Walter Trier


Book illustrator, cartoonist, publicity, collector of toys. Jewish. Born 25 June 1890 in Prague. 1905-9: studied art in Prague at the Kunstgewerbeschule and the Akademie. 1909-?: studied at the Munich Akademie; a teacher was Franz von Stuck. First designs (in the style of Bruno Paul and Thomas Theodor Heine) published in the satirical journals Simplicissimus (1909) and Jugend (1910). 1910: moved to Berlin; worked for Berlin publishers, particularly Ullstein: Lustige Blätter, Berliner Illustrirte Zeitung. Early interest in toys and political caricatures. 1912: first book entirely illustrated by WT: Felix Schloemp, Der lachende Erdball (Laughing World), Munich/Leipzig. 1925: Member of the Berliner Secession. Early 1920s: designed stage sets and costumes for Max Reinhardt’s theatre, painted murals and illustrated covers for the journals Uhu and Die Dame, and numerous books for children, especially those of Erich Kästner (15 in total from 1929 to 1951 including Emil und die Detektive, 1929, and Das verhexte Telefon, 1931), whom he had met in 1927, and whose books were publicly burned by the Nazis in 1933.

Before 1933, Trier’s enchanting music-hall frescoes delighted the patrons of the Kabarett der Komiker on Kurfürstendamm in Berlin. His orchestra made music without any instruments – the clarinettist was playing his own nose – and flamingos formed the high-kicking chorus line…

‘But Hitler invaded the Kabarett der Komiker. One day, workmen came and scraped this joyful beauty off the walls. Another artist, of proper racial ancestry, was willing to disseminate with his brush another kind of cheerfulness, this time of the state-approved variety…’. (Kästner, Humorist Walter Trier, p. 42)

July 1935: last drawing for Lustige Blätter; contract terminated. 1935-6: with his family he spent about a year in Spain but returned to Berlin shortly before the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War. December 1936: emigrated with wife and daughter to London; first designs were title cartoons for the Pinewood film studio. 1937-49: designed over 150 covers for the journal Lilliput (which brought him fame). March 1941-June 1945: political cartoonist for the British Ministry of Information’s German-language weekly Die Zeitung. 1944-7: illustrated John Betjeman’s book column in the Daily Herald. February 1947: he and his wife became British subjects. August 1947: emigrated to Toronto, Canada (where a married daughter lived; he again took all his toys) and, for the third time, had to restart his career – which he quickly re-established, designing posters and labels for numerous commercial firms; he died at Collingwood on 8 (or 11) July 1951 at the age of 61. He had earlier told Kästner , ‘Over my grave should be this epitaph: “Just when I was starting.”’

Writings by

  • Panoptikum, Berlin: Selle-Eysler, 1922
  • Toys (‘described’ by O. Seyffert ), London: Unwin, 1923
  • Kleines Trierparadies, Zurich, 1955
  • ‘Walter Trier on Himself’, in Humorist Walter Trier ( exh . cat.
  • see below), Toronto: Art Gallery of Toronto, 1980 (originally in WT’s Panoptikum, 1922).

Writings about

  • Joachim Wirth, Walter Trier, Zurich: Sanssouci, 1955
  • Vollmer, 1958 (bibliography)
  • Erich Kästner (foreword), Heiteres von Walter Trier, Hannover: Fackelträger, 1959
  • 1923-59: ‘Eine Spielzeugsammlung: Im Besitz des Malers Walter Trier’, Die Dame, Dec. 1923, pp. 9-10
  • Hans Kapfinger, ‘Die Karikatur im Dienst der Werbung’, Die Reklame, Sept. (2), 1925, pp. 1004-5
  • Tom Hopkinson, ‘Trier and his toys’, Picture Post, 20 December 1947
  • Canadian Art, 1948, 6, p. 7 (placard) Georgine Oeri, ‘Walter Trier’ (Lilliput covers), Graphis, 1948, 4, pp. 128-31 L. Fritz Gruber, ‘Christmas and New Year’s cards’, Graphis 32, 1950, pp. 330-47 Graphis 37, 1951, p. 380 (obituary) George Englesmith, ‘Walter Trier – In memoriam’, Canadian Art, 1951, 9, pp. 14-16 Clair Stewart, ‘Trier. Last works’, Graphis 41, 1952, pp. 232-5, 269
  • H.K. Frenzel, ‘Walter Trier’, Gebrauchsgraphik (International Advertising Art), Berlin: Phönix Illustrationsdruck und Verlag GmbH (later: ‘Gebrauchsgraphik’ Druck und Verlag GmbH), 1933-71. Published from Munich from 1950., Feb. 1931, pp. 2-16
  • Fritz Volquard Arnold, ‘Walter Trier’ (obituary), Gebrauchsgraphik (International Advertising Art), Berlin: Phönix Illustrationsdruck und Verlag GmbH (later: ‘Gebrauchsgraphik’ Druck und Verlag GmbH), 1933-71. Published from Munich from 1950., Aug. 1951, p. 62
  • 1960-present: Lothar Lang, ‘Walter Trier als Illustrator’, Marginalien, 1970, v. 40, pp. 6-17 (includes bibliography of illustrated books, 1912-51) corrections to the ‘Trier bibliography’, Marginalien, 1971, v. 42, p. 75 (refers to Marginalien, 1970)
  • L. Lang, Walter Trier, Munich: Rogner & Bernhard, 1971
  • L. Lang, Das grosse Trier-Buch, Zurich/Berlin: Atrium, 1972 (2 nd ed., Zurich/Munich: 1974)
  • Marta H. Hurdalek, Humorist Walter Trier ( exh . cat.), Toronto: Art Gallery of Toronto, 1980 (includes books illustrated by WT, 1912-75
  • bibliography
  • Erich Kästner, ‘Walter Trier: an appreciation’)
  • Herbert H. Wagner, ‘“Er sah die Welt und lächelte sie sich zurecht.”’, Aus dem Antiquariat, 1984, 2, pp. A63-6
  • JH/PP, 1989
  • Artje Neuner-Warthorst, ‘“Da bin ich wieder!”, Walter Trier. Die Berliner Jahre’, Museums pädagogischen Dienstes der Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, 1999
  • note of Kästner/Trier’s Münchhausen (Zurich: Atrium), in Illustration 63, Aug. 2001, p. 79
  • A. Neuner-Warthorst, ‘Pressegraphik, Buchillustration und Reklame: Der vergessene Walter Trier’, Aus dem Antiquariat, 9/2001
  • A. Neuner-Warthorst, ‘“Der lachende Erdball”’, Illustration 63, April 2002, pp. 19-22
  • International Biographical Dictionary of Central European Emigrés 1933-45, Munich, New York, London, Paris: K.G. Saur, 1983., 1983 (bibliography)
  • Kunst im Exil in Grossbritannien 1933-1945 (exh. cat.), Berlin: Neue Gesellschaft für Bildende Kunst and Verlag Frölich & Kaufmann, 1986. , 1986
  • Ernst Fischer and others, Buchgestaltung im Exil 1933-1950. Eine Ausstellung des Deutschen Exilarchivs 1933-1945 Der Deutschen Bibliothek. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2003. Very comprehensive. , 2003, p. 118, and biog. pp. 202-3.


  • Berlin, 1926
  • Moderne Galerie Wertheim, Berlin, 1929
  • Galerie André, Prague, 1934
  • Stern House, Brno, 1935
  • ‘Twentieth Century German Art’, New Burlington Galleries, London, 1938 (group)
  • Nicholson Gallery, London, 1938
  • Wertheim Gallery, London, 1939 (group: exiles
  • sponsored by the Free German League of Culture in England)
  • Czechoslovak Institute, London, 1943 (group)
  • Ben Uri Gallery, London, 1950 (group)
  • Hart House, University of Toronto, 1951
  • Archivarion Gallery, Berlin, 1952 (memorial)
  • Ostdeutsche Galerie, Regensburg, 1977 (group: Jewish artists)
  • Lufthansa travelling exh. (Europe), 1978/9
  • Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, 1980 (travelling, 1980-81)
  • Busch Museum, Hannover, 1984
  • Neue Gesellschaft für Bildende Kunst, Berlin, 1986 (Lilliput covers)
  • Kunstbibliothek, Berlin, 1999.


  • Trier-Fodor Foundation, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto
  • Ullstein Archiv, Berlin.