Continuing with the English translation, we read: "When our artist informs us that he has never had a single pupil, and that he employs no assistants, since all of his patrons have the right to demand an honest original, then our amazement and admiration know no end. It was no light task to carry out unaided every commission from A to Z during all these years, and bring each to a happy conclusion by virtue of his own right hand. It was alone his love of his work, his devotion and fidelity to his work, which gave the Hohlwein poster that degree of perfection which has placed it in the very center of universal interest and universal demand. Nor need we believe for a moment that the creator of these superb designs simply shakes them out of his sleeves in complete, ready-made series. Hohlwein, on the contrary, works almost invariably from a model. . . ." Illustration circa 1910.
The text continues, "He first prepares a drawing which follows Nature [sic] faithfully, sometimes making use of photographic studies to this end. And only after these preliminary sketches does he proceed to evolve a decorative design as a basis for the work at hand."
I have put that text in bold face because I think that Hohlwein made extensive use of "photographic studies" as these examples suggest. The lighting of the subjects in these posters from the period 1914-1920, and the one above from around 1910, show features that could only have been lighted in direct sunlight or from tungsten lamps. The lighting and shadows form patterns peculiar to photographic prints. Compare these patterns of light with the illustrations of Sarah Stilwell and Edward Penfield in prior posts.
It seems improbable that Hohlwein would want to make his drawings in direct sunlight, even if he worked under an umbrella or in adjacent shade. While it's possible to paint brightly lit landscapes, it would be very uncomfortable attempting to paint such expressive illustrations from live models. Of course it could be done, but why bother? Especially when photos were already relied on by illustrators everywhere to record facial expressions, accurate body movements and gestures, folds, patterns, and textures in clothing and decor.
An enlarged image of the monk's head. Could it be that Hohlwein had no pupils or assistants because he wanted to keep his technique secret? My mentor, Harold Smith, was very generous with tips, suggestions, and advice, but I knew of other illustrators who covered up their work when strangers entered their studios unannounced and would never explain how they did things. They were–and are–much like cooks who refuse to share recipes.