Ernst Kreidolf

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Ernst Kreidolf (* February 9, 1863 in Bern; † August 12, 1956 ibid; actually Konrad Ernst Theophil Kreidolf) was a Swiss painter, graphic artist and innovator of the picture book.

Life and work

Ernst Kreidolf was born in Bern in 1863, the son of a merchant. He first attended elementary school in Tägerwilen and then secondary school in Emmishofen (now Kreuzlingen). From 1879 to 1883 he completed an apprenticeship as a lithographer in Constance. From 1883 he attended the school of arts and crafts in Munich and from 1889 the academy of fine arts there[1]. There he studied under Gabriel von Hackl. At that time he earned his living by drawing portraits of criminals for the Münchener Fahndungsblatt.

In 1897 Kreidolf exhibited his watercolours for Blumenmärchen and Schlafende Bäume at the Arnoldsche Kunstsalon in Dresden, which attracted the interest of several publishers of children’s books, none of whom, however, could decide to publish them. It was only thanks to a loan from the Prince of Schaumburg-Lippe that Kreidolf was able to publish the picture book Blumenmärchen with the commission publisher Piloty & Löhle in Munich. Kreidolf produced the lithographs for the print himself.

Since 1898 he illustrated mainly children’s books, some of which he wrote himself. Flowers and animals play an important role in these books. For example, there are personified butterflies and insects, which Kreidolf interwove in dreamlike metamorphoses. Before the First World War, his books were published mainly by Hermann & Friedrich Schaffstein (until 1905 Schafstein).

The First World War forced Kreidolf and his friend Albert Welti to return to Switzerland. After having worked in Switzerland for some time since 1916, he finally moved to Bern in 1918. Kreidolf often stayed in Ermatingen to paint, as did other artists at this time, including Wilhelm Trübner, Carl Theodor Meyer, Caspar Ritter and Fritz Voellmy. There they stayed at the famous Hotel Adler[2]. Kreidolf was a frequent and welcome guest of Eduard Zimmermann, with whom he became friends at the Academy in Munich.

In 1920 Emil Roniger became his new publisher. Roniger became Kreidolf’s patron and founded the Ernst Kreidolf-Verein in 1947 to promote the artist. After his death, Roniger’s private Kreidolf collection went to the “Ernst Kreidolf Foundation”, which later transferred it to the “Ernst Kreidolf Association”. Today it is on deposit in the Kunstmuseum Bern.

In 1956 Kreidolf died in his native city of Bern. He is buried in Bern’s Schosshalden cemetery. Adolf Tièche wrote an obituary for Kreidolf.[3] Kreidolf’s estate is in the Burgerbibliothek Bern.


Picture books

  • Flower Tales. 1898
  • Fitzebutze. 1900
  • The Sleeping Trees. A fairy tale in pictures. 1901
  • The Meadow Gnomes. 1902
  • Chat for children. 1903
  • The crayon. 1904
  • Old nursery rhymes. 1905
  • Summer birds. 1908
  • Garden Dream. 1911
  • Alpine flower tale. 1922 (Alpine Flower Tales– Internet Archive)
  • Biblical imagery.
  • Winter’s Tale. 1924 (set to music by Max Kaempfert)
  • Lenzgesind. 1926
  • The dog festival. 1928
  • Among the Gnomes and the Elves. 1929
  • Childhood. 1930
  • Grasshopper. 1931

Illustrated books

  • Hedwig Bleuler-Waser Little Dwarf Hat, 1919
  • Hedwig Bleuler-Waser: Lenzbub kommt. Fairy tales that happen. A. Franke Verlag, Bern 1920.
  • Adolf Frey: Blumen Ritornelle. Rotapfelverlag, Erlenbach ZH/Leipzig 1921.
  • Leopold Weber: Traumgestalten. Rotapfelverlag, Erlenbach ZH/Leipzig 1922.
  • Roti Rösli in the garden. Staatlicher Lehrmittelverlag des Kantons Bern, 1925 (reading book for children of the 3rd school year).
  • Karl Eugen Schmidt: From the Diary of an Infant. Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, Stuttgart and Leipzig 1905.


  • Ernst Kreidolf: Life Memoirs. Edited by Jakob Otto Kehrli. Zurich 1957.

Oil paintings

In the Kunstmuseum Bern you will find:

  • Male study head. 1888 (Inv. 1024)
  • Sheep pasture. 1920 (Inv. 1574)
  • The Fall of Man. 1928 (Inv. 1096)
  • Portrait of Councillor Leo Merz. 1932 (Inv. 1203)
  • Portrait of the writer Leopold Weber. 1932 (Inv. 1204)
  • Autumn in the Bavarian Mountains. 1956 (Inv. 1877)


  • Markus Schöb, Barbara Stark, Roland Stark: Ernst Kreidolf und seine Malerfreunde. Catalogue on the occasion of the exhibition of the same name at the Kunstmuseum Bern (2006/2007) and at the Städtische Wessenberg-Galerie Konstanz (2007). Published by the Ernst Kreidolf Association and Foundation. Ernst Kreidolf Publishing House, Ittigen near Bern 2006, ISBN 978-3-9523166-3-4.[4]
  • Roland Stark: Ernst Kreidolf, der Malerpoet und seine Ver leger. Huber, Frauenfeld 2005, ISBN 3-7193-1387-5.
  • Barbara Stark (ed.): Ernst Kreidolf und die Kunstgeschichte. Children’s books and art around 1900. Städtische Wessenberg-Galerie, Constance 2002.
  • Fritz Wartenweiler: Ernst Kreidolf. Eventful years, transfigured reality, reflection. Rotapfel, Zurich 1982.
  • Hans Ries:Kreidolf, Ernst. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 12, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1980, ISBN 3-428-00193-1, p. 736 (Digitalisat).
  • Kunsthalle Bern (ed.): Ernst Kreidolf / Adolf Tièche. Exhibition catalogue. Bern 1958.
  • Jakob Otto Kehrli: Ernst Kreidolf. Paul Haupt, Bern 1949 (Schweizer Heimatbücher series).
  • Jakob Otto Kehrli: Aus der Werkstatt Ernst Kreidolf. Rotapfel, Zurich 1943.

Web links

Individual references

  1. Academy of Fine Arts Munich:Ernst Kreidolf, Matriculation Book, November 1886.Retrieved August 29, 2019.
  2. History of the Hotel Adler in Ermatingen:Kreidolf in Ermatingen.Retrieved October 7, 2019.
  3. Adolf Tièche:Obituary audf Kreidolf.Retrieved October 7, 2019.
  4. Exhibition description(Memento of Originals of 14 July 2011 in the Internet Archive) Info:The archive linkwas inserted automatically and not yet checked. Please check original and archive link according to instructions and then remove this note.@1@2Template:Webachiv/IABot/ at Kunstmuseum Bern, retrieved 18 August 2011.