Ludwig Bemelmans grew up in the Austro-Hungarian empire and emigrated to the United States in his late teens, just escaping the outbreak of the First World War. He is best known for Madeline, the series he wrote and illustrated about the daily adventures of seven-year-old Madeline in Paris.
First published in 1939, Madeline today is a global franchise and international childhood classic. The original story has sold over 14 million copies and been translated into language as diverse as Afrikaans, Japanese, and Swahili.
Beyond Madeline, much of Bemelmans’ his work was intended for adults, not least the evocation of luxury travel. After his arrival in the United States, the artist found work as a busboy at the Ritz Carlton, and with it a ‘tankful of fish’ to inspire his art in the hotel staff and clientele.