Otto Ubbelohde Biography

Otto Ubbelohde




Painter, printmaker, and illustrator Otto Ubbelohde was born in Marburg, Germany on January 5, 1867. He began his formal art studies in 1884 at the Academy of Art at Munich under G. con Hackle, W. von Diez, and L. von Lofftz. He graduated in 1890 with degrees in portraiture and graphic art, remaining in Munich as a freelance artist and spending time at the Worpswede artist colony, and joined the Munich Secessionists with whom he first exhibited in 1893.

In 1896 he turned to etching and published his first portfolio, "Marburg ad Lahn and Its Surroundings", with Karl Theodor Meyer-Basel. By 1897 he had split with the Munich Secessionists, joining instead the moderate Luitpold Group secessionists and founding the United Workshops for Art in Crafts in Munich. In 1900 he and his wife Hanna permanently relocated to Gossfelden, Lahnaue, where he began working on the project that would gain him international recognition: the anniversary edition of Grimm's Fairy Tales, published in 1909, illustrated by Ubbelohde in color and black and white. Around this time Ubbelohde became a regular visitor to the Willinghausen painters' colony.

Ubbelohde's career took off from there and he created several more illustrated books and portfolios, and was commissioned to illustrate the Hessekunst calendar (calendar of Hessian art) for several years, including the "war edition" during the First World War. He co-founded the Die Hessen artist group in 1910 and his first solo exhibition was held in Giessen in 1913. While working as a hospital clerk during the war he was honored with the title of Professor by the Prussian Minister of Culture and given an honorary doctorate by the University of Giessen. By the end of the war he was exhibiting signs of cancer and by 1921 he could barely work, taking his final drawing trip in autumn of that year. He died at home on May 8, 1922. 

In 1999 Ubbelohde's studio in Marburg was turned into a museum of his life and work, as well as an exhibitioning space for other artists, and in 2017 a retrospective of his work was held in his honor on the 150th anniversary of his birth.