Martin Sotelano

Rudolf Heinrich Zille

Rudolf Heinrich Zille

Rudolf Heinrich Zille – illustration from The gross Zille book2

Because it is not new that photographers who work with nude/glamour models are “perverts” for the rest of the world.


Rudolf Heinrich Zille (January 10, 1858 – August 9, 1929) was a German illustrator and photographer.

Zille was born in Radeburg near Dresden, son of watchmaker Johann Traugott Zill (Zille since 1854) and Ernestine Louise (born Heinitz, daughter of a miner from the Ore mountains). In 1867, his family moved to Berlin, where he finished school in 1872 and started an apprenticeship as a lithographer.

In 1883, he married Hulda Frieske, with whom he had three children. She died in 1919.

Zille became best known for his (often funny) drawings, catching the characteristics of people, especially “stereotypes”, mainly from Berlin and many of them published in the German weekly satirical newspaper Simplicissimus. He was the first to portray the desperate social environment of the Berlin Mietskasernen (literally “tenement barracks”), buildings packed with sometimes a dozen persons per room who fled from the rural regions to the expanding industrial metropolis during the Gründerzeit only to find even deeper poverty in the developing proletarian class.

His special talent was the scathingly humorous portrayal of what were in reality quite unfunny life conditions of handicapped beggars, tuberculous prostitutes, and menial labourers, and especially their children, making the best they could of life and resolutely refusing to give up.

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