Back in December of 2015 I was exhibiting at an arts and crafts fair and I got to talking to this guy who stopped by my table. After a while he asks, “Hey, have you ever heard of an artist named Sulamith Wülfing?”
The question caught me a little by surprise (it’s not everyday that people want to talk 20th century illustrators, let alone bring up artists I’ve only just recently begun to study) and I said of course and that she’s become a “new” favorite of mine.
In fact, I’d been introduced to her work by Sam Guay only a few months prior. Honestly, I have no idea how I’d never heard of Sulamith Wülfing before that. Her work is right up my alley. It’s haunting, magical, and speaks to this delicate, graceful otherworldliness.
The guy tells me that he deals in estate sales, specifically antique books, and that he just acquired this nearly 200 page book of her work. He goes on to say that if I’d like it, the book is mine. He wanted the book to go to someone who would appreciate it. Next thing I know the guy has left the show, gone to pick up the book, and brought it back for me.
Other than a handful of images online I’d not been able to track down any kind of collection of Wülfing’s work and now here I am, thanks to kindness of this collector, holding a huge book with page after page of not only paintings and drawings but her complete biography (which just so happens to be as fascinating as the work itself).
Born in 1901, she had visions of angels, gnomes, fairies, and elves her entire life. Sulamith described them as incarnations of “kind-heartedness” and drew upon them as the inspiration for her work. She lived through both World Wars (and in fact she was told by Joseph Goebbels that her illustrations were unacceptable and that she must stop; she refused).
“What I believe in absolutely, however, is the immortality of the soul, the primeval personality which has still much unfolding and further developments before it. How this happens and how it has happened, that remains – in any case at this moment – a secret.”
What a kind gift!
Wonderful reading this heart-warming story. I discovered and purchased several little books of her pictures, they’re absolute treasures!
What a treasure! The book looks awesome from what you have shown, any chance you would turn it into a series of blogs to talk about her and show some of that fabulous art? You are quite fortunate to have this person happen by your booth! Just proves the point that you never know where the next 'gem' will come from.
How wonderful! The last image, with the butterfly, looks familiar but I don't remember where I'd have seen it. It also looks like Susan Seddon-Boulett may have seen some of these, although she used quite different imagery. Thank you for bringing up this wonderful artist.
weeks of create nothing and operating their butt off just to get there. Now I'm not saying every claim Binary Interceptor is this way, but the majority of the marketing's objective is to get your attention, and “6 several weeks of getting no money” doesn't really .
I love her artwork…Ethereal perfection ♥
Cory, thank you for the biographical info. I was introduced to her work through notes I took on one of Charles Vess and Teri Windling's panels at a WisCon and later found that I had a box of notecards of her images buried in my office. Her work sometimes needs a lot of study because the contrast is dialed back from what the modern eye seeks, but it is really magical! PS: hope to see you at Spectrum – Kat Angeli
I have been looking for her art for 30 years
I saw the first one at a friends house in a little book and fell in love. I used to get calendars with her work on them but haven’t found any in awhile
Did you ever do more on her book I would love to see more
I have been a fan of Sulamith Wulfing for years and have several of her original art books including the biography, also many pictures adorning my walls! I like your description of her work being – ‘haunting, magical and speaks to this delicate, graceful otherworldliness’.
I had two of her prints in my bedroom when I was a teenager, I loved her work. Very inspiring,
I wish I had kept them.