From Russia (with love): medieval glass treasures returned

I have previously written about Dutch misericords and bronze fonts of mainland Europe so my interest was inevitably piqued when I came across the fascinating story of the stained glass windows of the Marienkirche in Frankfurt an der Oder in the far east of Germany. We have several colourful books in our collections devoted to them.

Construction of the redbrick church began in about 1253, the year the town was founded. There was enough wealth in the town (it grew to be the largest trading centre on the river Oder) to enable the original church to be extended. The first extension in the 1350s and 1360s added a choir with ambulatory, and it is presumed that the three 12m high windows at the east end date from that time (they were not written about until 1523). For the large numbers of worshippers who could not read or write the windows represented a kind of picture Bible, depicting stories from the Old and New Testament. Continue reading

Christian Friedrich Gille

We regularly collect exhibition catalogues and other works on major German artists but sometimes lesser-known artists are worthy of attention too. This post highlights the artistic work of Christian Friedrich Gille (1805-1899), a little-known German artist and is written in response to a recent new arrival in the UL, Christian Friedrich Gille, 1805-1899: malerische Entdeckung der Natur by Gerd Spitzer. This book is the first comprehensive monograph on him for almost 25 years and was published to accompany an exhibition held in Berlin and Basel of oil paintings by Gille in private collections. It contains many fine reproductions of Gille’s works, particularly his nature scenes. Continue reading


80 years ago in the night of November 9-10, 1938 Nazi Germany unleashed terror on its Jewish citizens. The ‘Reichskristallnacht’ marked the beginning of the Nazis’ implementation of their ‘final solution’, the annihilation of the Jewish population and with it the destruction of Jewish culture and civilization. In this post we look at the Soncino-Gesellschaft as an example of the rich Jewish culture which was destroyed by Nazi Germany. Continue reading

The enduring appeal of Struwwelpeter

In 1844 a German doctor (and later psychiatrist at a psychiatric hospital in Frankfurt) was looking for a book to give his three year old son for Christmas but couldn’t find anything suitable, considering the books on sale to be too long and moralising. He decided to create something himself instead, being accustomed to sketching pictures to pacify child patients. This was Heinrich Hoffmann and his creation was Struwwelpeter, a short illustrated collection of cautionary tales which graphically demonstrated what would happen to children who misbehaved or disobeyed their parents. His bestselling book is one of the most well-known works for children in Germany, running to more than 700 editions, translated into more than 40 languages and with many imitations and parodies. There is even a museum dedicated to Struwwelpeter and Hoffmann in Frankfurt am Main. In this blog post we explore in more detail the original book and some of the many versions of it. Continue reading

Peter Behrens – 150

This year the 150th anniversary of the birth of Peter Behrens (1868-1940) is celebrated.  He was one of the most innovative designers and architects of the early 20th century and is recognized as a pioneer of modern industrial design. In his role as chief designer for the German company AEG he developed its corporate design encompassing the logo, publicity material, the form of the goods and the industrial buildings. With the turbine hall in Berlin Moabit he created an icon of industrial architecture. Continue reading