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The private collection of the collector Gernot Uwe Gabel primarily comprises illustrated fiction by a large number of authors and features a wide range of literary genres. Most of the editions were acquired from authors who can be assigned to the literary canon of European and North American nations. The majority of the artists represented in the collection with book illustrations were active in the course of the 20th century, but there are also volumes designed by renowned illustrators of the 18th and 19th centuries. The latter include Daniel Chodowiecki, Peter Cornelius, George Cruikshank, Honoré Daumier, Eugène Delacroix, Gustave Doré, Heinrich Ramberg and Ludwig Richter. For the early 20th century, names such as Ernst Barlach, Lovis Corinth, George Grosz, Ernst-Ludwig Kirchner, Paul Klee, Käthe Kollwitz, Max Liebermann, Emil Preetorius, Max Slevogt and Hugo Steiner-Prague should be mentioned, and the ranks of contemporary illustrators include Gunter Böhmer, Wilhelm M. Busch, Klaus Enrich Kirchner, Wilhelm M. Busch, Klaus Ensikat, Fritz Fischer, Josef Hegenbarth, Horst Janssen, Werner Klemke, Alfred Kubin, Gerhard Marcks, Franz Masereel, Pablo Picasso, Max Schwimmer and A. Paul Weber. Among the more than 3,500 volumes are illustrated children's and youth books from more recent times.

Over the past two decades, Dr. Gabel has transferred the volumes of the University and City Library of Cologne. The following selection could be shown in the context of several exhibitions in the foyer of the library conceived by the collector: Don Quijote's Traces in Germany (2004), German Book Artists of the 20th Century illustrate German literature (2006), The Illustrated Schiller (2009), Voltaire's "Candide" (2012), François Villon (2013), Charles Dickens - "A Christmas Carol" (2015) and Herman Melville - "Moby Dick" (2016).

The books in this private collection have been integrated into the holdings of the University and City Library and distributed to various locations in the book magazine. The volumes can be recognized by the collector's ex-libris designed by the Cologne book artist Eduard Prüssen.