The mushroom illustrations and Hans Walty archive

Hans Walty was a drawing instructor who was also passionate about mushroom research. He produced numerous watercolour drawings of mushrooms with great precision and attention to detail, along with accompanying text. His work served as a basis for Schweizer Pilztafeln, an illustration series of Swiss mushrooms published by the Verband Schweizerischer Vereine für Pilzkunde.

Pilztafel Walty
Example of a mushroom illustration with accompanying archival materials (photo: NL, Simon Schmid)

Hans Walty (1868–1948) moved to Leipzig in 1888 after graduating from the School of Applied Arts in Basel. In 1893 he received a teaching position at the School of Applied Arts in Zurich and in 1901 at the Dresden Academy of Fine Arts. He later became a self-employed artist and church painter in Leipzig. From 1919 on, he worked as a drawing instructor at the secondary school in Lenzburg. 

Walty spent much of his free time collecting and researching mushrooms. He produced numerous watercolour illustrations of mushrooms and accompanying text descriptions that were published in three volumes by the Verband Schweizerischer Vereine für Pilzkunde from 1942 to 1947.

His archive was given to the Swiss National Library in 1948. Walty’s passion for mushrooms can be seen in the large collection of illustrations that comprise the heart of his archive. The mushrooms that he drew and painted from 1913–1944 were created with great attention to detail. The fungi are depicted from the side and often from the top and bottom as well. The characteristics of the stems, spores and undersides of the caps are also frequently documented. In addition to showing his skills as an artist, Walty’s work also demonstrates his scientific knowledge of mushrooms, with each specimen being assigned a family and genus. An accompanying book contains descriptions of the various mushrooms.

Content and scope

  • The archive consists mostly of drawings of mushrooms (501 watercolours on 382 posters).
  • There is an additional bundle of text manuscripts about various mushrooms, part of which is the book that accompanies Hans Walty’s mushroom illustration series (XI, 200 pages).
  • The archives also include some correspondence and a posthumously created CV.

Additional mushroom illustrations by Hans Walty can be found at Kantonsbibliothek Chur. The Museum Burghalde in Lenzburg is also home to a collection of poster designs that were designed by Walty.

Research and access

  • The Hans Walty archive is described and indexed in detail in the HelveticArchives database.

  • Digitised versions of Walty’s mushroom illustrations are available on Wikimedia Commons.

  • Further information about the Hans Walty Archive is available on request.
  • Originals can be consulted on site (by appointment).

Last modification 06.11.2023

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