Born in Lucerne, Hans Erni was initially apprenticed as a civil engineer and an architectural draughtsman, but by 1927 had abandoned this training for his calling in the fine arts. His artistic breakthrough came in 1939 when his enormous, 300 foot long mural was exhibited as the centrepiece of the Swiss International Exhibition in Zurich. Although Hans Erni first experimented with original lithography in 1930, he did not begin to pursue the medium in earnest until 1950. By 1957 he had produced 227 original lithographs and by February 1969 this figure had increased to 451.
Whilst Hans Erni’s work as a painter had been concerned primarily with a synthesis between science and nature, or abstract and concrete, his original lithograph so are designed with the primary aim of giving pleasure through art. Many of these works are based upon subjects from Greek mythology and classical literature, in which human and allegorical elements predominate. Drawn directly on Solnhofen stone, rather than using transfer paper, these works display the artist’s distinctive manner of entrapping his subject within a labyrinth of intricate linear design.