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Maynard Clark, <em>Kurt Wiese at work in his studio</em>. James A. Michener Art Museum. Gift of Philip A. and Dianna T. Betsch.

Illustrator Kurt Wiese was incredibly prolific, illustrating over 300 children's books by authors such as Zane Grey and Rudyard Kipling. His most well known works are the illustrations for the original Bambi book. Wiese wrote and illustrated many children's books himself, winning the Caldecott Medal for Children's Literature twice. German-born Wiese traveled in China selling merchandise as a young man. On the outbreak of WWI, he was captured by the Japanese, and turned over to the British. He spent five years as a prisoner, most of them in Australia, where his fascination for the animal life inspired him to start sketching. Completely self-taught, upon his return to Germany he worked for an animated film company for several years, where he developed the innovation of completing drawings on transparent material to avoid redrawing the background with every frame. He credited this work with teaching him quick and accurate draughtsmanship. He began his own story writing and illustration during this time, and continued with it during three years in Brazil before coming to America. Already well-known, his career burgeoned here, where his travels served as the basis for many of his works.

Maynard Clark, Kurt Wiese at work in his studio. James A. Michener Art Museum. Gift of Philip A. and Dianna T. Betsch.

Education & Community

Education and Training
Self taught artist; taught himself to sketch while a prisoner of war in a British camp in Australia during World War I
Travel as a Chinese export trader through China, Siberia, Australia, and Brazil gave subjects for many illustrations.
Work as an animator taught Wiese quick and accurate draughtsmanship.

Connection to Bucks County:
Wiese lived in Frenchtown , New Jersey from 1930 to 1974. He included scenes of life in the Delaware Valley in his children's book, Joe Buys Nails. Wiese also exhibited locally both in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Colleagues and Affiliations:
Wiese exhibited at Phillips' Mill and painted the murals in the dining room of the Stockton Inn, Stockton, New Jersey, in the 1930s.


Major Solo Exhibitions
Independent Gallery, New Hope, Pennsylvania, 1935
Lambertville Public Library, Lambertville, New Jersey, 1935
Washington Library, Washington, New Jersey, 1952

Major Group Exhibitions
International Exposition, Paris, France, 1937
Lambertville House, 1971
Phillips Mill 50th Anniversary Retrospective Exhibition, 1979

Children's Literature
The Chinese Ink Stick
, 1929
Karoo the Kangaroo
, 1929
Liang and Lo
, 1930
Wally the Walrus
, 1930
Ella The Elephant
, 1931
Joe Buys Nails
, 1931
The Parrot Dealer
, 1932
Buddy the Bear
, 1936
The Rabbit's Revenge
, 1940
Little Boy Lost in Brazil
, 1942
You Can Write Chinese
, 1945
Fish In The Air
, 1948
Happy Easter
, 1952
The Dog, The Fox, and The Fleas
, 1953
The Cunning Turtle
, 1956
The Groundhog and His Shadow
, 1959
Rabbit Brothers Circus: One Night Only
, 1963
The Thief in the Attic
, 1965

Illustrated over 300 books, including books by
Zane Grey, Rudyard Kipling, Felix Salten, Walter Rollin Brooks, Marguerite Henry and Jane F. Tompkins.

Book Illustrations
Honk the Moose
The Jungle Book
First Man In Space
Cradle of the Deep
Life Story of a Little Monkey
Bong Kwei
The Adventures of Mario
Young Fu

Awards & Appointments

Major Awards
Newbury award, Young Fu, a book about China illustrated by Kurt Wiese, 1933
International Exposition, Paris, France, 1937
Caldecott Medal for Children's Literature, You Can Write Chinese, and Fish In The Air
Children's Spring Book Festival Award, New York Herald Tribune, Fish In The Air

Affiliations and Memberships
Philadelphia Watercolor Club
Hunterdon Art Alliance

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