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Ludwig Bemelmans (1898-1962)

Ludwig Lampert Bemelmans (1898-1962)

Though Ludwig Bemelmans considered himself first and foremost as a painter, he is best remembered as a writer and illustrator, especially of the immortal series of picture books featuring the resourceful Madeline. With much experience working in hotels and restaurants, he developed a reputation as a gourmet. His joint pleasures in art and food made him the ideal decorator of restaurants and bars, including the Bemelmans Bar in the Carlyle Hotel, in New York, which is still greatly enjoyed by the public.

Ludwig Bemelmans was born in Meran, Austria-Hungary (now Merano, Italy), on 30 April 1898, the son of the Belgian hotelier, Lampert Bemelmans, and his wife, Frances Fischer, the daughter of a Bavarian brewer. He spent his early years in a family-owned hotel in Gmunden, on the Traunsee, in Upper Austria.
However, in 1904, Lampert ran away with a woman called Emmy, who would become his second wife. In so doing, he left not only his pregnant wife, Frances, and his son, Ludwig, but also Ludwig’s governess, ‘Gazelle’, who was also pregnant with his child, and who committed suicide as a result.

Ludwig Bemelmans left with his mother for her native town of Regensburg, Bavaria, Germany, where she lived with her family, and gave birth to a second son.

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