For many years, German cartoonist Eduard Thöny (1866-1950) shaped the satirical weekly "Simplicissimus" through his expressive art. In February 2016 he would have turned 150, and Hannover's Museum Wilhelm Busch currently has a number of pieces of his 1900s oevre on display in a special exhibition.
Eduard Thöny was born February 9, 1866 in Brixen/South Tyrol. The former art student came to join "Simplicissimus" after his studies at Munich's Academy of Fine Arts, being recruited by the magazine's founder and editor Albert Langen. Thöny created about 3,000 illustrations for Simplicissimus, portraying German society and lifestyle of the 1900s. He started to work for the newspaper in its founding year of 1896, and worked on until its termination in 1944.
The focal point of Thönys oevre revolved around city people who shaped and formed the face of the Wilhelmine Empire. He especially used his society-based cartoons, to distinguish his work for Simplicissimus, while he also proved to be an excellent and extremely keen observer of military traditions of the time.
His detailed art style is mainly due to his education and artistic training: Starting in 1886, Thöny studied genre and historical painting at Munich's Academy of Fine Arts. On the side he had alreday started to do funnies for a supplement of „Neues Münchener Tagblatt“, called „Münchener Humoristischen Blätter“, in 1888. In 1890 the artist moved to Paris, where he studied the art of painting battles. In 1891 a first long-term stay in Berlin followed, during which Thöny made himself a name as a fashion illustrator for „Modenwelt (Fashion World)“. After a trip to the UK and a failed attempt to settle as an artist in Meran, he finally found his artistic home at „Simplicissismus“ in 1896.
In 1897 he moved to Berlin, to study Wilhelmine society and military tradition in all its colour and at its core until it finally turned into his great topic for „Simplicissimus“. As a regular at a number of Berlin's salons and casinos, he gained first-hand information, insight and inspiration alike. He came to know people from all kinds of social environments and used them as models for his characters: a decadent-snotty Prussian Lieutenant, elegant ladies, saucy girls, smug gentlemen and impudent crooks.
Mostly influenced by art-nouveau, the illustrator developed a quite specific style: firm lines accompanied by most detailed and structured areas dominate his works, while his figures almost edge on a touch of expressionism. Many of his cartoons - street scenes, especially - stand out because of their masterful composition. Even today they almost feel like vivid and brilliant snapshots. Technically, Thöny's work also excelled, as his drawings lived up to the requirements of the medium. They were most striking and excellently suited for reproduction.
Museum Wilhelm Busch's exhibition will display his works until June 26, 2016. Many of the exhibits are taken from the museum's own collection, some are permanent loans made by Niedersächsische Sparkassenstiftung and Sprengel Museums at Museum Wilhelm Busch. The collection is supplemented by a selection of the artist's works from a personal collection of his estate, including sketches and sketch books that have rarely been seen in public.