(c) Walter Trier: „The Jolly Steamer“, ca.1948
[Translate to english:] (c) Internationale Jugendbibliothek
(c) Walter Trier: „The Jolly Steamer“, ca.1948
[Translate to english:]
[Translate to english:] (c) Internationale Jugendbibliothek
Feb 24
Sep 24


Walter Trier. The cheekily-cheerful illustrator of Erich Kästner's children's books

Foyer, Wehrgang Gallery & Reading Room

Erich Kästner’s children’s classic „Emil and the Detectives“ sports one of the most iconic covers in children’s literature – created by Walter Trier. Bold, bright yellow backgrounds became his trademark style and, together with his lovingly cheeky characters, they have contributed to the worldwide success of Erich Kästner's children's books. Walter Trier has given Erich Kästner's stories, which are told with humour and morality, a timelessly modern, humorous touch. His colourful, comical, narrative style of drawing continues to delight generations of children to this day. He was and still is a great role model for many illustrators. 

Born in Prague in 1890, Walter Trier was an extremely popular and successful caricaturist, illustrator, and draughtsman even before the First World War and later in the Weimar Republic. After the rise of the National Socialists, the Jewish artist emigrated to London and then spent the last years of his life in Canada. From the end of the 1920s, he had a chequered artistic and personal relationship with Erich Kästner. Until his death in 1951, Walter Trier illustrated all of Erich Kästner's children's books as well as his adaptations of fairy tales and classics. 

The International Youth Library Foundation holds the largest collection of Walter Trier's original illustrations for Erich Kästner's children's books in Europe alongside illustrations for books by various other authors. They are radiantly colourful, as if the artist had only just put pencil and brush aside. They include illustrations for Kästner's "Till Eulenspiegel", " Munchhausen", and "Puss in Boots", as well as H.C. Andersen's "The Tinderbox" and Trier's own, long-forgotten picture book project "The Jolly Steamer". 

The exhibition is dedicated to Walter Trier's illustrations for Erich Kästner's children's books as well as other picture book classics that were created at the end of Walter Trier's life. The most famous children's book cover will be recreated in large size in the exhibition for visitors to walk through. One focus of the exhibition is on the peace parable "The Animals' Conference", which Erich Kästner wrote based on an idea by Jella Lepman, the founder of the International Youth Library, and which Walter Trier illustrated during his exile in Canada. The 60 original illustrations of Erich Kästner's children's classics, which are on display for the first time in many years, are a particular delight.

The exhibition marks both the 75th anniversary of the International Youth Library and the 125th birthday of Erich Kästner.

With the kind support of the Walter-Trier-Archive, Konstanz.

Current Opening Hours:
Mon - Fri  10 am - 4 pm
Saturday & Sunday 2 pm - 5 pm

Entrance Fees:
Children and Young Adults under 18: free
Adults: 3 Euros (Collective ticket for all exhibitions and museums), 2 Euros (Concession tickets)