from Fliegende Blätter, by Johann Bahr (1911)
Die Jägerin, from Fliegende Blätter (1905)

Johann Bahr was a 19th century German painter, caricaturist and woodcut artist, and a regular contributor to humor magazines like Fliegende Blätter and Lüstige Blätter. He was one of the early German artists who worked with sequential stories.

Bahr was born in Flensburg on 22 June 1859. He spent most of his life in Berlin-Friedenau district, where he initially worked as a machine-builder. He spent a short period at the Königlichen Hochschule für Bildende Künste in Berlin, but was mostly a self-taught artist. His humorous drawings, often with sequential narratives, appeared in satirical weekly magazines like Fliegende Blätter from Munich and Lüstige Blätter from Berlin. Bahr's drawings and stories didn't contain specific political views. They were mere outings of populair entertainment, with slapstick sketches of everyday life. His experiences as a factory worker proved useful in pieces depicting the age of mechanization and industrialization, such as his wood engraving of an accident in a machine factory ('Unfälle in Industriebetrieben', 1890). Bahr's work also found its way to publications in The Netherlands and France.


Dutch version of one of Bahr's picture stories

His watercolor paintings often had humorous undertones as well, such as 'Schulzens Lene' (1900), 'Gaudeamus' (1902), 'Sie kommen' (1905) and 'Kriegskameraden' (1906). The artist has furthermore made illustrated chronicles of his many sea travels, and illustrated sheet music for publishers like Alfred Michow in Leipzig and Tessaro Verlag in Berlin. The latter notably included musical pieces by August Conradi and John Philip Sousa.


Inspired Tramp (1922)

Bahr founded the Union of German Illustrators (Union der Deutschen Illustratoren) in 1896, and served as its first president. He was close friends with German art painter Max Hagen. The precise year of his death is not certain. Some sources say the artist died in 1910. Others, such as the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek, say 1930. This second date is more likely, since a 1912 issue of the Fliegende Blätter still contained work by him, and a painting of a tramp playing a piano appears to be from 1922.


Zukunftbild (Fliegende Blätter 108, 1898)

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