8/14/2000 Adolph Liebig Sr. (1817 - 1911)

Birth date: 2/25/1817 Death date: 2/13/1911  
Birth location: Baerwalde Province of Brandenburg, Germany Death location: Mayville, Wisconsin  
Media: Decorative Art , Design - Anamorphic Drawing , Design - Theatrical set , Fresco , Painting Web site:
Fair (file rating) - MWA artist file may include basic data, and additional newspaper articles, book references, exhibition information, and images that can be researched on site at MWA.

Biographical Brief

Mayville, Wisconsin resident, artist, anamorphic and theatrical design and painted backdrops for stage sets.
Parents: Edward Liebig, and Charlotte (Wilk or Wilde?) Liebig
Native of Prussia, Germany.
Married Louis Matte
Father of Adolph Liebig, b. 11/17/1848 - d.1926 Fresco Painter, Milwaukee, WI., daughters, Malwine Dreger, Mayville, WI, Anna Lathes, Chicago, IL and Amanda Marx, Chicago, Il
1867, German Immigrant, settled in Mayville, Wisconsin
Studied: painting in Konigsberg, Germany
Work Experience:
Pre-1867 traveled continental Europe as a church decorator/fresco-painter specializing in figural fresco work on domed ceilings.
Began anamorphic works in Europe but the majority of his Katoptrische Anamorphosen Gezeichnet von H. A. Liebig, Mayville, Wis. 1886  was completed in Wisconsin.
Liebig designed and executed the polished steel cones used to view finished anamorphic paintings, mixed his own inks and watercolors.

1879-80, Liebig's Katoptrische Anamorphosen Gezeichnet von H. A. Liebig, Mayville, Wis. 1886 was exhibited as part of a touring exhibit " The Expanding Visual World", Japan.
Also enjoyed music, mathematics, inventions and astronomy.
Died of heart failure from old age at age 93 and buried at Graceland Cemetary, Mayville, WI.
1996, the bulk of Carla Boettcher's colection of Liebig's anamorphic paintings sold January 28 in North Bethesda, Maryland, at a C.G. Sloan & Co. Auction.


Adolph Heinrich Liebig Sr.
Born 1817 in Baerwalde Province of Brandenburg, Germany
Died 1911 in Mayville, Wisconsin
This German-born Wisconsin immigrant studied in Koenigsberg under the German classicist Anselm von Feuerbach.  Liebig became a church painter and traveled throughout continental Europe until 1867, when he emigrated to Wisconsin.

Interested in mathematics, he began his first anamorphic drawings in Europe. These were described as curious circular drawings which appear distorted unless viewed directly from the center with a special viewing device. The majority of his “Katoptrische Anamorphosen” drawings were done in Wisconsin.  Liebig designed and made the polished steel cones used to view the finished anamorphic drawings. He also mixed his own inks and watercolors.

While resident in Wisconsin Liebig also executed church paintings, did theatrical design and painted backdrops for stage sets.  He lived in Mayville, in Wisconsin’s Dodge county. At the time of his death in 1911, Liebig’s early works remained with his family.  There is no documentation indicating that he sold any of his American work during his lifetime.

Anamorphic art had its roots in France, Netherlands and China.  Anamorphic art was created for amusement and for concealing objects and was even documented as a means of revealing secret allegiance to Charles Edward Stuart in England during the reigns of King George I and II.  This type of art was also used to carry political messages of protest and secrets.  In addition, anamorphic paintings were sold with anamorphoscopes – a mirror-like entity – so that the image would look less distorted when viewed from above.  Liebig’s anamorphic work was included in a Japanese exhibition and can be compared to other 18th and 19th century toys and visual games.  

Selected One-Person Exhibitions

Year Info
 A Century Plus Of Wisconsin Watercolors”, Racine Art Association, Wustum Museum of Fine Arts, Racine,WI.
 The Expanding Visual World”, Japanese touring exhibit.

Wisconsin Affiliations

Wisconsin Art Organizations

No art organizations were found.

  • Facebook icon
  • Twitter icon
  • Instagram icon
  • Flickr icon
  • Youtube icon
  • E-News icon