vollmer, 1956
  • Roswitha Riegger-Baurmann, ‘Schrift in Jugendstil’, Archiv für Geschichte des Buchwesens, 1958, 1, pp. 790-92
  • Wilhelm H. Lange, ‘Schriftkünstler von heute’, Archiv für Buchgewerbe und Gebrauchsgraphik, Leipzig: Deutsche Buchgewerbeverein., Jan. 1939, pp. 59-70
  • Georg Kurt Schauer, ‘The Art of the Book in Germany…’, in Book Typography 1815-1965, (Kenneth Day, ed.)., London: Ernest Benn, 1966
  • W. Raub, Melchior Lechter als Buchkunstler, Cologne: Greven, 1966 (includes bibliography)
  • Jürgen Wissmann, Melchior Lechter (monograph), Recklinghausen: Bongers, 1966 (includes biography)
  • 1967-present: Eleanor M. Garvey and others, The Turn of a Century, 1885-1910, Cambridge, MA: Houghton Library, 1970
  • Bert Treffers and others, Melchior Lechter der Meister des Buches 1865-1937 (exh. cat.), Amsterdam: Castrum Peregrini, 1987 (early title pages, bibliography)
  • Marguerite Hoffmann, Mein Weg mit Melchior Lechter, Amsterdam: Castrum Peregrini, 1987
  • Günter Heintz, ed., Melchior Lechter und Stefan George: Briefe, Stuttgart: Hauswedell & Co., 1991
  • Herbert Kästner, review of Melchior Lechter und Stefan George: Briefe, Leipziger Jahrbuch zur Buchgeschichte, 1994, p. 384
  • Jürgen Krause, ‘Melchior Lechter and book culture circa 1900’, in Ingrid Ehrhardt and Simon Reynolds (eds.), Kingdom of the Soul/Symbolist art in Germany 1870-1920 (John W. Gabriel, tr.), Munich/London/New York: Prestel, 2000, pp. 285-9 (and illustrations)
  • Hans Peter Willberg, ‘Schrift und Typographie im 20. Jahrhundert’, Gutenberg Jahrbuch, 2000, pp. 257-87
  • Werner Grebe, ‘Der Buchkünstler Melchior Lechter als Gestalter von Exlibris’, Illustration 63, Aug. 2001, pp. 64-6 (inc. photo of ML)
  • Benezit, 2006 (includes auction records, 1997, 2004)
  • www.getty.edu/gri/htmlfindingaids/lechter.
  • Deutsche Biographische Enzyklopädie, Munich, London, New Providence: K.G. Saur 1995- (from 1997: Munich only)., 1997
  • Michael Fehr and Gerhard Storck, Deutsches Museum für Kunst in Handel und Gewerbe 1909-1919 (exh. cat.), Kaiser Wilhelm Museum Krefeld and Karl Ernst Osthaus-Museum der Stadt Hagen, publisher: Snoeck-Ducaju & Zoon, Ghent, 1997., 1997 (see ‘Buchgewerbe’ index)

Exhibitions

  • Fritz Gurlitt Gallery, Berlin, 1896, 1905-6, 1908, 1934
  • Keller and Reiner Gallery, Berlin, 1902, 1903
  • Kunstverein, Leipzig, 1903
  • Königlischen Akademie der Künste, Berlin, 1909-10
  • Landesmuseum, Münster, 1909-10
  • Berlin, 1966
  • Westphalian Landesmuseum, Münster, 1987/8
  • 2000: Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt a.M., Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Prins Eugens Waldemarsudde, Stockholm.