Heinrich Lefler was an Austrian painter, graphic artist, and stage designer. Born to Vienna artist Franz Lefler, he studied from 1880-1884 at the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts and in 1884 at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich. In 1891, he became a member of the Society of Austrian Artists, Austrian House, and nine years later, founded the Federal Hagen. He served as assistant to the chief designer at the Vienna Court Opera until 1903 and during this time, designed stage sets for the production of a Wagner opera at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Lefler left the opera, and until 1910, held a distinguished professorship at the Academy of Fine Arts. He was awarded the position over Gustav Klimt, another applicant for the position.
Besides his work as a stage designer and a professor of art, Lefler was a pioneering illustrator of children’s literature. Together with his brother-in-law Joseph Urban, Lefler was one of the most important artists of European Art Nouveau. Both artists often worked together and designed, for example, a calendar with motifs from the fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm and The Swineherd by Hans Christian Andersen. Theirs are some of the most beautiful illustrated German books of the Art Nouveau ear. In his later life, Lefler painted frescos and held theatre productions for children.