top of page
  • Writer's pictureLilium

Heinrich Lefler - Gifted Gallery

Heinrich Lefler, born 7 November 1863, Vienna, was an Austrian painter, graphic artist and stage designer. His father was the painter Franz Lefler. He was a pioneering illustrator, with his work being characterised by sacred, chivalric, and fairy-tale themes.

From 1880 to 1884, he studied at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna under Christian Griepenkerl and, from 1884, at the Academy of Fine Arts Munich under Nikolaus Gysis and Wilhelm von Diez. In 1891, he became a member of the Society of Austrian Artists and, in 1900, was a founding member of an artist collective the Hagenbund.

In 1899 he designed the Österreichische Kalender Monatsbilder, a calendar in the Jugendstil, which endures as one of his masterpieces.

Lefler's design for the 1000 Kronen Banknote

From 1900 to 1903, he was an assistant to Anton Brioschi, the head designer at the Vienna State Opera, following which he became a professor at the Academy until 1910. While at the Vienna Opera, he designed a set for the Metropolitan Opera and shipped the pieces to New York. In 1903 he married opera singer Mina Wiesmüller, who modelled the portrait that appears in his design for the 1000 Kronen banknote.

Besides the time spent in his formal occupations, he spent a great deal of time in Weißenbach an der Triesting with his father and his brother-in-law, Joseph Urban, a fellow scenic designer, where they painted murals on villas and hotels, designed invitation cards for summer festivals and, with librettist Camillo Walzel, staged theatrical productions for children. The team of Lefler and Urban went on to create many public events as well, including the 1905 Schiller Festival parade and a procession along the Ringstraße in 1908, on the occasion of the Emperor's 60th Jubilee.

In 1900 Lefler and Urban created a beautiful illustrated edition of Die Buecher der Chronika der drei Schwestern (The Book of the Chronicles of the Three Sisters), a fairy tale by Johann Karl August Musäus.

In 1905 Lefler designed a calendar featuring one-off illustrations of Cinderella, The Frog Prince, The Little Mermaid, Sleeping Beauty, The Goose Girl, Godfather Death, Hansel and Gretel, Mary’s Child, Rapunzel, Snow-White and Rose-Red, and The Six Swans.

Lefler also designed banknotes, financial warrants and promotional posters for several companies, including Auerlicht and Krupp. Many of Lefler's costumes and stage designs have been preserved in the Max Reinhardt Collection at Harvard.


Heinrich Lefler died 14 March 1919, in Vienna, aged 56. He is best remembered for his fairy tale illustrations and his highly decorated calendars.




bottom of page