Andersen, Hans Christian Lisbeth Zwerger, Illus

Wonderment: The Lisbeth Zwerger Collection


The Art of Lisbeth Zwerger, North-South (New York, NY), 1994.

During the spring of 1974 Zwerger met John Rowe, an English artist then vacationing in Vienna. The two became best friends and, when Rowe decided to remain in Vienna to study, they began looking for an apartment to rent together. "This did not please my parents one little bit," Zwerger maintained in SAAS, In addition to marrying Rowe, the illustrator dropped out of college, deciding her time there was not time well spent. "Just when my parents had started to believe that I would be saved after all," Zwerger continued, "I brought their hopes and dreams crashing down with these two decisions. Once again I was a problem."

Financially desperate and seemingly without direction, Zwerger was inspired to illustrate again when Rowe brought home a book of illustrations by English artist Arthur Rackham; the book "was to change my whole outlook, if not my life!" declared Zwerger. "I had never seen anything like them, and as I looked through the book, something inside of me seemed to come alive. My love for illustrating returned there and then. I felt so inspired that I wanted to start again straight away."

Illustrated by Lisbeth Zwerger -The Sandman.

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    Hans Christian Andersen, Lisbeth Zwerger (Illustrator), Anthea Bell (Translator)
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  • Hansel & Gretel illustrated by Lisbeth Zwerger

    Accustomed to drawing in black and white, Zwerger tried to imitate Rackham's style of line and color wash. Rowe showed her how to use the two-color technique at which Zwerger quickly became adept, and when her mother offered to purchase some of her illustrations the young artist begin to earn money from her craft. This new source of income helped immensely, for Zwerger and Rowe lived in a Vienna apartment with little furniture and limited funds for food.

    Using the two-color technique to illustrate scenes from stories by such authors as E.T.A. Hoffmann and Hans Christian Andersen, Zwerger found modest success with her illustrations. When she showed several drawings at a private gallery, in a group exhibition including both her father and Rowe, every one of her pieces was sold.